March 2, 1927

LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I accept the correction. There are certain rights peculiar to the French language, but I do not believe that even the mover of this resolution would say that those rights necessarily involve any action along the line suggested by this resolution. It would seem to me that among the qualifications necessary for civil servants there are

[Mr. Woodsworth.l

many others besides merely the knowledge of the French language, important as that is. There is, for example, a sense of fair play, there is a sense of what we call the actualities of the situation, there is a sense of proportion, and I would say that these qualities in a civil servant or a member of the House are equally important with the knowledge of a second language. I think perhaps I would venture to remind the mover of the resolution of those old lines from Shakespeare, which came to my mind as he was speaking:

Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself

And falls on the other side.

There is no slight danger that we may overemphasize privileges or rights to the extent of antagonizing other people, and bringing about conditions under which it will be extremely difficult to retain those rights. The thought I had in mind when I first rose has already been expressed by the question from the hon. member for Frontenac-Addington (Mr. Edwards). I would suggest that if this principle is of value in the civil service, it ought to be more widely applied. I wonder what we should think if a resolution were introduced into the House in these terms:

That the policy of the House should be to give preference to members of parliament knowing the two official languages;

That members of parliament having a knowledge of both the official languages should, owing to their qualifications, be better remunerated, and the superiority of members of parliament possessing both languages should be considered in all appointments to office and to positions on commissions, on committees, or in the Senate.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Does the hon. member

not make a distinction between members of parliament who are elected by the people and members of the civil service who are appointed by the Clival Service Commission?

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LAB
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Does the hon. member

think that the Ukrainian and Chinese languages have the same rights as the English and French languages in Canada?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I do not suggest

that in the slightest, and if the hon. member is really sincere in thinking that is my position, I am glad indeed that he has called the attention of the House to the point. If he will recall my argument, it was simply this, that this resolution bases itself, not upon historical rights, but rather upon effectiveness.

Civil Service-French Language

I was arguing the case on the basis of effectiveness, and I said that in certain cases it would be more desirable to have a knowledge of Chinese than to have a knowledge of French or of English, and that in such a case the appointment ought to be made because of the special qualification. If we are going to go back and introduce historical privileges and rights, we are on another basis altogether.

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LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I have not been discussing either of them; I have been endeavouring to follow the terms of the resolution.

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. O. HOCKEN (Toronto West Centre):

Mr. Speaker, like seventy-five per

cent of the members of the House, I was unable to follow the remarks of the hon. gentleman who introduced the resolution. I would have thought, if he desired to impress the House, he would have spoken in a language that we could all understand.

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LIB

Paul-Arthur Séguin

Liberal

Mr. SEGUIN:

I might ask the hon.

member: Why does he not speak in French

so that the Frenoh-speaking members may be able to understand him?

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

There is just this difference. The hon. gentleman can speak in English; I cannot speak in French. I may repeat that if he desired to be understood by all the members of the House, he might have spoken in English. But evidently he did not desire to be understood by all the members of the House, and so he spoke in a language which only twenty-five per cent of the members could understand and follow. I have no doubt that this resolution is introduced for electoral purposes.

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LIB
CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

I do not think for a

moment that it is expected that this resolution will pass this House. The Prime Minister is altogether too astute a politician to allow a motion of this kind to pass the House, and his Minister of Railways is equally astute. It is indeed pretty hard to apportion the ability in that regard between those two hon. gentlemen. But there is, I think, enough good, sound common sense on that side of the House to prevent a motion of this kind from passing, and particularly from being implemented by legislation. I do not think the party could stand that. But the resolution is really a discrimination against Englishspeaking applicants for positions in the civil service.

32649-52ij

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LIB
CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

I repeat: It is a positive discrimination, and I will proceed to explain why it is so. To discriminate against people who can speak only English in this Englishspeaking country, this British country, is little short of an outrage. After all this is a part of the British Empire; everybody here is a British subject. The English speech is the speech of Canada.

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LIB
CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

The English language is

the official language of Canada, with a few certain privileges to the French language.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Rights.

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

Put it that way if you will -with a few narrow rights to the French language.

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LIB
CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

To put every Englishspeaking man or woman desiring a position in the civil service under the handicap of being compelled to learn another language, would be an absolute injustice. The way in which it would work out would be most disastrous to those English-speaking applicants for positions. This resolution proposes to give the preference in future appointments to candidates knowing the two official languages. That, I presume, removes the preference that now exists for returned soldiers, and it puts them under a handicap instead of giving them the privilege which they now enjoy. If there is in Canada any class of men who should receive a preference in government employment, it is surely the men who hazarded their lives and went through all the miseries of the war in order to preserve civilization in the world. It is in recognition of that extraordinary service which they rendered that they get this privilege, but my hon. friend would remove it.

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March 2, 1927