Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 69

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Study on Application of Official Languages Act and Relevant Regulations, Directives and Reports

Fourth Report of Official Languages Committee and Request for Government Response—Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Chaput, seconded by the Honourable Senator Hubley, that the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, entitled Reflecting Canada’s Linguistic Duality at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games: A Golden Opportunity, Follow-up Report, tabled in the Senate on September 15, 2009, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada being identified as ministers responsible for responding to the report.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: It is my pleasure to talk about the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages’ report entitled Reflecting Canada’s Linguistic Duality at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games: A Golden Opportunity. As honourable senators are aware, my province, British Columbia, will host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

[English]

First, I would like to recognize the work done by Jack Poole, who, until recently, headed the Vancouver Organizing Committee, VANOC, for the 2010 Games, and, unfortunately, passed away due to illness.

Mr. Poole knew the stakes here high with staging the Olympics. Heading the Olympic Games was a massive undertaking not only for him but also for the province and the country. He said to the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, that if we do not deliver a win, we will take a tremendous hit because the government is giving us everything we are asking for.

Mr. Poole has gone to another place knowing there will be very successful games in Vancouver due to his hard work. He was truly a visionary and gave a lot of himself to all Canadians. I want to thank his wife and five children for sharing him with us all to the very end.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize the former Prime Minister, Mr. Jean Chrétien, and the former Premier of B.C., Mr. Glen Clark, for their vision to apply to have the Olympic Games come to British Columbia.

I would also like to recognize the work that Premier Gordon Campbell has done with his vision of strong success for support of the Olympic Games. The other person who should be mentioned today, as she has worked hard on behalf of all of us, is Senator Raine, who has worked with the Olympic committee and has raised awareness of the games.

[Translation]

As a senator from British Columbia, I have the honour of representing the host province of the Olympic Games. This is a highly anticipated event not only by the people of our province, but by all Canadians. These are not just Vancouver’s Olympic Games; they are Canada’s Olympic Games.

I am proud of the progress made in the preparations for these Games. We are ready to welcome everyone. I cannot tell you how gratifying that is. I invite you all to come see these Olympic Games and I want to extend a warm welcome to all senators. We — my colleagues Senator St. Germain, Senator Campbell, Senator Neufeld, Senator Martin, Senator Raine and I — await your arrival with open arms. I can hardly wait for the athletes and their families to arrive. All those who come will receive a warm welcome.

Honourable senators, as you know, British Columbia is a multicultural province. I am proud of how many people in my province speak French. During the Games, visitors will discover the image, the wealth and the diversity of our province. I can tell you that we are almost ready to welcome the world.

I look forward to that day. I can already imagine how pleased people will be to be welcomed in their own language. I can already imagine how pleased the people of British Columbia will be to welcome the entire world. The 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a golden opportunity for Canada to promote its linguistic duality here and abroad.

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The permanent presence of both languages during the 2010 Olympic Games ought to perfectly reflect our linguistic duality. It is necessary to ensure that everything is done before the Games. Throughout its appearances, VANOC, the organizing committee, has shown its willingness to improve its preparation process for the Olympic Games.

Do we have more and more communities that speak both of Canada’s languages, French and English? Did we promise to support the Olympic Games organizers? Do we want our guests to go home convinced that Canada is truly a bilingual country?

I dream, idealistically, of the almost perfect image in its various forms. It would all begin with bilingual advertising in every form: vignettes and audiovisual ads, flyers, posters, and so on. In addition to that type of advertising it would be possible to find bilingual information on the websites of the institutions involved.

Everyone knows that most people visiting Vancouver, whether the athletes and their families, political or sports personalities, or regular visitors, will travel by plane to get there and therefore the announcements at the airport and on the plane — I am talking about Canadian airline companies — would be made in both official languages of Canada and the International Olympic Committee.

Vancouver’s public transit would also have at least a partially bilingual staff. Hotels play an important role in the well-being of our visitors. The qualifications of the staff and their level of bilingualism are essential. The televised broadcast of the Games in English and French is also a high priority. All signage at the sporting events also reflects our country’s linguistic duality. When the new arrivals travel around, regardless of the mode of transportation, they have to be able to read either of the official languages, which is why bilingual signage is so important.

Being welcomed in English and French at the Olympic Games sites will please everyone who is looking forward to attending the events. Recruiting temporary bilingual staff and volunteers is a decisive factor in that regard. The francophone community, francophiles, and other communities that speak French play an important role.

I have no doubt that the opening and closing ceremonies will take place in the two official languages of Canada and the International Olympic Committee. The athletes have worked very hard for years and years to amaze us with their performances. Do they not deserve bilingual commentary?

I am absolutely certain that our athletes will win medals during these Games. We should demonstrate our appreciation for their efforts in both official languages.

After drinking in the athletic performances, visitors will look for the same bilingual road signs on their way back to their hotels. That is my dream of how the Games will unfold in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

To help make this Canadian dream come true, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages released a report entitled Raising our Game for Vancouver 2010: Towards a Canadian Model of Linguistic Duality in International Sport — A follow-up in September. It contained several recommendations that I would like to review even though my colleagues, Senators Tardif and Chaput, talked about them recently.

Some issues still need to be addressed. The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages’ fourth recommendation called for Canada’s linguistic duality to be reflected on official Games websites. I want to point out that the parties involved, the front-line organizations involved, still do not have bilingual websites.

What are people waiting for? The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages and the Commissioner of Official Languages both issued recommendations that raised the issue of bilingual volunteers at the airport in Richmond, B.C.

Another important issue is signage at venues. Unfortunately, there is no French in sight at the Richmond Oval.

The countdown is on. We do not have two years or one year or even five months to go. We are barely 100 days away from the opening ceremonies. The report I mentioned earlier recommended that the Privy Council Office ensure the full and immediate participation of all municipal, provincial and federal institutions. The Privy Council office must not wait any longer; it must make recommendations swiftly.

All aspects of organization, before, during and after the Olympic Games, whether it is advertising, modes of transportation, hotel and motel services, greetings or translation and interpretation, for the Games themselves and the ceremonies, everything must be done in the official languages and, why not, in other official languages as well.

I personally work hard to put an end to the trafficking of women and children. Unfortunately, during large sporting events, especially international ones like the Olympic Games that we are talking about now, human trafficking is inevitable. Nevertheless, I would like every measure to be taken to prevent trafficking as much as possible. It is absolutely necessary that we demand a zero-tolerance approach yet again.

I thank you, honourable senators, for helping to make the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games a success, and I would like to acknowledge all the parties involved, including John Furlong and, VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games; James Moore, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages; Senator Chaput, Senator Champagne and the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages; Graham Fraser, the Commissioner of Official Languages; the mayor and city councillors of Vancouver, Richmond, Whistler and all the other municipalities and organizations involved in the success of our Olympic Games, British Columbia’s Olympic Games, and especially Canada’s Olympic Games, representing our bilingual and very diverse country.

I would like to share with you a quick story about my family. I am proud that my children speak French fluently. Now, my grandson Ian, who is three years old, is starting to speak French.

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Now he says that I have three names: Daiyma, my name in our mother tongue, Grandma, my English name, and Grand-mère, my French name. My grandson says he is very proud that his grandmother has three names.

Honourable senators, come February, when you arrive in Vancouver, I am sure that my grandson and all British Columbians will say, “Welcome to the Olympic Games” and also, “Bienvenue aux Jeux Olympiques”. They will be ready to welcome all Canadians and visitors from around the world to their province.

 

 

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