A unilingual French-speaking Bloc MP considers his linguistic rights violated and blames the Conservatives when interpreters stop translating the deliberations of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources where he sits due to the cacophony that constantly occurs there , in English it goes without saying.
“Many Conservative MPs speak over each other, which means that at that point, for French speakers, there is no longer any interpretation. […] It intervenes a little against our (parliamentary) privileges,” declared MP Mario Simard on Monday when The Canadian Press challenged him on the subject.
Mr. Simard, who is the Bloc critic for natural resources, raised the issue during discussions last week while the Conservatives had a spat with the chair of the committee, Alberta Liberal George Chahal.
Mr. Chahal had then just rendered a decision in which he ruled that “disorder in committee does not constitute as such a health and safety issue” for the interpreters, but that when this occurs “there will be interruption of the service “.
In his decision, the president affirmed that he would be “vigilant” to ensure that interpretation was available in order to allow “equal and fair” participation for all members of the committee “in accordance with the Official Languages Act and the Constitution “. Mr. Chahal therefore reminded elected officials that they are prohibited from speaking before he gives it to them.
It was enough for the points of order to come flying, starting with the Alberta Conservative Garnett Genuis who accused him of having misled the committee by previously invoking health and safety risks while painfully trying to maintain order and calm the ardor of elected officials.
“And although conservative members regularly attempt to correct your misinformation, you doubled down on your assertion that having multiple open mics constituted a health and safety risk, which was clearly not the case, did he declare. It would be more appropriate for you to apologize to the committee. »
Mr. Simard replied that this amounts to saying: “please allow us to remain disgraceful, because it does not harm the performers.”
The statement ignited the excitement in the room. “That’s not (what) I said,” MP Genuis said in French a few times.
Another Conservative, Saskatchewan’s Jeremy Patzer, tried to justify that it is “extremely important to note” that elected officials do not turn on their microphones when they exchange “jokes” while others are speaking, which which is “not abusive or offensive to the performers”.
During his speech, some of his colleagues deemed it appropriate to comment on his remarks on multiple occasions, which led the president to remind everyone of “the statement I just made.”
NDP MP Charlie Angus, for his part, judged that it is “an abusive tactic” to “have several people speaking at the same time on the microphone” and that the Conservatives’ objections only aim to “denigrate” the president. of the committee.
” It’s that simple “
Mr. Simard argued that the Conservatives would hear “nothing” if French-speaking MPs spoke at the same time because “the people who are on the other side of the glass over there, who are doing translation, they cannot not translate simultaneously ten people who open their microphone.
“The Conservative Party does not understand a basic principle, which is that […] everyone must have access to what is being said. So the main issue is the fact that you open all your microphones at the same time while speaking at the same time and I don’t understand anything at that moment. It’s that simple,” he said.
In an interview on Monday, at the end of a committee which turned out to be much calmer than the previous ones, Mr. Simard expressed regret that the Conservatives were invoking the rules and practically demanding “the right to obstruct and cause heckling.” » without being asked to stop this practice.
According to him, this ruckus is “a pretext” to slow down the work of the committee. This is because the Conservatives have undertaken parliamentary obstruction tactics which have resulted in completely paralyzing the committee since October 30.
“For about twenty hours, our main topic of conversation has been knowing whose turn it is to speak,” summarized Mr. Simard. This is nothing to reduce the cynicism of the population regarding the work of politicians. Quite frankly, if I asked someone I know to listen to what I do during my days in committee, I am convinced that they would be very discouraged. »
The Canadian Press was unable to trace the thread of the discussions beyond last Wednesday given that the broadcast system of the debates of the House of Commons is struggling to manage the video of this meeting which has only been suspended without being adjourned for a month .