Mr. Andre Gauthier (Lake St. John):
Mr. Speaker, I believe that as a Canadian of French descent, it is my duty to make a few comments concerning the bill that is now before this house. I think there is not much I can add to the remarks of the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Poulin). His speech was a model of moderation, and indicates on the part of its author a thorough command of his subject.
I merely wish to add a few general thoughts and take this opportunity of making my position known on this important matter.
Financial Administration Act Quite a number of my supporters have asked me to state my position in this respect.
I have no hesitation whatsoever in stating that I support this bill with all my heart and that I will proudly vote in favour of its adoption.
The origin of bilingualism in Canada dates much farther back than 1867; the ^ French achievement is the very basis of the discovery and' colonization of our beautiful and great country. The hazards of European politics, in which we did not participate, ordained that we were to share with the Anglo-Saxon people the privilege of creating a young and vigorous nation.
This dual civilization, which enriches Canadian life and of which we are proud, must be exteriorized by all means of expression at our disposal.
Every people has its own character, its own genius, its own heredity. It might be thought by some people that we should not attach so much importance to the printing in both languages of government cheques and other negotiable notes. However, in my view, Mr. Speaker, it is a practical way of expressing the characteristics of the Canadian people.
The confederation act officially sanctioned the mutual wish of both racial groups of this country to work side by side for the greatness of Canada, in the respect of one another's rights.
The principle of bilingualism, Mr. Speaker, has been established and recognized by section 133 of the British North America Act. We should remember that section for it had a great influence all along the advance of the Canadian nation towards its maturity. It reads as follows:
Either the English or the French language may be used by any person in the debates of the houses of the parliament of Canada and of the houses of the legislature of Quebec; and both those languages shall be used in the respective records and journals of those houses; and either of those languages may be used by any person or in any pleading or process in or issuing from any court of Canada established under this act, and in or from all or any of the courts of Quebec.
The acts of the parliament of Canada and of the legislature of Quebec shall be printed and published in both those languages.
From the text I just quoted, it was obviously the legislator's intention to make the use of both languages mandatory in the drafting of official parliamentary documents. I admit that neither cheques nor other negotiable effects are specifically mentioned in clause 133, but if this section of the Constitution is to be construed practically and logically, the use of both official languages should obviously find place in every manifestation of Canadian life. In 1927, postal orders, money orders, postal and excise stamps were made
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Financial Administration Act bilingual. While this act of courtesy, of justice and generosity on the part of our Englishspeaking fellow citizens hurt no one, it was a great cause of satisfaction to all Canadians of French origin.
A second important step towards bilingualism was the issue of bilingual money in 1936. This took place under a Liberal government and the argument of those who held that this gesture might foster disagreement or create difficulties for the government is easily disproved by the fact that, since 1936, national unity has made giant strides, and the government that was responsible for it has been continually re-elected since.
The bill before us would complete the official recognition of bilingualism by printing in both languages cheques and other negotiable effects issued by the government or by a crown corporation. Once more our English-speaking compatriots are given a chance to show that they understand and appreciate the French element's share in the birth, conservation, safeguard and development of our country.
All through our political history, the Liberal party has been recognized as the party of Canadian unity. Its leaders have always given perfect examples of their broad-mindedness and of their spirit of conciliation. They have long since understood that Canada's future rests on the vitality of two great races having different traditions, marching side by side, but without merging or losing their characteristics and without there being any question of assimilation.
They also understood that each should strive to know the other better, and that while scrupulously respecting the constitutional rights of minorities, a study of both official languages should be encouraged as much as possible.
But to reach that goal, we must first recognize those languages in a practical and effective way everywhere in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, bilingual postage stamps, bilingual bank notes, bilingual cheques are all messages of good will that circulate between provinces. To foreigners they proclaim our bi-ethnical character, and to Canadians they testify to the maturity of our nation and effectively prove our mutual understanding and the reciprocal recognition of our mutual rights.
I do not want to speak too long, so as not to delay the passing of this bill.
In the past, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) has shown his spirit of fairness and understanding. I am confident he will grant
the request made in this bill and that he will give the necessary instructions so that, from now on, all cheques and negotiable instruments issued by the government or by crown corporations will be printed, as the bill says, both in English and in French.
Before 1 resume my seat, Mr. Speaker, let me say once again that I will be glad to vote in favour of the bill introduced by the hon. member for Beauce.
Topic: FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR PRINTING OF NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS IN BOTH ENGLISH AND FRENCH