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QUESTION PERIOD — Canadian Heritage

Translation of Documents

February 8, 2024

Leader, as you know, the work of the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency is currently on hold because a large quantity of documents that were submitted to the Rouleau Commission have not been translated.

This week, on February 6, 2024, Minister Boissonnault said, about the absence of translation of thousands of documents produced at the Rouleau Commission, that the government had learned its lesson and that it would “do better.”

By “do better,” does the government mean it will commit to having all the documents produced at the Hogue Commission made available in both official languages?

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

Thank you for the question, senator.

It is important to be able to access all documents in both official languages. That being said, I don’t have the numbers on hand, so I’m rifling through my files a bit. As for the documents that you mentioned, there are about 200,000 that were submitted, and it was really impossible to have them all translated.

We will continue to work hard to do better, as you mentioned. The report itself was long and it was translated properly in both official languages, but one has to recognize the practical challenge that is posed when we cannot control the volume of documents that are submitted to a committee or as part of an investigation.

Leader, I heard you use the word “important,” but I would take that a step further and say that it is not just important; it is constitutional. It is a constitutional obligation. Are you trying to tell us that the government is unable to respect our constitutional rights, particularly those of all the francophones in this country?

Senator Gold [ - ]

That’s not what I said. I was being honest in recognizing the challenge we’re facing. It is not over and the government commits to doing better.

You know me, senator. You know that I care about our two official languages and the importance they hold for our national identity, but facts are facts, and I don’t want to hide behind that.

This didn’t happen because we don’t respect the Constitution. The work isn’t finished yet, and the government commits to doing better.

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