March 2, 1934

OFFICIAL REPORT

FIFTH SESSION-SEVENTEENTH PARLIAMENT 24-25 GEORGE V, 1934 VOLUME II, 1934 COMPRISING THE PERIOD FROM THE SECOND DAY OF MARCH, 1934, TO THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF APRIL, 1934, INCLUSIVE BEING VOLUME CC FOR THE PERIOD 1875-1934 INDEX ISSUED IN A SEPARATE VOLUME OTTAWA J. O. PATENAUDE PRINTER TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY 1934 CANADA


House of Commons debates



Friday, March 2, 1934


BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE


On the orders of the day:


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I notice that at adjournment last night the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) said that he understood there was an arrangement that we should continue to-day with the debate on Bill No. 4, respecting the bureau for translations, after which we would take up the bill to incorporate the Bank of Canada. The arrangement to which my right hon. friend referred is possibly one which he may have had with his own Secretary of State (Mr. Cahan), but as I understand it, there has been no arrangement between the two sides of the house. In connection with the bill to incorporate the Bank of Canada I did tell the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) that if it were agreeable we would be prepared to proceed this afternoon, but nothing was said with respect to the other legislation.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, the right hon. gentleman is quite right. When I indicated that Bill No. 4 would be taken up, I did so because it had been discussed previously and given precedence in the early part of the week. As I indicated, I thought it was the understanding that it would be proceeded with again to-day. The right hon. gentleman is quite correct in saying that there was no arrangement with the opposition to this effect. I understand that he will not be here on Monday and possibly on Tuesday, and it is not probable that I shall be here on one of those days. If he desires, the Bank of Canada bill can stand until Thursday. We could then proceed this afternoon with the discussion as indicated last night. I do not think we could take a division to-night as so many members are away, but possibly at nine o'clock or before we could take up some items in supply. I desire to suit the convenience of the right hon. gentleman.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The translations bill is one which affects in a very special way hon. members from the province of Quebec. My right hon. friend knows that Friday is not a very good day for the discussion of measures which affect particularly members from that province. I think there is a recognition of that fact between the different sides of the house. For this reason it was a bit of a surprise to us to find that this particular bill was mentioned for discussion today. I think it would meet with the approval of hon. members on this side of the house if it could stand over, but we leave ourselves in the hands of the government. As to the bill to incorporate the Bank of Canada, if it is agreeable to hon. members in other parts of the house to proceed at once, we are quite leady to do so. If not, I think perhaps it would be advisable that it should not come up on a day when the Prime Minister and I, myself, might both be away, although it is not absolutely necessary that it should not. However, I would prefer to be here.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

We desire to accommodate ourselves to the wishes of the house in a matter of this kind. Perhaps the same consideration would obtain with respect to the Bank of Canada bill as with respect to the translations bill, as I understand an amendment is to be moved to the former. Under the circumstances, we would prefer not to proceed to-day. Might I suggest that we go on with the translations bill until six o'clock and not proceed further. One hon. gentleman is in the middle of his speech and I notice others present who are vitally affected.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I thank the

Prime Minister for endeavouring to accommodate us, but perhaps it would be better if it were understood that we proceed with the translations biil until such time as it may be desirable to adjourn.

Mr. BENhiETT: We will do that if it

meets with the approval of the house. We

1112 COMMONS

Translations Bureau-Mr. Bouchard

shall proceed with Bill No. 4 until such time as the debate may be adjourned and then take up an item in supply.

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BUREAU FOR TRANSLATIONS


The house resumed from Tuesday, February 27, consideration of the motion of Mr. Oahan for the second reading of Bill No. 4, respecting the bureau for translations, and the proposed amendment thereto of Mr. Chevrier.


LIB
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member has

spoken for forty minutes.

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LIB

Lucien Dubois

Liberal

Mr. L. DUBOIS (Nicolet) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, it may, perhaps, be thought that I am somewhat out of my element in taking part in a debate which pertains more to the sphere of legal men. Like my good friend the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa), I have not the privilege of being a lawyer. However, I have the honour of representing a rural constituency which is interested in having translation done efficiently. Our farmers often require publications which pertain to branches or divisions such as those of the dairy industry, seed grain, livestock, eggs, poultry, fruit, vegetables and markets, etc., I, therefore, feel authorized to express my views on the

present bill which is being discussed by the house. I shall do so without wounding the feelings of any one so that I rely on the good will of my hon. colleagues. It might perhaps be that in the course of my remarks, I may not quite agree with the hon. Secretary of State (Mr. Cahan), I may also cause him some regret, although I have had, for a long time, much esteem for him. Shall I wound the susceptibility of the hon. member for Labelle? However, inwardly, I feel the necessity of expressing my views on this bill. I frankly confess that it is one of the few occasions that I find it difficult to fulfil my duty.

Before broaching the subject matter under discussion and seeing that it is the first time that I have the opportunity of addressing the house, this session, I wish to strongly protest against the statement made by the hon. member for Compton (Mr. Gobeil) with reference to the university of Montreal. I regret that such an unfortunate statement should have fallen from the lips of one of my fellow farmers. Because, we, who belong to the soil, have long understood the importance of an education for our people and, especially, the importance of our universities. Again, I state that I regret that my hon. friend used such insulting words towards this institution which has rendered, is rendering and will, in the future, render great services to the farming class.

Bill No. 4, which we are asked to consider has for its object: first, efficiency in the translation of the various documents of this house and governmental departments; secondly, to economize. In perusing the bill, I asked myself: Who prompted this measure? Who invented this new system? In what surrounding was this bill concocted?

There was an inquiry held in December, 1932, by a committee of representatives of the various departments who studied a number of questions dealing with a more efficient control of the expenditure of the administration. The committee was composed of Messrs. Watson Sellar, Roberts, Cook, Coolican, etc. They represented the various departments. I eagerly read the report of this committee. After sitting for quite a time the committee came to the following conclusion. All the high officials who were members of this committee, all without exception, most strongly opposed any scheme of centralization. Two principal reasons were given: First, the inconvenience which would result in the efficient administration of departments; secondly, the necessity of having in departments a bureau for translation where, without delay and fear

Translations Bureau-Mr. Dubois

of indiscretion, correspondence and confidential documents would continue to be well translated.

Moreover, in the report of the committee making tihe inquiry, under the chairmanship of Mr. Sellar, one may find in section 21, the following comments and findings:

The committee has received no complaints concerning the quality of the matter translated. They found that decentralization is general in all departments. This system was adopted following the investigation made on this question, in 1910, after the report of Mr. Aehille Frechette, who, on an order of Internal Economy Committee of the House of Commons, visited Belgium and Switzerland to observe the systems in those countries. According to the information furnished to the committee, the departments are, in general, in favour of maintaining the statu quo.

I need not state, sir, that it is unnecessary to insist on the importance of such findings. If the present system is not perfect, if it requires timely improvements, there seems to be only one conclusion which we can arrive at from the impartial findings of the committee: the condemnation, without appeal, of the desire for centralization. Two persons were also consulted with reference to this bill No. 4, Mr. Bland and Mr. Beauchesne, however, their suggestions are considered as confidential. I wonder whether it is owing .to such suggestions that the hon. Secretary of State thought fit to propose the centralization of translation?

I can almost assert, without gainsay, that Bill No. 4 did not take birth in the brains of the hon. Secretary of State. I think there exist hidden instigators who are the authors of this act. It is, to say the least, most untimely. It strikes me that the house at present has enough serious and important questions to settle without having to raise a discussion on such a controversial subject as that of translation. I am willing to believe that the hon. Secretary of State, who has accepted the sponsorship of this bill, is well intentioned. He has perhaps in mind the efficiency of translation and economy of public moneys. However, I am bound to state, from a farmer's viewpoint, that this gilded piece of legislation tells me nothing. I rather feel perplexed. I have my doubts as to the efficiency of the measure we are asked to approve. To prove this, I shall examine the two reasons invoked to induce us to support bill No. 4.

The hon. Secretary of State contends in his explanatory notes:

It is desirable in the interest of efficiency and economy that it should now be organized and the work of translating so distributed' that no translator shall be idle or overworked, underpaid or overpaid.

This viewpoint was discussed with wit and pertinently by the hon. member for Ottawa (Mr. Chevrier). The economic question was also discussed in a masterly way by my hon. friend. I regret that the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) thought fit to express entirely opposite views from those held by the hon. member for Ottawa. The hon. member for Labelle is better qualified than I am to speak in this house. I have nothing to teach him. However, I represent the county of Nicolet while he represents the county of Labelle. Notwithstanding all the esteem and regard I have for him, I deem it my duty to openly and clearly express my views on this legislation. I regret to disagree with him;

I more so regret it because he was one of those who exerted the strongest influence over my youthful ideas and fired my enthusiasm of twenty years ago. I thought I could as a young member look to him as a guide for future years; however, there is too much incoherence in his way of looking at this bill to induce me to place any trust in the statements he made the other day here in the house, and to accept his principles. I hope he will not bear me any grudge. He is broadminded and his heart is in the right place. He will forgive me for having my elbow' room with him. The hon. member for Labelle endorsed what he considered the efficiency of bill No. 4.

May I, sir, submit to the consideration of the house an excerpt which an eminent journalist wrote recently:

Translating is not commonplace, a task; or an easy one to perform. To succeed one must have a sufficient knowledge of one language to be certain of the sense and the exact meaning of the text; one must also have a sufficient knowledge of another language to be certain of transcribing in a clear and precise way, with new expressions, this sense clearly unravelled. All those who have tried their hand recognize that it is a difficult task, even if it be an ordinary text which deals with current events. One may perfectly understand in reading, the sense of a document without being able to translate it properly in one's own language.

When it is a question of a technical subject, the problem, often, becomes extremely difficult. An entirely new' vocabulary must be acquired and infinite details must be verified. With the decentralization system, which assigns a few translators to such and such a department, you have there individuals who have a particular interest in studying the vocabulary of their specialty. Bye and bye, that goes without saying, they will be in a position to perform their task in a shorter time and with less difficulty. It becomes a real hobby among a number of them. They collect dictionaries and technical reviews and when they make some discovery, it is classified on cards. It is an acquired wealth which will become useful in the future. This desire of always wanting to

Translations Bureau-Mr. Dubois

improve was even responsible for the founding of a society which endeavours to improve the technological vocabulary.

If this organization is destroyed, if the translations are placed in one large office where all will be required, at times, to translate any kind' of translation, is it not to be feared that this desire to improve will be sapped at its very foundation?

As matters stand, the translator in the Mines branch may hope to master the vocabulary of that industry. This is not out of reach of an intelligent man, possessing a general and proper preparation. He is aware that once he has attained this goal, his work will become easier, and at the same time, much improved. If he is placed in a large office, will he be able, will he even attempt to acquire this ability? He will have to become specialized in all subjects: that is impossible, and he will not put his heart in a task which is above human attainment.

The final result will be the grouping of persons who will have a superficial knowledge but, on the whole, no thorough knowledge of any subject. We mentioned "final" because centralization, if it decreases the desire and means of improving, will not deprive the present specialists of their worth and we can foresee that their help will be continuously in demand. Why then drag them away from the surroundings where they are in the habit of working, where they are given all the means to improve, and further increase their worth.

The specialization of translators would, in a short time, disappear. It could hardly maintain itself until the retirement or disappearance of the present generation of specialized translators.

It is not necessary to be well informed to understand that a translator who is in the habit of translating in the Department of Agriculture, who has specialized on such subjects as, seeding, aviculture or various chemical fertilizers, cannot become an expert if he is transferred to the Mines branch or Engineering branch.

The hon. member for Labelle complained, the other day, that in translation bureaus a number of employees do not work continuously. He even stated to support his arguments, that such a translator had translated 149 pages in a year, while another, during the same period, had translated a thousand and a few pages, etc.

I wish to first state that the figures he quoted do not appear to me to be correct. I am anxious to see the report of the committee which is to inquire as to the practical application of this bill. I even feel convinced that certain figures were falsified, not by the hon. member for Labelle, because, to my mind he is a very conscientious man, but by those who supplied him with such figures. I find the proof in this fact: that the person who was able to translate 1,076 pages, in one year, is an employee of the Bureau of Statistics, Department of Trade and Commerce. It is unfair to compare the work of a translator in the Bureau of Statistics with a translator of the Mines branch. The former is often called upon to translate but figures, and figures whether ini English or French are similar. One need not be very clever to know that tariff items, from No. 1 to No. 1,200, are translated in English by 1 to 1,200, without even having to look up the dictionary. While the translator employed in the Mines branch must make use of technical terms; his work is far more complicated and difficult, often he ihas to make researches. Furthermore, I shall again avail myself of an argument of the hon. member for Labelle: Did he not state, himself, that when he translated his speeches, he, at times, pondered two hours on one term to find the corresponding word? How do we know that the translators of the various departments are not obliged to devote sometimes two hours per day, to translate the exact meaning of a text? What happens when it is a case of translating documents of a constitutional order, constitutional law or international law? The translator must make researches, pore, hour after hour, over dictionaries so as to find out the thought of the author before translating it. And we expect that the translator, who is obliged to carry out long and careful researches to translate the thought of an author from the text which he is given, will translate the same number of pages as the one who has but figures to translate? That would be unfair.

I think that if we centralize translation, translation will suffer by it, because we smother individual effort. Although that is not the object of the hon. Secretary of State, since he denies that he intends to interfere with the translation of documents; we cannot, however, simply take the word of the hon. Secretary of State on this matter. If his statement was embodied in bill No. 4; if the interpretation given by the hon. member for Labelle was inserted in the bill, I would feel less skeptic and probably support the measure. If, to-day, in the house, the hon. Secretary of State, openly gave me his assurance that he would take special care not to smother the individual effort, to have all required documents translated, I would, to some extent, show myself more amenable to his views.

Another consideration. I may be mistaken, but, it was stated, that this bill No. 4 would help to improve translation. It is an instrument, a tool, states the Secretary of State. I cannot see clearly the necessity for such a tool at present. The decentralization sys-

1116 COMMONS

Translations Bureau-Mr. Dubois

tern has given its proofs in the departments where the chiefs were broadminded and used common sense. This proof for instance is to be found in the Department of Trade and Commerce. With the present system we can have at the same time, the publication of the trade bulletin both in English and French. There is great improvement in the publication of the Year Book. Why should this not be in the departments complained of? If the Minister of Trade and Commerce is able to make a success of translation in his department without the help of Bill No. 4, why not the Minister of Agriculture, why not the Prime Minister, why not the Secretary of State himself?

Another reason why I am opposed to this bill and shall vote in favour of the amendment of my hon. friend for Ottawa, it is, as I stated at the outset, this gilded measure tells me nothing. There is nothing in the bill which safeguards the rights of the French language and there is nothing which would constitute an official recognition of that language, so far as translation is concerned.

Mr. ST-BERE (Translation): That is a fact.

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LIB

Lucien Dubois

Liberal

Mr. DUBOIS (Translation):

To any observing mind, the past is there to prove it. Not always have we had, in a wide measure, what we had a right to expect. I feel convinced, in spite of the good will of the hon. Secretary of State, we shall still not be able to make a success of Bill No. 4. As long as he holds that portfolio, perhaps-I have so much esteem for him, I have heard of him for ever so long; but the hon. Secretary of State shall not always occupy the post he has, he shall be replaced. Will the superintendent of this translation bureau be a broadminded man, will he interpret the law, Art. 133 of the British North America Act with an open mind? Experience has taught us, that when we leave it to the government to interpret an act, often, the letter of the law is applied rather than the spirit. Therefore, sir, with such apprehension, I am forced to vote against bill No. 4, unless the hon. Secretary of State wishes to state to the house that this bill is a clearer recognition of the official statute dealing with the French language in the debates. If the hon. Secretary of State would publicly state that it is a greater guarantee for the French language, I could be more lenient towards the measure under consideration.

According to this bill, it is simply a centralization of the translators, and we find in clause 3 a formula which gives me some concern:

LMr. Dubois.l

3. (1) There shall be a bureau under the minister, to be called the Bureau for Translations, the duties and function of which shall be to collaborate with and act for all departments of the public service, and both houses of the parliament of Canada and all bureaus, branches, commissions and agencies created or appointed by act of parliament, or by order of the governor in council, in making and revising all translations from one language into another of all departmental and' other reports, documents, debates, bills, acts, proceedings and correspondence.

There is a long enumeration, but it is not stipulated whether this bill will specially provide for the French language. Moreover in paragraph 2 of clause 4:

(2) The minister may from time to time designate such translators or other employees in the public service or in any department or branch of the public service as he may deem necessary for carrying into effect the provisions of this act, and the governor in council may, from time to time, transfer to the bureau any of the said translators, or other employees so designated.

This is another matter of apprehension. Let us take as an example a qualified translator in the Department of Agriculture, who happens to be a French Canadian. Far be it from my thought, the idea that some one will take advantage of this bill to openly persecute my compatriots. That is not the point. However, what would happen if we were dealing with a narrow-minded man, as this has sometimes happened? Let us suppose, therefore, a French Canadian translator in the Department of Agriculture, whose turn has come for a promotion which might perhaps interfere with the promotion of translators belonging to another nationality. Perhaps, means would be found to transfer this competent translator-finding some excuse -from the Department of Agriculture where he might continue to be in the way of one more influent than himself, to the bureau for translations under the plea that his services are specially required in the latter place.

My hon. friend the member for Hochelaga (Mr. St-Pere) expressed such an apprehension while a number of my colleagues entertain similar fears in this respect. Are we not justified, sir, in having some apprehension to vote in favour of this measure? In no way does it embody all the guarantees necessary so far as translation efficiency is concerned; and-I speak on my behalf-as to the safeguarding of our rights to the French language.

I can also give another reason for my apprehension. You are aware, sir, that in 50 per cent of the departments of the government for translation there is no bilingualism. We note that, in many departments, we have not been dealt with fairly. I have

Supply-Secretary oj State

here, as one example, the names of officials of the National Revenue Department, it will prove that we have reason to have apprehensions when our interests are at stake.

I shall quote the names of the principal officials of the National Revenue Department. Let us see whether we find one French Canadian name. The hon. minister who is in charge of the department is the Hon Mr. Matthews; his private secretary is Mr. Code; the Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Scully; the Commissioner of Excise, Mr. Sim; the Commissioner of Income Tax, Mr Elliott; the Assistant Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Blair; the Assistant to the General Executive, Mr. Ide. I hold no animosity against those who do not belong to my race-

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CON

Maurice Dupré (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DUPRE (Translation):

And Mr. Gaboury?

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LIB

Lucien Dubois

Liberal

Mr. DUBOIS (Translation):

Among the

English speaking members as well as among the English speaking employees there are qualified, intelligent, straightforward and conscientious men who are fair in the distribution of work and if they had to settle the present question, would not fear to do justice to our compatriots who could ably fill posts in the public service or elsewhere.

The hon. Secretary of State still persists in having this Bill No. 4 enacted, notwithstanding the press campaign carried on against it throughout the country. It is true that the hon. member for Labelle designated as little scraps of paper the petitions that were signed and articles that were published in newspapers, such as the " Devoir," the " Droit," " l'Action Catholique," and " Le Canada." He designated as little scraps of paper the warning of our national associations. But it was public opinion that spoke. The hon. Secretary of State is sufficiently wise, open-minded to realize the injustice this bill is doing us. With the broad-mindedness I know he has, I think *the Secretary of State should not insist further, he should even drop the bill so as not to force us to vote against it.

Mr. DESLAURIERS moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to and debate adjourned.

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DEPARTMENT OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE

March 2, 1934