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


Joseph Henri Napoléon 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.

Topic:   REVISED
Full View