November 25, 1957 (23rd Parliament, 1st Session)


André Gauthier


Mr. Andre Gauthier (Lake St. John):

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to rise in support of the motion of the hon. member for Joliette-L'Assomption-Mont-calm (Mr. Breton) who asks the government

to set up a special parliamentary committee tor the purpose of considering the establishment of a simultaneous translation system. An innovation such as this would certainly promote better understanding between the members of the house, and therefore between all Canadians.
I hope this proposal will be welcomed on both sides of the house, and I add that our English-speaking colleagues should be the first to endorse a project of nation-wide implications such as the one proposed in the motion now before us.
French-speaking members are probably partly responsible for the fact that so far the need was hardly felt for the installation of a simultaneous translation system. In fact, those of us who have a perfect command of English address the house mostly in English. I realize that they do so for the benefit of the unilingual majority and also for the sake of being better understood.
But the consequence of all this is that French, theoretically one of Canada's two official languages, has practically disappeared from the debates, and active participation in debates is confined solely to members who have a perfect command of English. True, all speakers have the privilege of expressing themselves in their own language, but all do not have the satisfaction of being understood.
-nen, Mr. Speaker, simultaneous interpretation would be a notable improvement from the viewpoint of all visitors. All of them would feel more at home while listening to the debates in their mother tongue.
I do not propose to go into the cost of such an undertaking; it would, in any case, be very cheap, in the light of the vast improvement it would mean both for the members and for the cause of national unity.
I had the opportunity of seeing one system of simultaneous translation in operation in 1954, at United Nations headquarters. If a translation system is satisfactory where five languages are spoken, it would be all the more so in this house, where only two official languages are involved.
The Junior Chamber of Commerce of Canada, which has over 25,000 members and which, in the past, has more than once given evidence of its desire to further the cause of national unity, has adopted the simultaneous translation of its own debates and, in May 1956, through its chairman, Mr. Ross Smythe, asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to establish that system which has promoted a better understanding and such a beneficial rapprochement between the two major racial groups in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, as I do not want to delay any longer the passing of this resolution and also
House of Commons
because no further arguments are needed in support of a measure which everybody approves, I shall conclude by expressing the wish that the request of my colleague, the hon. member for Joliette-L'Assomption-Montcalm, meet with unanimous assent. This would be one more step towards national unity.

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