Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 37

Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool Speaker pro tempore

Official Languages

Bilingual Signage at 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I would like to ask a supplementary question on what the Commissioner of Official Languages has expressed regarding the ability of the Vancouver Organizing Committee to ensure the presence of both official languages at the 2010 Olympics. In particular, the commissioner has noted that the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s challenge is in providing fully bilingual services such as signage and transportation.

The commissioner has also released a report stating that Canada will hold a successful Olympic Games in 2010 only if the federal government, along with its partners, ensures that linguistic duality is promoted.

My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. How will the Canadian government act on these recommendations in the commissioner’s report to ensure that Canada’s bilingualism commitments are fulfilled? Can the Leader of the Government assure us that the government will take action to ensure that the Olympic Games will be in both official languages, French and English?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, we dealt with this issue in the Senate a few weeks ago.

The government is mindful of the report of the Official Languages Commissioner and his concern in this area. I wish to assure the honourable senator and all honourable senators that Treasury Board officials are working closely with the Olympic and Paralympic Games secretariat within Canadian Heritage to remind institutions of their absolute obligation to provide services in both official languages during both the Olympics and the Paralympic Games.

Senator Jaffer: The minister has kindly offered to obtain the details and provide them to us. I await the details.

As part of her commitment, may I request that the leader ensure that the unilingual sign of the Richmond Olympic Oval will be changed to become a bilingual sign shortly?

Senator LeBreton: I am not absolutely sure about this, honourable senators, but I think there is a handover at some point from the City of Richmond to the Olympic officials. It is clear that, when this happens, all signage should be in both of Canada’s official languages.