March 2, 1927

CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

The hon. member would

not receive such treatment in Toronto.

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

Quite so. But reverse

the situation. Supposing two-thirds of the federal employees in Toronto were unable to speak in English sufficiently .to meet the requirements of the population of that oity, would the hon. gentleman say that the efficiency of those employees is not greatly curtailed by the fact that they do not speak the language of the ,population with whom they have to deal? I repeat: all these things have to be taken, first, from a broad point of view of principle and, second, from the point of view of practical application. We should adopt the motion of the hon. member for L'Assomption-Montcalm (Mr. Seguin) in that spirit, not with the idea that, every minister should immediately set to work to put aside all those employees who speak nothing but English, but with the idea of opening the eyes and the minds of the present servants of the country, and of aspirants to the public service, in order to make them realize that French Canada is not a detached portion of this Dominion, that French Canada, or rather Canada, French in its origin, but thoroughly Canadian, is not to be kept solely and absolutely in the province of Quebec. That you

Civil Service-French Language

cannot do; I cannot do it, nobody can-until the French-Canadians have learned that new form of American civilization, which unfortunately is spreading out in some of the English provinces, that the future of Canada is to be assured by the development of such families as are composed of a man, a woman and a pet dog. So long as the French-Canadians, thanks to that obnoxious, domineering church, and that horrible hierarchy which is so much denounced by the hon. gentleman, keep to the habit of giving to the church and state all the good children they can give, you cannot prevent the expansion of the French-Canadian. Are you going to receive them in Ontario and elsewhere as brothers, as fellow citizens, or as foreigners, as intruders? Are you going to receive them in this way, for example: some people wrote me last year from Manitoba-or Saskatchewan -that while they had been invited to go out and take up sections in the west, not being understood by the land agent of the Interior department of this government, they had to write to Ottawa to get a translation of their letter to the agent and a translation of the agent's letter to them, so that it took fifteen days for them to understand from the local agent of the Department of the Interior of this Dominion under what conditions they held their title, and so forth?

If you want to kill what remains in Quebec, though less than in the other provinces, of that sectional, provincial spirit; if you do not want to revive the spirit which existed before confederation; if you want the French-Canadians to feel as much at home in Ontario as in Quebec, you must deal with them as you would like to be dealt with. Supposing this country had been settled by the English and conquered by the French, a foreign power; supposing that French laws had been imposed upon you and that gradually, after a century of trouble, you had come to terms with a French majority. Endeavour to look upon questions of this nature from that point of view, inspired with the spirit of amity, of fair play, but especially of Canadian citizenship. Develop in the minds of all Canadians the idea that there must be concessions right and left, that there must be give and take, and that all the elements, but especially the two main elements of this country must put firmly, strongly, on the body of the Canadian nation the stamp of their peculiar genius; because the grandeur of Canada, if it can exist and develop by itself independently, I will not say separately or in enmity, but independently from the tremendous influences of the United States, will be in the measure in which will be preserved all through Canada

that spirit of cooperation between French and English, in the measure in wdiieh you allow the French-Canadians and their descendants to imbibe some of your spirit, and you take some of theirs, although that may be regrettable from your point of view. Of course, at times, it would be more agreeable for us to live in a country where we would be all by ourselves, where we could enjoy fully our own institutions, speak nothing but our language, and learn a foreign language just for the pleasure of doing so. We have, however, come to realize that there is a direct benefit to us in getting from you what we lack; but more than that, we consider it is our primary duty as Canadian citizens to make it possible that the two races cooperate with each other to the grandeur and the strength of Canadian civilization. In the spirit of this resolution is to be found one method by which the government and the parliament of Canada can help us out in broadening that national spirit and making it a true Canadian spirit such as it was conceived by Macdonald and maintained as long as Macdonald lived.

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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. J. W. EDWARDS (Frontenac-Adding-ton):

Mr. Speaker, no person will deny for a moment that from a cultural standpoint two languages are better than one and three are better than two. The hon. member (Mr. Bourassa) said: This brings up not only a

principle but the application of a principle. This resolution proposes to give preference in future appointments to Canadians knowing the two official languages. Such a resolution it is impossible for this House to accept. This House cannot put itself on record as being in accord with a resolution of that kind because by. doing so we would place the English language in an inferior position to the French language in the Dominion of Canada, and it would be so regarded outside of Canada all over the world. There can be no question at all about that.

From the standpoint of efficiency, I presume that in conducting the affairs of this country, the various departments will take into consideration, when persons apply for a position, not only the French language but other languages that may dominate in that particular portion of Canada where the official is to act. It is quite conceivable to me that in certain parts of the northwest where you would have a strong German settlement, for instance, or a strong Polish settlement, it would be advisable in sending an official there to give preference among those applying for the position to the person who had a knowledge not only of the English language but of the language used in that particular locality.

War Charities Act

That, I presume, is being done now. I am sure it is being done now, and that preference is being given, in order that the affairs of the country may be the better administered, to the French language in many parts of the country. I think we may depend very well upon the various departments to handle that matter from that point of view, and to consider the qualifications of those applying for a position, having regard to the place where the appointee is to act, and to give preference to those who can speak the kind of language or languages that are spoken there. I believe that is being done now to a very large extent. I believe it should be done in the interests of good service to the country.

But, Sir, while I think we may very well depend upon the various deputies to administer their departments along that line, that is a very different thing from passing a law saying that those people in this country who possess a knowledge of the French language as well as of the English language must and shall be given a preference over all others. That is something, I say, which this government and no other government dare place on the statute books of this country.

In regard to giving additional remuneration to such people, that argument might just as well apply to the members of this House, and a French member might demand that he be given an extra indemnity because he was able to speak fluently in French as well as in English. The thing is ridiculous. You might carry out that same principle with regard to the employees of the Canadian National Railways. The railways are owned by the country, and although its employees are not listed as civil servants, they are in a sense civil servants. Would you apply the same principle there and let it be known throughout the world that in this Dominion of Canada, a supposedly British country, employees not only of the civil service at Ottawa, but also of the Canadian National Railways, if they speak French shall be given a preference every time over a man who understands the English language only? I say that is something which it would be impossible to apply.

I am not going to attempt to take up regulation 17.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Six o'clock.

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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

I am watching the clock, and the Speaker is in the chair. My hon. friend from Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) criticised the hon. member for Toronto West Centre (Mr. Hocken) because in his judgment he was out of order in referring to regulation 17. With all due deference to the hon. member for Labelle, I thought very many times

when he was going back sixty and a hundred and two hundred and three hundred and four hundred and five hundred years into history, as he always does in making a speech in this House, no matter what the subject is, that he was further out of order than the hon. member for Toronto West Centre.

Just before I move that this debate be adjourned, I want to say this: There is no desire in this country to treat those of the French race and French language harshly. For my part, I am free to say that I would like to see the English language the distinctive mark of our common citizenship in this Dominion of Canada. I say that that is something I would like to see, that all the races coming here would regard the English language as the distinctive mark of our common citizenship here in Canada.

I want to add, before moving the adjournment of the debate, this further word. I want to impress on the minds of hon. gentlemen opposite, and on no person more than on the hon. member for Labelle that, whatever he desires for the French language, the English language cannot and shall not and will not be ostracised or outlawed in any part of the Dominion of Canada.

At six o'clock the House adjourned, without question being put, pursuant to rule.

Thursday, March 3, 1927

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March 2, 1927