March 2, 1927

CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

My hon. friend differs

from Doctor Merchant, who was the commissioner appointed by the Ontario government to examine into the French-English schools. He reported that in 267 primary schools of Ontario English was not being taught efficiently. That was the reason why regulation 17 was enacted. There were teachers in the schools who could not speak English, and they were supposed to be teaching both English and French. Doctor Merchant, I think, may be accepted not only as a great educationalist but as, a man of high character, as a man who was anxious to deal with that thorny question from a pedagogical standpoint, and his advice was accepted by the late Sir James Whitney, who could not be called hostile to the French. He was the first premier of Ontario who ever had a French-Canadian in his cabinet and he thought when he put regulation 17 into effect that he was going to have peace and harmony in eastern Ontario, northern Ontario, and in Kent and Essex. It was a genuine desire to promote peace, but instead of promoting peace it stirred up the fiercest controversy we have ever had in this country, and that controversy was stirred up because the man whose duty it was to inform the people as to the real substance and character and legislation not only refused to do so, but misrepresented all through the province of Quebec for their own ad-

Civil Service-French Language

vantage, not only the provincial leader, but actually the legislature of the province of Quebec-

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

I do not like to interrupt any hon. member when he is making a speech in the chamber, but I understood we were discussing a motion with regard to the civil service of the federal government. I cannot in any way, directly or indirectly, see how it can be connected with a certain piece of legislation enacted by the province of Ontario, called regulation 17. Without a complete transformation of the question before the House, and a departure from debate, I do not see how the question can be discussed under this resolution.

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

The fact that my hon.

friend does not see that my remarks are pertinent is no evidence that they are not pertinent. I submit I am touching the very heart of the question of the resolution.

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

I rise to a point of order, and I want a ruling from the chair. In connection with a motion of the nature of the resolution which is now before the House, is it permissible to discuss regulation 17 of Ontario, or any other piece of provincial legislation?

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

We are dealing with a

question which requires a knowledge of English and French and I am trying to point out to this House that in the province of Ontario we did everything to give the children opportunities to acquire the knowledge of both languages. I think that is quite pertinent to the subject.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Marcil):

The

rule applicable in this case is rule 19, which reads:

No member shall speak disrespectfully of His Majesty nor of any of the royal family; nor of the governor or person administering the government of Canada; nor use offensive words against either House, or against any member thereof; nor speak beside the question in debate.

In practice in my experience, certain latitude has been allowed in debate in the House by way of illustration, but in discussing questions of this kind the rule of relevancy must apply, and the hon. member addressing the chair must speak to the question before the House.

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

I did not intend to say

anything more on that point anyway. I think I have put the matter clearly before the House. Parliament is asked by this resolution to force English-speaking people who wish

to obtain a position in the civil service-which many young men and women in this country think very desirable-to learn the French language. I do not think there is any escape from that. The idea is to put up some ten or twenty or thirty thousand positions paid for by the general taxpayers of Canada, and to say to those who want to get one of those positions, "You cannot get such a position unless you can speak the French language." I have never suggested anywhere that any barrier should be put in the way of people learning or speaking the French language, but I certainly think it would be most unfair to exclude from the civil service anybody who could not speak the French language. There are some positions no doubt, especially in the province of Quebec, where a knowledge of French and of English is desirable. They are all filled by men who can speak both languages now-at least they can speak the French language-but why this House should be asked to handicap every possible English-speaking applicant for Dominion civil service positions is absolutely beyond my comprehension, and I do not think it would be accepted by people generally for one moment. It seems to me there would be very great objection to it.

Another side of the question was touched upon by my hon. friend from Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth). The British race are not amenable to coercion of any kind, and anything that has that appearance will be resisted and resented by the people of that race; so that when an attempt is made as in this case, to say to the English-speaking people of Canada, "You must learn the language of Quebec or you cannot get a job in the civil service of Canada," that is a form of coercion, and I think you will find that it will react on the public sentiment of the whole Dominion against Quebec and the French language and the French race. I think it is an exceedingly short-sighted thing to attempt, and that is why I had the idea ever since I saw it on the order paper that it never was intended to be discussed. I was surprised to see it introduced; I thought my hon. friend would have been satisfied to put it on the order paper and send copies to his constituents and let it be seen what a brave and bold man he was; but he evidently is a little more serious than that.

I do not think it can be contended that the civil service of Canada should be made the preserve for any one race. I do not think Ukrainians should be excluded. I do not think the Yidds should be excluded, or the English, but the effect would be to exclude the English and keep the civil service as a

Civil Service-French Language

preserve for those who speak French and are French. If my hon. friend will see the reasonableness of that statement I think we can persuade him to withdraw the resolution. He surely cannot defend such a situation as is presented.

I am prepared to admit, Mr. Speaker, that the French people learn English much more easily than the English learn French.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Why?

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

There are two reasons,

one of which I have already stated. In Quebec English is spoken practically everywhere. There are some back parishes where you do not hear it spoken, but the parents of Quebec want their children to learn English,-

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

No, no.

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CON
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Preach that gospel in Ontario.

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

Did I not teill my hon.

friend -that all our children learn French, but have not the facilities to keep it up? We cannot get the correct pronunciation without attending school for a very long .period. Another reason is this: whether we like it or not, one of the weaknesses of the English people is that they are not facile linguists. The French learn another language much more easily than the English; and it being difficult for the ordinary English person to acquire another language, he does not attempt it. The average English-speaking Canadian would have to study much longer to master French than the average French-speaking Canadian would have to devote to master English. That is one of the differences of the two races. This racial difference crops out in many other characteristics, Mr. Speaker, but it is not necessary for me to enter into them ait the present moment.

I am not going to indulge in a prolonged controversy, Mr. Speaker, but my hon. friend from Sherbrooke said that this is a bilingual country. It is not so by any interpretation of the constitution. I would suppose that every member had read the British North America Act and knew exactly what rights the French language has in this Dominion. It is enjoying rights to-day which are much more extensive than those accorded it by the British North America Act. To remind hon. members, let me read section 133, which is the only .provision in our constitution for the official use of the French language in the Dominion:

Either the English or the French lagnuage may be used by any person in the debates of

the Houses of the parliament of Canada and of the Houses of the legislature of Quebec; and both those languages shall be used in the respective records and journals of those Houses; and either of those languages may be used by any person or in any pleading or process in or issuing from any court of Canada established under this act, and in or from all or any of the courts of Quebec.

The acts of the parliament of Canada and of the legislature of Quebec shall be printed and published in both those languages.

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Charles Eugène Pouliot

Mr. POHLIOT:

Does my hon. friend think that that section is right or wrong?

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

I say to my hon. friend,

these are the rights that the late Sir George Cartier solemnly agreed to. All the representatives of the French race at the time of confederation put their signature to this. It is the sum total of the rights of the French language 'in the Dominion of Canada. So it must be plain to any person who understands English that this is not a bilingual country. So far as I know there has never been a suggestion from any source that one tittle of these rights should be abrogated. The rest of Canada has loyally observed this section of the act. But the French language is used now in a hundred different places for which there is no constitutional warrant.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Where?

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

You will find it on every door in this building. It is used in the post office. It is used on postal and money orders. It is used on the railways.

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An hon. MEMBER:

And in official documents.

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

It is used in many places,

Mr. Speaker. I am simply pointing out to my hon. friend what rights his language has. I am not discussing whether this section went far enough or not- I am saying that this is what is provided by the British North America Act, which was agreed to by Sir George Cartier, Sir Hector Langevin, Chapleau, and the other representatives of the French-Canadians of that time. If any more had been askedi by them there would not have been any confederation. It was hard enough to get George Brown to agree to these privileges for the French language. So it cannot be said that in opposing a resolution of this kind any member of this House is showing hostility to the French language or to French rights. We contend that this proposal is an attack upon the rights of the English-speaking people of Canada, an attack on the rights of every English-speaking young man and young woman, for it forces them either to learn French or to keep out of

Civil Service-French Language

the civil service. If they submit to this encroachment on their rights, why, they are to get extra remuneration.

Let me point out something else, Mr. Speaker. Suppose there are several applicants for a vacancy in the civil service, some of English, some of French, descent. They would be examined either by an English examiner or by a French examiner, and there would be a very marked tendency on the part of either to say that this one could not speak French properly or that that one could not speak English properly. There would be all kinds of disputes, and heartburnings, and controversies, and appeals to the ministers. As my hon. friend knows, I am not enamoured of our Civil Service Act, but at least it secures to the civil service a reasonably fair deal and a certain security of position. If that is to be abandoned and anything Tike this proposal substituted, then you are going to have the civil service degenerate to a point whidh it has not reached yet, and which I hope it never will.

I do not think that my hon. friend was exhibiting that boasted generosity to the minority, which we hear so much about from the province of Quebec. There is no spirit of generosity towards the English-speaking applicant for a civil sendee position in such a resolution as this. Mind you, Mr. Speaker -and I hope I am not offending, I am trying to state the case fairly and moderately- I should like to see these two races in a much greater state of harmony. And there is a way to achieve this. I have suggested before, and I repeat it to-day, that if the leaders of our fellow Canadians in the province of Quebec-and I suppose hon. gentlemen opposite may be regarded as some of those leaders- if they would live up to the British North America Act as closely as the people of Ontario have lived up to it there would be no necessity to organize a bonne entente; there always would have been a bonne entente. Not a man in Ontario wants to break the British North America Act in any particular. The whole trouble is that our friends in Quebec will not observe the act. Ontario and the other provinces are not aggressive against their sister province of Quebec. It is that certain leaders in Quebec are aggressive against the other provinces, and will not observe the conditions of the act of confederation.

I do not think, Mr. Speaker, that even those members of the House who are French would expect us to accept a motion of this kind; I think the hon. member who introduced it would have been very much surprised had I not said anything about it, as I

{Mr. Hocken.]

regard it as a very grave injustice to the people I represent. If I did not protest against it, therefore, I would not be doing my duty. I say again that here is the charter of our liberty; here is the document framed by Cartier, Brown, Macdonald and the others, and if the people of Canada both French and English will live closely to that and adhere to it in every particular there will be no friction existing between the two races in Canada. But so long as there is a demand made for extra-constitutional rights and privileges it must be expected that these will meet with resistance, and as the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) said, the further they are pressed the stronger will be the resistance and the greater will be the ultimate danger to those rights now enjoyed by the French people with the full consent and to the perfect satisfaction of all the other provinces.

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. HENRI BOURASSA (La belle):

It

seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that we had better remain within the scope of this resolution and judge it on its merits. Naturally I will not take up the argument of my hon. friend with regard to regulation 17, because it was only through the indulgence of you, Mr. Speaker, that that was brought up. I simply desire to say to members of this House who respect the rules of debate that they need not expect me to touch upon that matter, although of course I do not accept the views of the hon. gentleman in that connection.

With regard to the motion just now before us, it seems to me that we must consider at once both its principle and application, as in any other proposed enactment. The principle, as I see it, is the assertion of a right connected with the constitution of the country. The hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat read article 133 of the constitution. I suppose in the reading of legislation, as in the reading of Holy Script, there are such things as the spirit and the letter. I will not oppose the view of any French-Canadian to that of the hon. gentleman with regard to the interpretation of our constitution, but rather will I give him the word of a man whose opinion still stands, I think, in the minds of a large number of Canadians, not exclusively Conservatives, as the one man who better understood and to a large extent better applied the spirit of confederation. I refer to Sir John A. Macdonald. Twenty-four years after' this piece of legislation was enacted in London as giving effect to the will of the people of Canada, he made a declaration in the parliament of this country in regard to the status of both languages. The hon. gentle-

Civil Service-French Language

man has just said that there has never been an attempt made by any one outside of Quebec to do away with those rights enjoyed by French-Canadians under the constitution. Evidently his memory is short, because in those days there was a very strong attempt made to altogether do away with the use of the French language in the federal service. That campaign was conducted by Mr. Dailton McCarthy; in provincial affairs it was carried on by Hon. Mr. Meredith, and was also supported, I believe, by the organizations with which the hon. gentleman is connected. Exactly the same arguments were then made as were brought up by the hon. gentleman this afternoon: "This is an English country; Canada has been conquered by Great Britain and therefore must conform to the principles of English government. The English language should Be the sole language of this country as well as of the British empire." Sir John A. Macdonald did not go beyond the boundaries of Canada and did not deal with the whole empire, its ethnical composition or historical development; he contented himself with the statement which I am about to repeat. I have not the book with me but it can be easily found, and I think I know the words almost by heart. He said, "Whether this country was conquered or ceded is a propos de rien", using himself the French words. "Under our present constitution both races", and by that- he meant English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians, "enjoy exactly the same rights in matters of religion, in matters of language, in matters of civil and political rights as well as personal rights, and therefore the two races stand on a footing of equality." That was the spirit of the law. Sir John A. Macdonald had helped to frame the letter of the law, but he had kept also the spirit which had permitted the enactment of confederation. In those days it was not thought necessary to state in so many paragraphs of the constitution that a natural right which had been enjoyed for three centuries by the founders of the country, the pioneers of Canada, those who made it possible for England to keep Canada a British country, should be continued and should not be curtailed by a narrow interpretation of the text of the law by narrow-minded individuals. Therefore the spirit of confederation, the spirit of amity and good will which made confederation possible was preserved, although they did not recite those rights of nature, those rights of the spiritual soul of a nation, in so many articles of law. They did not expect that a time would come when groups or individuals claiming to be their political heirs

would narrow it down to such a measure that, because the right of a national language is acknowledged only in one single article, you must not see that it is kept alive in the political activities of the nation.

In all civilized countries and by all civilized beings, Canada is considered to be a bilingual country, without question. It is a rest for me every time I go to London-and I go frequently-to get away from colonial narrowmindedness and to see how the leaders of thought in England realize how far the British empire is from being an English-speaking community. What an absurd thing! The English race represents only about ten per cent of the population of the British empire. The English language is the one official language of only a very small portion of that empire. I do not know whether or not the hon. member is aware of the fact, but it is a fact that the French language was the only official language of England for about three centuries. Under the Edwards, the English language took form, became the language of society and finally the language of parliament, but not by enactment of law till the time of Elizabeth, if I remember rightly. The English language was first enforced upon Wales by a statute of the British parliament; I think it is the only portion of the British Empire in which that was done, except for a short time in Canada after the rebellion of 1837, when an act of the British parliament imposed the English language as the sole language of Canada. But the English, coming back to their best senses and their best traditions, repealed that act before ten years had elapsed. The Boer language is the official language of South Africa as well as English; the Irish language is to-day the official language of the Irish Free State with English as a secondary language, just as French is in Canada; but thank heavens! the men who rule Ireland, after five centuries of struggle against subjection, are broad enough to give to the English minority in Ireland a position which will never be disputed and to permit them to enjoy not only the use of their own language, but. the other civil and political privileges or natural rights for which the French Canadians have still to fight in effect, owing to the narrow spirit which prevails in some quarters of Canada.

Now to consider whether this motion is opportune or not, we have to take the facts as they are. The hon. gentleman who preceded me himself admits that in the province of Quebec the use of French is necessary in the conduct of public affairs or in the administration of public departments. My hon. friend calls it a French province. I object to that statement, Sir. The province of Quebec is

Civil Service-French Language

not a French province, and the reason why the provincial spirit is still being kept, up in that province is precisely that attitude of mind on the part of a certain number of English Canadians who consider Quebec as apart from confederation, just as, for example, some Indian reserves are kept apart for the preservation of the remnants of our aboriginal ra^s. The province of Quebec is one of the nme Canadian provinces. The vast majority of its people speak French, but they grant to the English minority the right to speak English freely, and they accord to them in the local administrations, municipal or provincial, which are entirely under our control, those facilities which we ask in federal affairs, not merely as a matter of right-I would never put the question on that narrow basis -but as a matter of common sense and true Canadian spirit, so as to spread out into every province of Canada the same spirit of Canadian citizenship which exists in Quebec and should exist everywhere in this Dominion.

This is not, in my view, a matter of sentiment. but of adhering to the principle of confederation, to the terms and spirit of the alliance between the two races who made confederation possible, the founders of the country and the newcomers who came later on and who, after a century of more or less struggle, agreed to bury the hatchet. I come back to the example of the Irish Free State. The descendants of the inhabitants in the English pale, who for centuries had thought that there was no possible destiny for Ireland until the Irish people had consented to become English, finding out that that was not possible, made up their minds to become Irish in their turn and thus have made possible the successful government of that country. We did that sixty years ago. Are we going to exemplify it in the ordinary activities of the state? This, after all, is the question. It simply means that' we are willing to show to the people of this country and to the outsiders who come in-whether they stay with us or traverse our country and learn some of its lessons-that Canada is a different country from the United States. That is the main issue. It is somewhat surprising that certain groups of men who stand as the upholders of everything British are bent on Yankeefying this country as much and as fast as they can. They want to impose on us the Yankee system of education. They want to make of Canada-by language, by habit, by custom and by political administration-a weak and mean replica of the American republic. Well, I have more pride than that, either as a French Canadian, as a Canadian pure and simple, or as a Britisher.

I want Canada to be different from the United States. And how are you going to keep it different? Not merely by proclaiming the king the head of the state. No, the whole of history has proven that emblems of sovereignty and systems of government are not sufficient to keep up the spirit of a nation. It is not by proclaiming in so many articles of law that we acknowledge ourselves British; it is still less by developing in the minds of one-fourth of the population of this country-the pioneers of the land, the only element in Canada which is absolutely and exclusively Canadian, and has been such for centuries-the notion that outside their "Reserve" of Quebec there is no place for them, unless they abide by the will, and the habits, and the language of the majority.

Now, in the public service, I do not hold, as a matter of practice, that every civil servant should be obliged to speak French. No, that would be absurd, and I am sure such an idea does not find a place in the mind of the hon. gentleman who moved the resolution. In that respect, his resolution can be somewhat changed in its wording. But let us take the spirit of it. It means that in this country, first as a matter of historical development, second as a broad interpretation of the constitution of the country, third, taking into account the (Country's present ethnological position, and fourth having in view the necessity of preserving all the mental, moral and social barriers which we can oppose to the penetration of Americanism, we must make this country bilingual as much as we can in order to preserve it as a country different from the American republic. That has always been the main object we had in view in the province of Quebec by demanding-if the hon. gentleman wants me to use that word-by demanding a greater recognition of French all through the country. My hon. friend can take my word for it, that not only when I have spoken before English-speaking audiences, but every time I have spoken on this question in my native province, when there were none but French people to listen to me, my main argument has always been this: It is not as Frenchmen that we should claim a proper place for the French language, and its official expression in all the activities of the state, it is not a mere narrow racial privilege that we ask, but a broad Canadian right, anxious as we are for the preservation of the Canadian soul, a composite one, in constant need of all the good elements and all the contributions which all races can give, but more especially the two main races that have created it.

Civil Service-French Language

Now with regard to the argument made by my excellent friend from Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth), of course the hon. gentleman is right in a way, and the resolution, as I read it, and would interpret it if I were a minister of the crown, would certainly include the possibility of putting at the disposal of any group of individuals all through the land public servants capable of understanding them. There must be s recognition of the situation to which the hon. member (Mr. Woodsworth) alluded. For example, in the United States they have grown wonderfully in that respect in the last twenty-five years. You can go into the Interior department, especially the Immigration branch, or into the large post offices of the United States, and there you will find expert linguists who will interpret almost any language of the world. They do it for the efficiency of their administration, but they do not acknowledge [DOT] thereby that the Spanish, or the Yiddish, or the Portuguese, or the Chinese, are recognized official languages in the United States. Here we put the question on this basis: English and French are the two official languages of Canada. That cannot be denied, they are official languages. Some people may consider that one has more right than the other. In the minds of the men who made the constitution, and in my mind, they have equal rights. That is a question of degree which opens a fair door to debate. But French and English are undoubtedly the two official languages of the country, and that fact ought to be acknowledged in practice.

As regards the argument of economy, made by the hon. member for Joliet,te (Mr. Denis), I have frequented departments of state in this country for thirty years, either as a member of parliament or as a ratepayer, and I have found out exactly the same thing which the hon. gentleman has described, namely, that in many instances there are twenty employees where fifteen would do because such a large proportion of them, being incapable of responding to the needs of the Frenchspeaking ratepayers or people who have to deal with the government, unable to answer them in their language, the service has to be duplicated.

Of course, a policy like this would have to be applied gradually and with common sense. It would not mean the exclusion of all employees who speak only English. It would not mean that possession of the two languages would be the sole or even the principal qualification. I would put the matter in this way: the first qualification for a public

servant is honest}7; the second is efficiency,

expert competency; and the third, is the capability of dealing directly with the people of this country who have a right to be understood in their own language. It seems to me that is fair. The hon. gentleman says that there is no impediment of that kind in the province of Quebec. I can tell him that I myself have gone to the Montreal customs house and, just to find out, inquiring from one wicket to another of the customs, I have had to pass a good many before being able to get an employee who understood a word of French. In the largest French city in the world after Paris and Marseilles, the third largest French city in the- world, I have myself been told by a customs officer in the Montreal post office, when I asked in French for some information-he answered me not in English, but in the American slang which is rapidly taking the place of English in this loyal British country-"Can't you talk English? Don't you know this is an English country?" I said, "Yes, sir, I can mumble a few words of English. I think I know English a little better than you do because it is the king's English I endeavour to speak; but I have a right to be understood in French." He said, "It ain't your right. Don't talk nonsense." That is the way I was answered in a public office in the city of Montreal.

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March 2, 1927