Weekly Committee Review – April 23 – 26, 2012

Standing Committee on Official Languages (LANG)

The Standing Committee on Official Languages continued its Evaluation of the Roadmap: Improving Programs and Service Distribution this week. On Tuesday, the committee listened to testimonies from la Fédération Franco-ténoise, l’Association des Francophones du Nunavut (website in French only), l’Association des francophones de Terre-Neuve et Labrador (French only), and the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities. NDP MPs Robert Aubin and Dan Harris have been replaced with the MPs Pierre Dionne Labelle and Tyrone Benskin.

Thursday’s meeting followed the same pattern as previous meetings. On the panel for Thursday were representatives from Concordia University, the Regional Association of West Quebecers, the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation and la Société Nationale de l’Acadie. All the organisations recommended the renewal of the Roadmap.

Cette semaine, le comité a continué l’Évaluation de la feuille de Route : Amélioration des Programs et la Prestation des Services. Le comité a écouté les témoignages de quatre organismes; la Fédération Franco-ténoise, l’Association des Francophones du Nunavut, l’Association des Francophones de Terre-Neuve et Labrador et l’Institut Canadien de la Recherche sur les Minorités Linguistiques. Les députés du NPD Robert Aubin et Dan Harris a été remplacé par les députés Pierre Dionne Labelle et Tyrone Benskin.

Jeudi, on a eu quatre différentes organismes faire des témoignages. L’Université de Concordia, l’Association Régionale des West Quebecers (site web en anglais seulement), la Corporation d’Employabilité et de Développement Économique Communautaire et la Société Nationale de l’Acadie. Les séances suivaient le même pattern que ces-uns précédents. Les organismes ont tous recommandé le renouvellement de la Feuille de Route.

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (JUST)

The committee met twice this week to study Bill C-304, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting freedom). The bill repeals section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which is alleged to erode the right of freedom of expression.

On Tuesday, April 24th, the committee heard from the bill’s sponsor, Mr. Brian Storseth (), who gave an opening statement and answered questions. A second panel followed that included Mark Toews and Judy Hunter of the Canadian Bar Association; Mark Freiman of the Canadian Peres Center for Peace Foundation; and Kathleen Mahoney of Calgary University. Each witness was critical of the bill, but none more so than the representatives of the CBA, who came prepared with a comprehensive submission on the bill drafted by the organization’s Constitutional and Human Rights Law section. The debate between the CBA and Conservative members of the committee was often heated. The relevant transcript can be found here.

On Thursday, March 26th, the committee heard from representatives of B’nai Brith Canada, who expressed their support for Bill C-304. The committee then proceeded to commence clause-by-clause study of the bill. The amendments offered by Liberal Sean Casey were rejected and a single amendment offered by Conservative MP Robert Goguen() was ruled out of order by Conservative chair Dave Mackenzie (). The latter was ultimately passed through an appeal of the chair’s decision made by Goguen and supported by the NDP. The sole member to vote against the appeal was Mr. Casey (See the Minutes here. ) It was ordered that the bill be reported as amended to the House.

Before adjourning the meeting for the day, the committee sat in camera to discuss matters related to committee business.