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QUESTION PERIOD — Privy Council Office

Governor-in-Council Appointments

May 19, 2022

My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. I want to revisit your answer to my question yesterday about the place of francophones in the senior ranks of the public service.

In 1962, the president of CN, Donald Gordon, justified the absence of francophones among the 17 vice-presidents of the company he led by stating that they did not necessarily have the skills required to fill these positions. That statement came to epitomize the contempt some anglophones have for francophones, who supposedly are simply not sufficiently qualified.

Senator Gold, your answer yesterday was strangely reminiscent of Mr. Gordon’s in 1962. Do you maintain that your government appoints unilingual anglophones to positions that require bilingualism because there are no francophones competent enough to fill those positions? Are you the Donald Gordon of 2022?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

I thank the honourable senator for the question. The temperature rises every time you ask me a question.

No, I am not the Donald Gordon of 2022. Donald Gordon’s response comes from a bygone era, fortunately. I will not repeat the response I gave you yesterday. However, I would like to note that the Government of Canada is committed to continuing to ensure that the promotion of French-speaking officials or other leaders is a priority for the government.

You seem to be looking for mandates to give to the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages. Would you be amenable to letting the Official Languages Committee investigate why the Privy Council Office is incapable of finding bilingual people for senior management positions or for lieutenant-governor positions?

Senator Gold [ + ]

Our committees are well known for conducting studies, not investigations. I may have misunderstood your question. The committee and the Senate are responsible for the committee mandates. I will wait for such a motion to be tabled in the Senate before deciding how I will vote, but I am sure that the committee, which has done good work in the past, will continue to do so in an open and non-partisan spirit, as the Senate must do.

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