March 2, 1927 (16th Parliament, 1st Session)


Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)


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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