Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 11 - Evidence, February 12, 2007
OTTAWA, Monday, February 12, 2007
The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages met this day at 4:05 p.m.
to study, and to report from time to time, on the application of the Official
Languages Act and the Regulations and directives made under it, within those
institutions subject to the act, and to consider a draft report.
Senator Maria Chaput (Chairman) in the chair.
The Chairman: Dear colleagues and guests, good afternoon and welcome
to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages. My name
is Maria Chaput, I am the chairman of this committee, and I come from Manitoba.
Before giving the floor over to our witnesses, allow me to introduce to you
the other members of this committee. To my right sits Senator Claudette Tardif
from Alberta and, to my left, Senator Gerald Comeau from Nova Scotia.
Today we continue our study on the application of the Official Languages Act.
More specifically, our committee is currently examining the consideration given
to official languages in the organization of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
Today, we have representatives of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, whom we
have invited to appear before us to discuss the consideration of the official
languages in the organization of the 2010 Paralympic Games.
Here to represent the Canadian Paralympic Committee, we have Phil Newton,
Director of Communications, as well as Sophie Castonguay, Manager,
You have 10 to 12 minutes to make your opening statement; then it will be
followed by questions from the senators. The floor is yours.
Phil Newton, Director of Communications, Canadian Paralympic Committee:
Thank you for this opportunity to present to you today. Using both official
languages is an important aspect in the presentation of our cause, so it is a
pleasure to be able to talk about it with you today.
To talk about the Canadian Paralympic movement in its broadest aspect, I
would say that we seek a victory for human dignity and worth on behalf of the
segment of the population that, thanks to the support of the Government of
Canada, will not be left behind. We take this role very seriously; and we
recognize that in order to do this effectively, we have to do it in both
official languages. Right off the top, let me assure you that we do not do this
simply because it is a statute. We do it because it is an imperative.
I will give you a bit of our history. The movement began immediately after
the Second World War when a physician who fled Nazi-occupied Germany to England,
Ludwig Gutman, developed a program of rehabilitation using sports for soldiers
who were returning home with grave injuries. He saw sports as a key aspect of
therapy for these people in relation to their physical and mental health. Since
that time, a full-fledged global movement has developed under the auspices of
the International Paralympic Committee, which sanctions the Canadian Paralympic
Committee in the same way the International Olympic Committee sanctions the
Canadian Olympic Committee. We work within that auspice.
Canada is a leader in the Paralympic community. We do not just win medals; we
are a leader in moving the aims of the movement forward in Canada and in the
world. In Vancouver, Canada has already set new marks in terms of parity with
the Olympic Games by raising the flags together — the movement is presented as
the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is an undertaking on behalf of our
athletes, but also on behalf of everyone in Canada who may have a disability of
one sort or another. It is always my pleasure to remind people that we all will
be disabled one day. This is not just about people in wheelchairs.
Our scope is essentially related to bringing the team forward for the games,
but we are a movement-based organization in that we see the work we do on behalf
of people with physical disabilities in Canada as something that has a wide
The organization is divided into three divisions: a team division, which is
high performance, focused on mounting the teams and bringing them to the games;
a development division, which is focused on the grassroots development of sports
in Canada for people with disabilities — whether it is for recreational or
competitive purposes; and the communications division, which serves to gain
A key difference to bear in mind between the Olympic and Paralympic Games is
that the visibility for the Olympic Games is something the communications
division manages. For Paralympic sport, it is something that we have to create.
It is not at the top of the agenda for any news agency in Canada, so we have to
work hard to get it there. The Government of Canada has been an intrinsic factor
in raising the visibility of Paralympic sport in Canada, and we are truly
grateful for that. It has been a mounting commitment over the years as well, and
Sport Canada is an intrinsic sponsor of our organization. Also, we are sponsored
by a number of private-sector organizations — and I can say happily that our
sponsorship is growing. The movement is in better shape now than it has ever
been in Canada. We are looking forward to the 2010 games as a key moment because
it will be the first Paralympic Games in Canada.
In respect of mounting the games, we are a partner on the 2010 Vancouver
Organizing Committee, with one member on the board of VANOC. As well, the CPC
communications team is partnered with the VANOC communications team.
We have our own policy in respect of languages, which means that the CPC is
bilingual in that all communications are presented in both official languages
and all team management is in both official languages. Many members of our team
are from French-speaking Canada. Some of the leading names in world Paralympic
sport, such as Chantal Peticlerc, are from French Canada. The CPC presents
immediately in both officials languages. We do not prepare a news release in one
language and wait three days for a translation. Rather, they are presented
We do this as an imperative, not just because we have to do this. In terms of
the awareness, visibility and leadership on the part of the media, French Canada
is far ahead of the rest of Canada in its recognition of Paralympic sport. It is
the key market and key audience for the development of Paralympic sport in
Canada. French Canada demands what we have to offer more than the rest of Canada
demands. In terms of the recognition that will be achieved at the Paralympic
Games in Vancouver, I would suggest that the awareness in French Canada will
occur not simply because of the official language policy but because of the
motivation and interest of the people who live in French Canada.
Ms. Sophie Castonguay is responsible for French-language communications
within the Canadian Paralympic Committee. We take the matter seriously enough to
assign the responsibilities centred within the communications division to one
person. Ms. Castonguay looks after communications externally and internally for
the website and for the all-important team communications because we offer all
of our services to the team in both official languages.
Sophie Castonguay, Manager, Communications, Canadian Paralympic Committee:
Madam Chair, with respect to the Paralympic Games, and the fact that athletes
are the very essence of the Canadian team, it is our pleasure to provide
services to coaches and athletes in both official languages. Even the volunteers
and the people working within the Canadian team are bilingual.
When it is impossible for us to find a bilingual person, we make sure that
the team is bilingual and that support is available in both official languages.
An athlete or a coach may request information or services in the language of his
or her choice. That is something we have always insisted upon doing and I
believe athletes are well served.
Of course, there is always room for improvement and experience allows us to
make improvements. With respect to the 2010 Games in Canada, the two official
languages are French and English. So we are sure that everything will be taking
place in French and in English.
I would like to make a small comment, having read your material. I read that
French and English are the two official languages of the Olympic Games. When it
comes to the Paralympic Games, because the organization is completely different,
it does not have to give commentary on the Games in French, English and the
language of the country. So, it would be English and the language spoken in the
For instance in Beijing, commentators must make presentations in English and
probably Mandarin. In Canada, for the 2010 Games it will not be a problem. The
two official languages being French and English, results will obviously be
posted in both languages. That was the comment I wanted to make because these
are two different organizations.
Because I am a francophone and responsible for this program, I supervise
communications. And as Mr. Newton stated, everything we do must be done in both
Regarding representation on the team, Quebec is really leading the way in
Canada when it comes to the Paralympic Movement; francophone athletes comprise
between 20 and 25 per cent of the Canadian team, which is a lot.
Senator Tardif: We are delighted to have you before our committee. I
had the great pleasure of knowing Ms. Petitclerc, who was a student at the
University of Alberta's faculté Saint-Jean for several years when I was dean of
I would like to come back to the distinction you make between the Olympic
Games and the Paralympic Games and the official languages requirement. You say
that these are completely separate organizations. Does that mean that as an
organization you are not required to respect the official languages?
Mr. Newton: Of course, we do here in Canada, but Ms. Castonguay's
point was that the official language of the International Paralympic Committee
is English, unlike the International Olympic Committee, which stipulates that
French and English are the official languages.
Senator Tardif: These distinctions are made at the international
Mr. Newton: Yes.
Senator Tardif: What is your mandate in Canada?
Mr. Newton: Our mandate — our internal policy and the policy of the
Paralympic Games are in both official languages.
Senator Tardif: Is your website in French?
Mr. Newton: Yes, we have two complete websites, one in English and one
Senator Tardif: Is it a bilingual site?
Mr. Newton: The viewer has the choice at the CPC home page of going to
the English site or to the French site.
Senator Tardif: When you say you provide full communication services,
you mean that everything is done in both official languages at the same time.
What services are available to athletes in both languages?
Ms. Castonguay: Everything that is in the public domain, which is
brochures, signs, promotional tools and advertising campaigns. This also applies
to everything for the media, such as press releases and the media information
guide. Since the website is a public communications tool, it is completely
It is our policy to distribute information in both languages at the same
time, not in one of the languages two days later. For example, a press release
will be sent out in French and in English so that the information is available
in both languages at the same time.
Senator Tardif: What percentage of your staff is bilingual?
Mr. Newton: I would say it is more than half.
Ms. Castonguay: If your definition of a bilingual person is someone
who can speak both French and English or understand and answer questions, I
would say that 8 or 10 of our 12 employees are bilingual.
The Chairman: For further clarification, I would like to ask another
question following on the one put by Senator Tardif. You both represent the
Canadian Paralympic Committee. If I understand correctly, the website of the
Canadian Paralympic Committee is available in Canada's two official languages,
and the reason the International Paralympic Committee does not have a website in
Canada's two official languages is that it is an international body — the
language used is English.
Ms. Castonguay: Exactly.
The Chairman: If we think back to the Paralympic Games in Turin, my
question is what is the official language in Turin?
Ms. Castonguay: Italian
Mr. Newton: English and Italian.
The Chairman: So there would have been very little French used at the
Games in Turin.
Mr. Newton: It was limited except for Canada.
The Chairman: Could you explain what you mean by that?
Mr. Newton: All our communications back to Canada were in both French
Ms. Castonguay: Within the organizing committee, the host country must
communicate in English and in the official language of the country in question.
So in the case of Turin, the languages used were English and Italian.
The Chairman: Ms. Lise Bissonnette, a Grand Témoin de la Francophonie,
appeared before the committee to talk about the Olympic Games. Should there not
also be a Grand Témoin de la Francophonie for the Paralympic Games?
Ms. Castonguay: I know that Ms. Bissonnette's study was about the
Olympic Games. Within the IOC, the official languages are English, French and
the language of the host country. No study has been done about the official
languages of the International Paralympic Committee, because it is clearly
stated in the constitution of that committee that English is the language used,
as well as German, because the office is located in Germany. Internal
communications are in German. However, the choice to use another language is
based on a decision made by the organizing committee when it organizes the Games
in its country. In the case of Beijing, the languages will be English and
Mandarin, for example. That is why there are two different organizations, the
IOC and the IPC. Each has a different constitution.
The Chairman: Your explanation is clear. Thank you very much.
Senator Champagne: It is very unfortunate that there is such a great
difference between the IOC and the IPC because, in fact, the IPC is after all —
I was about to say a branch — a result of the Olympics Games. Unfortunately,
they did not choose to keep French and English as the two official languages, as
did the Olympic Games, including, of course, the language of the host country.
Perhaps Mr. Newton could tell us where we should go to suggest gently but firmly
to the IPC that they should make sure that French is reinstated as a language
regularly used by the Paralympic Games as well as the Olympic Games.
Mr. Newton: In other words, to achieve the parallelism of both the
games. Sir Philip Craven is the President of the International Paralympic
Committee and Xavier Gonzalez is the CEO. They are in Bonn, Germany.
This is history and tradition at work. I do not want to speak on behalf of
IPC, but will just give you a hint. The Olympic movement was closely related in
its development with France, and therefore French became implanted in the
Senator Champagne: It is also the fact that, in those years
especially, French was spoken on every continent. French was the second language
in Russia and in Brazil.
Mr. Newton: That is right. The development of the IPC, however, was
later, during the 1960s and 1970s. It chose English as its working language,
with the understanding that the languages of the host countries would also be
applied. There is no obstacle at all because of this language issue with IPC to
the presentation of the games in both official languages in Canada. They are our
official languages and therefore the games will be presented in our official
Senator Champagne: How about the televising of the games? Even though
on the field the languages will more than likely be English and Mandarin, will
it be possible to see those games on a French network?
Mr. Newton: Absolutely — if Radio-Canada buys the broadcasting rights
and attends the games.
I will explain that mechanism to you. The International Paralympic Committee
sells broadcasting rights to the Paralympic Games in the same way as the
International Olympic Committee sells broadcasting rights in the Olympic Games.
It is a competition among the countries around the world of who will purchase
the rights and present them.
In Canada, it has historically always been the CBC and Radio-Canada. I am
presenting a brief to the commission reviewing Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
saying that they should continue that, in that it is a very good role for the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to play. My argument will be that amateur
sport in general, and the Paralympics in particular, should be covered by the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation because the social mandate that it also serves
is imbedded in and manifests the support of the federal government, and because
in the marketplace few of the commercial stations will recognize the market that
exists for Paralympic sport, even though around the world, particularly in
Europe, there are professional leagues now playing. In France on a Saturday
afternoon, you will see wheelchair basketball or blind cycling presented in an
exciting fashion. This is real sports, and it is really exciting. There is
absolutely no concession to be made to the disability of the people involved. In
fact, it is about ability. You forget the disabilities within 30 seconds of
watching a performance.
Senator Champagne: In Quebec, with Chantal Petitclerc and André Viger,
we are very much aware of how exciting it can be. Just make sure you keep those
athletes happy by speaking to them in the language of their choice.
Mr. Newton: On that score, taking care of the athletes is absolutely
critical to the success of the team. The language issue is critical. How can you
take care of them if you do not talk to them in the language that they speak?
That is understood.
Ms. Castonguay: The country that buys the television rights for the
2010 Olympic Games will also obtain, in the package deal, the broadcasting
rights for the Winter Paralympic Games, without paying anything extra. This is
not the case for the 2008 Games, nor was it the case for the previous Games. The
CBC had to purchase the broadcasting rights for the Olympic Games and make
another offer if it wanted to buy rights for the Paralympic Games.
Regarding Vancouver 2010, the consortium will get the broadcasting rights for
the Paralympic Games for free. This is already taken care of; they do not have
to pay anything extra. Then we will have to see the media coverage. However, as
the Games will be held in Canada, and as our winter athletes always put on an
excellent performance in these Games, I think that we will have very good media
coverage. However, this is still being discussed with CTV and the consortium.
Senator Comeau: I think that when CTV appeared before our committee,
we may have neglected to ask them about how they intend to cover the Paralympic
Games. Perhaps we should invite them back to hear their answer, because it would
be very important to make sure that both official languages are respected, since
we want to view the Paralympic Games in French, insofar as possible.
I would like to know the mechanism through which people become Paralympic
athletes. Do they begin by participating in regional Games, and do they go
through successive competitions before coming to the Paralympic Games? In other
words, how do they get to Vancouver?
Mr. Newton: It is a different sport in that the pathway to the Games
and the sports are developed unevenly across the country. For instance, sledge
hockey is well developed in Ontario and Western Quebec, and to a certain extent
it is starting up in British Columbia in advance of the Games. However, we have
a big hole in the middle that we would like to fill, particularly in the
hockey-mad Prairies. Why it is not there is a good question.
In Quebec, there is high development in almost every aspect of Paralympic
sport, and also in Ontario. As I said, British Columbia is probably third in the
country, with Alberta probably fourth. There are also regional contests, both in
the summer and in the winter.
Senator Comeau: I am trying to recall if I know of any Paralympian
from Nova Scotia.
Mr. Newton: I am sure they are there.
Senator Comeau: Maybe that is an area that needs to be looked at, in
order to be able to get good coverage across Canada, if our Olympians from Nova
Scotia, for example, can join a club that would lead to their going to the
Mr. Newton: In terms of the development of the sport, the key step
that must be taken and the key legacy of 2010 that we are looking toward is the
creation of a Paralympic sport system in Canada. We are working with Sport
Canada to that effect. What I mean by that is a feeder system that goes from
recreational or childhood play all the way to the podium. That does not exist
The way the system does take place — and this is a good thing — is in terms
of the leadership being provided by each national sport organization. Hockey
Canada has a Paralympic or a sledge hockey arm. It is integrated, and this is
good. This means that athletes are playing hockey, and coaches and players
exchange. In terms of developing that system, as far as hockey is concerned,
Hockey Canada is in a leadership roll, as is Alpine Canada for downhill skiing
and Nordic Canada for cross-country skiing.
The system is well developed in some areas and nonexistent in others. A
consistent application of the system across the country is important. We are
travelling across the country to speak with provincial governments, because it
is not just the federal government that must play a role in this.
As far as the coverage is concerned, CBC has played the leadership role so
far. The transference to CTV is of some concern to us; however, the concern has
been allayed by the fervent claims on the part of CTV executives that Vancouver
will have the best Paralympic Games coverage ever. That is the message they are
giving to us. I can only take them at their word. They seem to be very excited
about the Games. They have also seen and speak about the excitement and
uniqueness of the Paralympic Games. I am sure they have their marketing caps on
when they talk that way, because there is a market for it. It is a question of
convincing a lot of the sports community that there is a market for this.
Our biggest challenge as a media organization is to convince sport reporters
to go to the Games. Once they get there, the same thing happens: They fall in
love. However, sometimes they must be dragged.
Senator Comeau: One of the things we find is that when people speak
about official languages, quite often they refer to Quebec as being the home of
the French and the rest of Canada as being the home of the English. Do you have
a sensitivity approach — specifically, that there are some francophones outside
Mr. Newton: That is borne out not just in the way we carry out our
media or communications responsibilities but the fact that many of our
francophone athletes come from places other than Quebec. We have francophone
Metis from Saskatchewan and francophones who are now living in British Columbia.
Our team reflects Canada, and athletes come from all over the country.
Senator Comeau: You are a partner with VANOC. You have been in
partnership with the Canadian Olympics over many years, so I imagine the working
relationship has been quite good.
Mr. Newton: We share offices.
Senator Comeau: Have you found that up to now the VANOC group has been
working out well?
Mr. Newton: Absolutely. Unlike any previous organizing committee, they
have taken steps on behalf of the Paralympic movement that have broken new
ground in terms of the parity of the Paralympic Games with the Olympic Games.
For instance, they refer to themselves as the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic
Committee, which is extremely important, because they are two different fish
In terms of official languages, everything that has been done and everything
they do is in both official languages. The working relationship is excellent. It
is developing actually right now, as we go along, because we are still in the
formative stages and they are focussed primarily on construction right now. As
we get closer to the Games, our relationships will become more and more
intimate, until we are actually there on the ground.
Senator Comeau: Obviously, you will need volunteers? Are you in the
process of rounding up volunteers from both linguistic communities? Are the
volunteers are coming onside?
Mr. Newton: Absolutely. It is interesting. We work very closely with
the National Sport Organizations, or NSOs. We have a whole list of things we are
trying to get them to do — because of their differences. They are like different
planets; they have different capabilities. Some of them do not have a
communications division, and we are trying to get each organization to have its
own. We are trying to ensure that each organization is fluently bilingual. Once
this is done, we have a farm team of volunteers right there, because we are
developing people who are familiar with the team members within the
communications divisions of the NSOs who are also bilingual. That is essentially
our farm team.
By the time we get to 2010, it probably will not be complete, and so we will
be looking externally, as we have done in the past. Long before the Games, about
eight to 10 months prior, we do a call for volunteers, and we usually have those
posts filled six months before the Games and have the volunteers actually
working with us, going to the team orientations and doing everything in
preparation for the Games.
Senator Murray: To follow up on Senator Comeau's questions about the
cooperation between your organization, and in the case of VANOC, on the
international level, does the IPC have representatives on the IOC board, for
Mr. Newton: I am not certain of that. Yes, they must because there is
funding back and forth between the two, and there are fund-sharing agreements.
Senator Murray: The IPC is not looked upon, is it, as an offshoot?
Mr. Newton: Not at all. It is an independent organization with its own
history and charter; it has a completely different sense of purpose. We have the
social element as part of our mandate, and it is completely different.
Senator Murray: But the Games go on in the same time?
Mr. Newton: Same venue, yes. The Paralympic Games take place 10 days
after the Olympic Games, in the same venues. You have, even more exciting, I
think, blind skiers going down the downhill run, the same downhill runs as
Olympic skiers use.
Senator Murray: It is wonderful and does so much to demythologize and
demystify the whole image of what is handicapped and what is not.
Mr. Newton: Exactly. That is the beaming message of all of this. Yes,
it is exciting, and, yes, it is sport.
Senator Murray: How many countries will be represented at the
Ms. Castonguay: In Turin, there were about 40 countries.
Ms. Castonguay: This is much less than for the Summer Games.
Senator Murray: How many months?
Ms. Castonguay: One hundred and forty countries had registered in
Athens, but only between 130 and 140 countries were really represented at the
Games. There should be 40 countries at the Winter Games.
Senator Murray: And how many sports at the Paralympic Games?
Mr. Newton: How many games have you been to, Sophie?
Ms. Castonguay: Two games.
The program of the Summer Games has 19 sports whereas the program of the
Winter Games has four sports and five competitions. The cross-country skiing
competitions and the biathlon are called Nordic skiing. The five disciplines are
alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, the biathlon, sledge hockey and wheelchair
curling, that had its beginning in Turin in March 2006.
Senator Murray: How many athletes are there?
Ms. Castonguay: For the Turin team, I think that there were 35
athletes and two guides. One guide was for alpine skiing. Blind skiers ski with
a guide. We have a blind skier accompanied by his guide for alpine skiing and
cross-country skiing. Guides also receive medals.
Senator Murray: You mentioned 35 athletes from Canada. But all in all,
how many athletes are there for the 40 countries on the list?
Ms. Castonguay: About 500 athletes in all. These Games are much
smaller than the Summer Games. The main reasons for which there are fewer
athletes at the Paralympic Winter Games are that winter can create problems for
certain persons in wheelchairs who find it difficult to leave their homes or to
get to the ski slopes, there is a lack of accessibility to the club house and
the bathrooms, and the equipment is costly. These are reasons of a social
nature. Thirty-five may seem like a small figure, but sports in Canada are
beginning to develop more on a local and recreational basis.
In Quebec alone, there are now 23 ski centres with adapted equipment. Thus,
someone in a wheelchair can ski with their children and grandchildren, rent
equipment and hire a coach or a monitor.
Senator Champagne: That is what the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec
Ms. Castonguay: Precisely. She donates a lot of money for purchasing
equipment. A few years ago, only one or two alpine skiing resorts had such
equipment. Currently, there are 23 resorts in Quebec with the proper equipment.
This is a vast improvement.
Senator Murray: Among the 40 countries represented in the
competitions, do you know how many francophone countries there will be?
Ms. Castonguay: This is a good question. I know that France will be
because it has a very large team and they are very good at Nordic skiing. I am
just going by memory. I cannot really say.
Senator Murray: African countries might not come to the Winter Games.
Ms. Castonguay: That is the point.
Senator Murray: Do African countries attend the Summer Games?
Ms. Castonguay: They do.
Mr. Newton: There are a couple of issues related to that. The
Paralympic Games is still growing and differentiating. What I mean by that is
that it has learned how to set up the competition so that it is more
competitive. Also, there is the development of more sports. For instance, in
summer, rowing, which is potentially a perfect sport for a person with a
disability, could come in. In winter, bobsledding and the luge, and perhaps
snowboarding and speed skating, are all sports where there could be new
Paralympic entries. On the summer side, our team has 150 to 200 athletes,
Canadians. There are a couple of thousand athletes overall from the world.
I want to give you a sense of how it works and what the IPC does in terms of
developing the sport around the world. Developing countries, of course, have a
much more difficult time than developed countries in funding and mounting a
Exchange of equipment and expertise will be directed toward developing
nations. Africa is definitely there. With regard to your question about French,
the Summer Olympic Games will have far more francophone athletes than the Winter
Olympics. The former French colonies will be well represented.
Senator Murray: How are all these financed?
Mr. Newton: It is up to each individual nation to finance them. Some
development work is done by the IPC in terms of fostering, but the IPC is not by
any stretch of the imagination as wealthy as the international Olympic
Senator Murray: In terms of hosting the games in Vancouver, how is
Mr. Newton: It is a combination of federal, provincial and corporate
sponsorship, with lashings of money from the Olympic Committee. In other words,
they bring in a hefty amount, but they get to say how the games will be run as a
result, in terms of the management of the games.
Senator Murray: Is that of the Paralympic Games?
Mr. Newton: No, not of the Paralympic Games, of the Olympics. Remember
that the venues and the construction of Paralympic Games are the Olympic venues
Senator Murray: This is a little bit off the language issue — I will
not push it too far — but do you have relationships with other organizations and
policy-makers that represent handicapped people in this country?
Mr. Newton: Absolutely. It runs across the whole spectrum. Our
membership, generally speaking, consists of the sports organizations and the
organizations that represent people with disabilities in Canada. That is the
membership of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. It is a member-driven
organization with a board elected by that membership.
Senator Murray: Are you involved to some extent in consideration of
and recommendation concerning the policy of governments as they affect these
people and their different departments?
Mr. Newton: Yes. Our mandate crosses over health, fitness and persons
with disabilities, and all of the aspects of government that deal with those
Senator Murray: In terms of the Games themselves, and of athletes
coming from all these countries, have you experienced or do you expect to
experience any problems with the Canadian immigration authorities?
Mr. Newton: It has not been an issue that we have addressed. That is
probably more of a VANOC concern than ours because our central responsibility is
the Canadian team as opposed to actually mounting the Games.
Senator Murray: VANOC will be concerned with the athletes coming in
from other countries, not your organization in particular?
Mr. Newton: That is right.
Senator Murray: I have pushed that as far as I should. There are areas
that I would like to go into some time, but I do not think this is the occasion
or that these are the witnesses.
Mr. Newton: We would welcome talking to you at any time.
Senator Murray: I would like that. Thank you.
Senator Tardif: Besides the Canadian Paralympic Committee, there are
other national sports organizations. You said that the Canadian Paralympic
Committee was fully bilingual and that services were provided in both official
languages. Do our national sports organizations also provide services in both
official languages, and if so, which ones are they?
Mr. Newton: I am glad you asked that question, because I am engaged in
a communications strategy right now to awaken the national sports organizations
to the need to conduct this aggressive promotion of Paralympic sport. The sports
are integrated so there are communications divisions that often work hard
managing the interests that would come, say, to Hockey Canada about amateur
hockey and not aggressively promoting their Paralympic side. I probably should
not have used Hockey Canada because they do. I will not point fingers at
It is important to examine the quality of francophone communications because
I would say it is their policy to communicate to francophones, but if you dig
deeper and ask whether they produce simultaneous press releases you will be
getting at some issues on which I should like to see them improve their output.
As anyone who deals with the media knows, a news release presented two days
after the news is not worth the paper on which it is written. If the French copy
is coming out two days after the news because of translation problems or a lack
of capability, then you have a difficulty on the French side.
Senator Tardif: This confirms my thoughts about certain national
sports organizations that do not provide services in both official languages,
especially when it comes to communication. Are there people who could work with
Mr. Newton: It would vary completely by the organization. As I said,
they are very different cultures, with different histories and levels of
funding. Some are richer than others.
Senator Tardif: Thus, there could be great differences between
national sports organizations with regard to their commitment to bilingualism,
even if they are headed by the fully bilingual Canadian Paralympic Committee?
Mr. Newton: That is right. To understand our relationship with the
national sports organizations, they have responsibility for the development of
the team within the individual area of the sport. We have very little to do with
them other than persuasion or influence. We do not have direct leverage to
influence them. We are the owners of the team in strict terms only for the two
weeks of the games. In other words, we assemble the team, equip them, transport
them and stage their performance at the games. The national sports organizations
are the ones who conduct the World Cups and all of the events that go on between
the games. There is a separation there. We must work in a cooperative fashion
Another element — and this is in terms of their funding — is that they often
have different sponsors. We have to go through careful negotiations in terms of
visibility of those organizations so that there are no sponsorship conflicts in
terms of promoting them. In other words, we are often between the Games having
to stand in the shadows while Alpine Canada or Athletics Canada comes to the
fore with a completely different set of sponsors, because if we are seen there
our sponsors will conflict with theirs. That is the reality of the situation in
terms of how much influence we can have.
Senator Tardif: For instance, would the sponsors not necessarily
demand that signs be posted in both official languages?
Mr. Newton: Not necessarily — some of them would; some of them would
not. I am not certain about looking across the field. Certainly, our sponsors
demand and appreciate the fact that everything we do is in both official
Senator Tardif: This is not the case for national sports organizations
that hold competitions at both the national and international levels.
Ms. Castonguay: Every federation and every organization has a
different policy regarding bilingualism. If they had a written official
languages policy, this might motivate them to offer more services in both
Senator Tardif: I have noticed that there is a policy for handicapped
athletes in 2006, but this policy says nothing about official language
requirements. This is unfortunate.
The Chairman: I have a comment about Senator Tardif's last question.
Sponsors are important because they contribute large sums of money that the
athletes need for participating in the Games. Therefore, if a sponsor only
advertises in English, there is no problem. If we had a big sponsor from Quebec,
would that sponsor be able to advertise only in French? Is it up to the sponsor
to decide, or does the policy apply in different ways?
Mr. Newton: That is a good question because our policy, of course, is
officially in both official languages; however, we have sponsors who are
national with the Quebec branch. For instance, Rona is one of our sponsors, and
they have Rona in Quebec and the rest of Canada with their own marketing
We do not have much influence at all over how the sponsors market themselves.
It is their decision entirely. The involvement we have in that would be to
coordinate the involvement of athletes or offer suggestions on how to present
Paralympic sport to get the best benefits out of it. In terms of their decisions
about their marketing programs, we are not asked nor are we part of it.
The Chairman: I want to thank you both. You answered our questions
very well and I, for one, learned many things today, not necessarily what I
would have liked to hear, but those are the facts.
Mr. Newton: It is our pleasure. Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Let us suspend the meeting for a few minutes and then we
will continue our work in camera.