Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 5 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Monday, April 27 2009
The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages met this day, at 4:31 p.m., to study the application of the Official Languages Act and of the regulations and directives made under it, within those institutions subject to the act.
Senator Maria Chaput (Chair) took the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, I see we have a quorum, so I will therefore call this meeting to order. Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages. I am Senator Maria Chaput, from Manitoba, and I chair this committee.
Allow me to introduce you to the members of the committee in attendance today: Senator Comeau from Nova Scotia, Senator Champagne from Quebec, who is also Vice-Chair of the committee and Senator Fortin-Duple sis from Quebec. To my far right is Senator Lozier-Cool from New Brunswick, Senator Goldstein from Quebec, Senator Tardif from Alberta, and Senator Jaffer from British Columbia.
Today we are welcoming key organizations involved in organizing the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Vancouver and Whistler. Reflecting linguistic duality in Canada is an important issue for this committee. Today's meeting will be divided into two parts; from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., representatives from the Department of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages will testify; and from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., we will hold a roundtable with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, and the Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue.
We will now hear from representatives from the Department of Canadian Heritage: Ms. Marie-Geneviève Mounier, Assistant Deputy Minister, International and Intergovernmental Affairs and Sports; as well as Mr. David Robinson, Director General of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Federal Secretariat, and Mr. Claude Doucette, Director, Legislative, Industry and Citizen Engagement Policy.
Ladies and gentlemen, the committee thanks you for having accepted our invitation to appear today, and I will now turn the floor over to you.
Marie-Geneviève Mounier, Assistant Deputy Minister, International and Intergovernmental Affairs and Sports, Canadian Heritage: Madam Chair, allow me to thank you for your invitation today. Over the course of my career, I have worked in various sectors both in Canada and abroad, and our country's linguistic duality has always been dear to my heart as one of our national treasures. As you undoubtedly know, I appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages last month. I took careful note of the concerns expressed by the members of this committee with regard to the bilingual character of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
I know that for a long time, your committee has been following official languages issues in the context of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Organization of the Games is consistently evolving, and the media, the Commissioner of Official Languages, the House Committee on Official Languages, as well as your committee, are closely monitoring readiness for the Games with regard to the official languages.
The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Federal Secretariat appreciates this attention. It enables the Secretariat to strengthen its vigilance and helps guide its actions towards the organizing committee.
The Official Languages Advisory Committee met for the very first time in Vancouver last Friday. As a member of this committee, the Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, Judith LaRocque, reiterated the commitment of the Government of Canada concerning respect of our two official languages in the context of the 2010 Games.
This committee was created by VANOC for the purpose of carrying out the recommendations presented last December by the Commissioner of Official Languages. Thanks to the leadership and expertise of its members, this committee will assist the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games — VANOC — in making this international event a truly bilingual celebration.
This committee is adding to government initiatives in this area through the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games Winter Games Federal Secretariat.
The secretariat is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage and provides leadership, advice and coordinating functions on behalf of the Government of Canada. It acts as a guide, a facilitator for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Winter Paralympic Games, VANOC.
From the time Vancouver submitted its bid to host the 2010 Winter Games, promoting our two official languages has been part of the commitment made in support of this bid, in concert with the Official Languages Act.
In 2002, the Government of Canada, the organizing committee and its main partners signed a multi-party agreement. This agreement confirmed the commitment to emphasize Canada's linguistic duality during the Games.
This is the very first time in the history of the Olympic Games that a country has included measures on obligations pertaining to respect of official languages in this type of agreement. I think we can be proud of this progress.
We are making sure that VANOC respects its commitments to official languages in a number of ways. First, the federal secretariat has a team dedicated specifically to official languages. The organizing committee also has an official languages unit. The two groups are in constant contact to ensure that we continue to move forward with regard to bilingualism.
The discussions between the two groups contributed in ensuring that the recruitment of volunteers for the games be open to francophones from across Canada. Around 11,000 volunteers who stated that they could express themselves in French have been recruited as potential candidates. The recruitment tour has made stops in Montreal and Ottawa over the last two weeks. VANOC will ensure that all volunteers who are in contact with the public can express themselves in both official languages.
The federal government has also made efforts to ensure not only that French and English have their place while the Games are being held, but also beforehand, during the Torch Relay. The Torch Relay will enable hundreds of English- and French-speaking communities to participate.
The federal secretariat is also working with the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Treasury Board Secretariat to remind federal organizations and signatories of the multi-party agreement of their obligations towards official languages. We want to ensure, for example, that visitors and athletes will be welcome in the official language of their choice when they travel to the games.
In addition to working with the federal government to establish measures fostering the promotion of our linguistic duality, VANOC is working closely with the Canadian Federation for Cross Cultural Dialogue and the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique. These two organizations will represent Canadian francophonie for the Games. Canadian Heritage has provided funding to these organizations to help them to fulfill their role in coordinating the participation of francophone communities.
I want to assure you that, from now until the end of the Games, the Department of Canadian Heritage will continue to support VANOC in its efforts to promote both of our official languages. Tremendous progress has been made. But there is still a long way to go, and a great deal of work remains to be done. We intend to continue monitoring the situation closely.
I can assure you in particular that the Department of Canadian Heritage is determined to see that the cultural events surrounding the Games, as well as the opening ceremony, highlight our country's linguistic duality and our rich cultural heritage.
This objective and the measures require to achieve it were clearly communicated to VANOC. They are part of the terms and conditions for funding provided by the government for these activities. Canadian Heritage will take appropriate steps to see that VANOC meets the objectives stated in the contribution agreements.
As you know, English and French are the two official languages of the International Olympic Committee. This makes our efforts to highlight these two languages at the Games all the more relevant.
The Government of Canada is aiming at nothing less than Games that are exemplary in terms of official languages. We are fully aware of this objective and truly committed to respecting it so that the 2010 Winter Games are truly Canada's Games.
My colleagues and I are at your disposal to answer your questions.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I hope the information that I have is reliable, Madam Deputy Minister. Despite the fact that Canada is an officially bilingual country, and the Olympic Games must also be held in French, the host city of the Olympic Games, Vancouver, British Columbia, publishes tourist information in Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and German, but not a word in French. I hope that this has changed in recent days.
In fact, there is no French version of Tourism BC's official website, a reference for athletes and tourist who will be travelling to the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010. I hope this oversight has been rectified. Do you believe that the federal government, which has already spent $26 million on a strategy to promote tourism during the Olympic Games, should intervene directly with the organization so that the website is also available in French?
Ms. Mounier: Thank you for your question. First, I wish to point out, as did the Official Languages Commissioner, that Tourism BC is a provincial agency, funded by the province of British Columbia, and therefore is not subject to any of the obligations arising from the Official Languages Act.
That being said, we certainly believe that Tourism BC should do everything it possibly can to make information available in French, so that the same information is made available to francophone Canadians and to visitors from French speaking countries who are involved in the Olympic Games.
This issue falls within the mandate of the Department of Industry, and I know that colleagues at the Industry Department are fully aware of the situation. Your information is accurate, and the site still contains references to exclusively anglophone sites.
Senator Tardif: If I understand correctly, the website destination2010.ca was commissioned by the Canadian Tourism Commission. The CTC is subject to the Official Languages Act.
I do not think this issue involves only the provincial governments. The federal government and Canadian Heritage have an obligation to see that the funds allocated are used to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act.
Ms. Mounier: I must state from the outset that this issue does not fall within our mandate, although we have had discussions with our colleagues on all aspects of the Games. The website of the Canadian Tourism Commission is bilingual, while the website of Tourism BC is not. The latter website targets international media and information available on the CTC's website is in both official languages. The destination2010.ca website is a combination of different websites. So there is Tourism BC, Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Whistler, Richmond Tourism, as well as the website of the Canadian Tourism Commission.
Senator Tardif: Are you saying that destination2010 is not the official website of the Games?
Ms. Mounier: I will refer those questions to my colleagues from the Department of Industry, because unfortunately this do not fall within my mandate. I am not certain of the reasons that led the CTC to merge its website with other BC websites.
Senator Tardif: But do you not think that the Canadian Tourism Commission should comply with the Official Languages Act, since they receive federal funds?
Ms. Mounier: The Canadian Tourism Commission does comply with the act; its website is fully bilingual.
Senator Tardif: But the CTC awarded a subcontract to destination2010.ca. Correct?
Ms. Mounier: Unfortunately, this matter does not fall within my mandate.
Senator Tardif: And the links are not bilingual.
The Chair: If you cannot answer, who could we put the questions to in order to get an answer, Madam Deputy Minister?
Ms. Mounier: I will check with my colleagues from the Department of Industry and I will pass along to the committee clerk the names of people who could answer that question more clearly for you.
The Chair: Could you send us a written response?
Ms. Mounier: Through the Department of Industry? We will certainly have them follow up on your request.
Senator Goldstein: What should we do, or what can we do to make sure that the links are also bilingual? Or, if the links do not lead to a bilingual site, should they not be mentioned at all?
David M. Robinson, Director General, 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Federal Secretariat, Canadian Heritage: The Olympic and Paralympic Games are an enormous undertaking that require an enormous number of partners, both on the federal and provincial level. Almost everything that is done is a partnership project, and I think that is what you are seeing in the case of the tourism ``destination'' website for international media. This project is a partnership where funds have been cobbled together from a number of different agencies to present a common face of Canada so there are not four different stories being told. A single story is being told, with a contribution by the Canadian Tourism Commission.
One of the things in our system, in the way we work, is that the Department of Canadian Heritage is acting as a coordinator of federal departments, so we work closely with the Canadian Tourism Commission on all aspects of Vancouver 2010.
As Ms. Mournier stated, the policy responsibility for tourism belongs to Industry Canada, and we must respect that.
Senator Goldstein: I do not think anybody wants to point fingers, especially not at you; you are doing your best.
On the other hand, I do not think anyone around this table is ready to accept the proposition that, because there is a multiplicity of intervenors, there may be partial, and not total, respect for the bilingualism of this country in an event that is the face of this country. Many of us around the table — maybe all of us — feel strongly about that point.
My question is, again, what can or should we do to ensure that principle of bilingualism is respected? Speaking for myself, bilingualism is a fundamental principle of Canada.
Mr. Robinson: I suggest you make your views known to the Government of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver and the resort municipality at Whistler and their tourism marketing boards, as we have done.
Senator Goldstein: I will be in Vancouver on Friday. Whom can I see and what can I do to make bilingualism happen?
Could you help me, Ms. Mounier?
Ms. Mounier: You will be in Vancouver next week? We will be speaking to our colleagues from the Industry department to identify the best people.
Senator Goldstein: Who could tell me what I can do to ensure that the fundamental principle is respected?
Ms. Mounier: I will get back to you on that question.
The Chair: Could you pass along to the clerk the names of the stakeholders we could meet with?
Ms. Mounier: Yes.
Senator Goldstein: Could I get these names before Thursday?
Ms. Mounier: Yes.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Despite the promise made to the francophone community, VANOC forgot to invite francophone artists to an official event in February 2009.
I must tell you, as a French-speaking Quebecer, how hurt and offended I was by this slight. It was absolutely unacceptable. Especially when you consider that the eyes of the entire world will be focused on Canada. Judging from your opening remarks, you are full of good will. We really need to be sure that francophones and anglophones are treated equally during the Games. I believe that the February incident proves that there is still a lot to be done.
Can you explain this oversight by VANOC? What is VANOC doing to ensure that artists from French speaking regions of Canada have an opportunity to showcase their talent?
Ms. Mounier: First, the 2010 Federal Secretariat, Canadian Heritage, and the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, as well as the Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue made their expectations known to VANOC before the show was held. VANOC had arranged for a francophone presence throughout the event, opting for a bilingual master of ceremonies and scheduling a dance number directed by a famous francophone choreographer. Also on the program was a dance number and a musical piece interpreted by a francophone musician. Luc Doucet also sang several songs in French.
Was there enough francophone content? We believe the answer is no. We learned from this experience. We have contribution agreements for the cultural Olympiads of 2010. We have made sure to include in that very agreement the same provisions that can be found in Annex A of the multiparty agreement to strengthen the requirements for francophone representation. Our colleagues who are working on this file within Canadian Heritage are in very close contact with members of VANOC to ensure that this situation does not happen again. We saw the negative backlash in the media, and want to avoid a repeat of this situation.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you very much for coming here today. I come from British Columbia, and my worst fear is that we will let the rest of Canada down by not portraying official languages the way it should be portrayed. I want my colleagues to know that the British Columbia government has a minister responsible for francophone affairs. You cannot say only, it is British Columbia. French does matter. There are 300,000 British Columbians who speak French, and many British Columbians send their children to French immersion. It is an important issue in my province. After the games when I come back to this table. I want to be able to look at my colleagues and say, we did not let you down.
I am sorry that I do not have your opening remarks, so I may not have these words exactly right, but I want your help. As you know, around here we believe that the games need to be truly bilingual. Clarify for me the question: What kind of leadership will you provide so that the games are truly officially bilingual? You said you would provide leadership, guidance and facilitating. What does that mean?
Ms. Mounier: That is the work we do with the federal secretariat. I will let David explain all the mechanisms we have to ensure that our colleagues, all federal departments and partners, live up to the official languages obligations.
Mr. Robinson: I have been working on the 2010 games since 2001, even before Canada, through the bid corporation, submitted its bid to the IOC for hosting the Games. We, at Canadian Heritage, knew that if the Games were hosted in British Columbia — in Vancouver and Whistler — the games organizing committee would have an extraordinary challenge in presenting itself in French and English, as is required by our federal hosting policy. We are not able to provide funds to a major multinational sporting event unless the event is presented in French and English.
Right from the first instance, working with the bid corporation, which existed before the games organizing committee, we made sure that the committee understood that they had a special responsibility and challenge. In exchange for federal support, whether for infrastructure dollars or for central federal services, organizers were obligated to present themselves in French and English. At the core, in the beginning, and working with our other government partners, we negotiated the multi-party agreement. As I mentioned previously these games are very much a partnership project. That multi-party agreement is meant to, and designed to, apply specifically to the games organizing committee. In the multi-party agreement, the organizing committee did not exist in that day. The committee eventually became known as VANOC. We articulated in some detail exactly what we meant for the games organizing committee: What is involved in presenting yourself to the general public in French and English? We wanted to work with them because we knew it would be a special challenge. It would be challenging for them.
We worked with their senior leadership, their executive and with their president, John Furlong, right from the first minute that the organizing committee was struck after the games were awarded in 2003. They have taken their responsibilities seriously and have built an organization that has incorporated French language services into its heart. They did the right thing by giving the responsibility for official languages services to the vice-president of human resources so that for all hiring decisions made by that the games organizing committee, there would be an official languages filter on it.
We support VANOC in its work. In my organization, I have a small group that is dedicated to providing advice to VANOC on questions of official languages. We work closely with the Commissioner of Official Languages. It is iterative. It is a collaboration. We have an ability to be more muscular if we need to be, but because we are working with friends, essentially, we will work on this project together and ensure that we flag issues and bring things to VANOC's attention when we feel they need to pay attention. That is true whether at the working level with the people who are in the VANOC official languages offices, or their executive vice-president, their president or their board of directors, if necessary. We have that ability.
Senator Jaffer: Mr. Robinson, I know of your work. I know how hard you work, but I have a real knot in my stomach when I hear what you are saying now.
If you are a British Columbian, you know that when the games were announced — Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Campbell announced the games on TV — every British Columbian knew we were awarded the games because we said we have two languages, French and English — those are the official languages of the games — we are multicultural and we have a strong native culture. All those things need to be represented, but in my book, the official languages absolutely must be there. When you all speak about partnerships, it gives me concern.
For example, Whistler has it right. They have signs in both official languages. Vancouver does not. Richmond, where people will land, does not. I am concerned. I hope you will not answer me by saying, it is a partnership and we have to work with them. We know recently we all celebrated the opening of the Richmond Olympic Oval. It is in one language only. How can that be? As people land, they will see only one language in that oval.
Where is your facilitation? Where is your guidance? Where is your leadership?
Mr. Robinson: You have a great opportunity in a few minutes to speak to VANOC directly. People from VANOC will be here at the table.
Senator Jaffer: However, you are their leaders.
Mr. Robinson: I will answer your question, but it is their responsibility.
Senator Jaffer: You are in a leadership role. I will not let them go free, trust me.
Mr. Robinson: Good, because that helps us, as Ms. Mounier said. We have a contract, and we are not at games time yet. At games time, VANOC must present itself in French and English, including way-finding and signage. All signage everywhere must be bilingual, and it will be. If they have to take down signs on the Richmond Oval and put up bilingual signage, that is what VANOC will do because they have committed to us that they will.
Senator Jaffer: I am happy to hear that. Now I can breathe and maybe ask my question more quietly. You understand my point; thank you.
My concern is that when VANOC made the application, it made representations 170 times that it was controlled by the Government of Canada at the trademark office. Therefore, when you suggest that I should ask VANOC, I do not want the dance. We all know there is a gap in the translation money. I asked the minister and now I have a written response. I asked the minister about the gap in the translation money, and in the answer I received today, the department said that Canadian Heritage has not received a written request from VANOC for additional funds for translation. I will ask VANOC to write the letter while they are sitting here because obviously writing a letter is easy to do, right?
The second issue that concerns me is the recent cuts in Radio-Canada and other broadcasting.
Will these games be broadcast all across Canada? Will Canadians know about these games in both official languages, not only during the games but also before the games?
Ms. Mounier: Broadcasting is something that has been front and centre in our minds, and we have discussed it for a long time. The broadcasting rights stay with the International Olympic Committee, and they make an agreement with CTVglobemedia, which is a private company, so there is not much chance for the government to intervene in a private contract.
We have had discussions with the representatives of the consortium to voice our concerns about their francophone coverage. We wanted to ensure that a majority of francophones outside Quebec would be able to see the games and live this fabulous experience.
We had various discussions, and a few weeks ago we had the consortium come a meeting of deputy ministers representing all the departments that are in charge of the games or in charge of delivering essential federal services, and they made a dynamic presentation to us. They have now taken steps to negotiate with cable and satellite distributors. They will give free access to the channels delivering the games in French. We are talking about Télévision Quatre Saisons, Le Réseau des Sports, Le Réseau Info-Sports and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, APTN, that will broadcast part of its programming in French.
These signals will be free access for cable and satellite distributors for a period of about three months, including the time period of the games. With that access, they are confident they will have more than the 95 per cent coverage across Canada that the International Olympic Committee's requires.
Senator Tardif: The Senate has completed two studies, and published two reports that include recommendations to the government to guarantee the bilingual character of the Olympic Games. The Commissioner of the Official Languages has done the same. Despite all of this work and interest, deficiencies are still ongoing today. The government and its agencies, Canadian Heritage, and Sport Canada, have the responsibility of taking on a leadership role and ensuring that the bilingual character of the Olympic Games is respected.
Why is the message not getting through? What must we do? Despite the studies and recommendations that we just mentioned, there are still gaps to be filled. We cannot find anything in French on the Internet site, for events or shows. There is not even the slightest presence of French. The translation and the interpretation are missing from this attempt to broadcast the Games in French and to make them accessible to all the citizens who want to watch them in French. These are just a few examples; I have not even mentioned signage or the hotel industry. There are many other examples.
You said that we should get in touch with Industry Canada, but does Heritage Canada not have an interdepartmental role to play? Is it not up to Heritage Canada to play this leadership role? Could you not send out clearer messages? I do not know what more we can do to make sure that the bilingual character of these games is respected.
Ms. Mounier: Heritage Canada certainly has a coordinating and advisory role to play because the Official Languages Act applies to all federal institutions. Heritage Canada is accountable for the way in which these institutions meet their obligations with regard to official languages. For example, the Secretariat together with Treasury Board and the Official Languages commissioner recently began a round of visits to various federal institutions that are directly involved in the delivery of essential services during the Games to make sure that the departments have a clear understanding of their obligations with regard to official languages, sharing best practices and the expectations on the ground. We have a coordinating role to play. We have no mechanism for compelling other federal institutions to do anything, but we are there to advise them, to help them, to support them and to raise their awareness of their obligations with regard to broadcasting.
With regard to translation and interpretation, VANOC will be reporting to us about the conditions on site. The organizing committee must present a business plan that will be approved by the federal government. This plan must contain a projection of all revenues and expenditures and it must cover the entire issue of official languages. We are currently studying the latest business plan submitted by VANOC. The federal government wants to make sure that adequate measures are implemented and that funding is provided done in compliance with appendix A of the agreement that VANOC concluded with us regarding its obligations vis-à-vis official languages.
Senator Tardif: The commissioner said that there was a gap between the good intentions and the necessary resources to achieve the bilingual character of the Games. Are you ready to invest the necessary resources to close this gap?
Ms. Mounier: We have not received any such request from VANOC. If we do, we will look into it. Let me come back to the investment made by the federal government in the Games. The government invested huge sums in infrastructure, in the free delivery of all essential federal services to the organizing committee and on legacies. It is a kind of contract. In exchange, the organizing committee takes care of other aspects including the official languages issue and all the things included in appendix A. That is the nature of our agreement with the organizing committee. However, if the organizing committee makes a request, we will certainly look into it.
Senator Goldstein: My first question is about the Paralympic Games. About a month ago, the minister testified that a contract signed between the IOC and the Bell Consortium did not guarantee fair access to the broadcasting of the Paralympic Games.
VANOC is in charge of broadcasting the Paralympic Games. What are you doing to ensure that fully 100 per cent, and not just 95 per cent, of the Paralympic Games will be also broadcast to all Canadians?
Ms. Mounier: Indeed, we are concerned about the coverage of the Paralympic Games. I said that we had brought some members of the consortium to meet with deputy ministers. Our deputy minister, Ms. Larocque, put the question to the consortium. We know that the consortium is negotiating with VANOC. There are no results yet, but the consortium's reaction — if you invite representatives of the consortium here, you might get more information from them — was very enthusiastic when it spoke of unprecedented coverage for the Paralympic Games. I understand that VANOC has engaged the services of Rick Hansen to advise them about the media coverage. Perhaps you could put these kinds of questions to members of the organizing committee. We are monitoring the situation closely because it is also important for the department.
Senator Goldstein: My second question is about signage. I understand that within the community of Whistler, there are already posters up in both languages, but on the road from Vancouver to Whistler, there are none for the time being. Will there be any and who is in charge of this?
Ms. Mounier: This whole issue of signage is really important and that is why it is a part of appendix A of the multilateral agreement that we signed with the organizing committee and that really sets out the obligations with regard to signage. It provides that all signage on every site of the Games, including Government of Canada signage as well as the signage of British Columbia, Vancouver, Whistler, as well as the signage of the official sponsors that is installed by VANOC for the duration of the Games, must be bilingual. This applies to the athletes' village, the stadiums, the media centres, and the central administration offices of the Games.
Senator Goldstein: Is signage linked to the Games and not necessarily to the site? I am talking about the road.
Ms. Mounier: Regarding the road, VANOC must encourage its other partners to put up bilingual signage. We hear that they will provide a manual to all the partners that will include sections about the use of both official languages in signage. There is also a manual for standards and graphics. You could put this question to VANOC, because they are also in charge of this.
Senator Goldstein: I am not criticizing you, but this is perhaps the seventh or the eight time today that I hear that certain questions, which I consider fundamental, are someone else's responsibility. Can the minister or the department take it upon themselves to actively force other stakeholders who have obligations, who are contractually obligated, to meet their obligations? In other words, what are you doing as an active player rather than a mere observer?
Ms. Mounier: We have some mechanisms. The organizing committee's business plan that I mentioned earlier is one of the mechanisms through which we can make sure that VANOC meets all its obligations regarding official languages. We are in constant communication with the organizing committee to try to get things moving ahead. Our role is to advise and to guide but we really do not have the capability to compel anyone, apart from what is in the Multilateral Agreement.
Mr. Robinson: I might add, senator, if it applies to the games and if you are a spectator, you have a ticket and you are going to an event, you will enter a bubble. Your ticket is in French and English, your guide is in French and English, and the announcements are in French and English. Everywhere you go, signage, for example, the sign that will lead you to your seat, is in French and English. If you require the services of a volunteer — and there will be 25,000 volunteers in total supporting this project — people will be identified with a badge so you will know, if you speak French, you can go to that person. Our responsibility is to the games and the operation of the games and that is what we are concentrating on.
Senator Goldstein: That is fine, Mr. Robinson. I am not casting any stones. I know it is a difficult task.
Senator Comeau: At the very outset, when we began to study the Olympic Games, I put a question regarding the representation of francophones in Canada and I was told at the time that the Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue was representing francophones — I do not remember the exact words — in all regions of Canada outside of Quebec. Today, in your presentation, you said that the Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue and the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique are representatives of the Canadian francophonie. At that time, two years ago, I made the observation that this was not accurate. I must come back to this point; the Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue does not represent Canada's francophones.
I would like to know where you go that idea and why it was not corrected since the last time you appeared before us.
Ms. Mounier: I admit that when we said that they represent, in other words that they are spokespersons, I think that the foundation —
Senator Comeau: The foundation is not a spokesperson for the francophones in Nova Scotia, let me tell you. I met with the directors of the foundation two or three times, I have no issue with their relevance, their legitimacy and the fine work that they are doing, it is an entirely different issue. I met the directors of the foundation and I congratulated them on their work. I do not want to diminish them in any way, and I told them so, but they are not spokespersons for francophones in Canada. Therefore, it bothers me, it worries me that you go on saying that those people are our spokespersons while we have no spokespersons. I hope you can see my dilemma. Of course, the foundation has good intentions, I am not contesting that, but they are neither our spokespersons nor our representatives.
Ms. Mounier: Thank you very much, Senator Comeau. We will make sure that we correct the language.
Senator Comeau: As you correct the language, perhaps you could look into the possibility of having representatives for the communities that are not represented. Perhaps you thought that the foundation could adequately represent everyone.
Ms. Mounier: Let me say that the foundation was identified and chosen by the FCFA. They have an intermediary role.
Senator Comeau: The FCFA cannot designate my spokesperson; they have no right to do that, let me tell you right away, they cannot designate either my spokesperson or my representative. They do not have any such mandate.
Ms. Mounier: Thank you for bringing this our attention, we will correct that and say that they are intermediaries, if you agree with that.
Senator Comeau: Yes, if you wish. This is my second question. I noted that you did some recruitment in the Montreal and Ottawa regions. Are you going to recruit volunteers in other regions as well? I believe that you toured some regions.
Ms. Mounier: To be accurate, we did not tour any regions, it is up to the organizing committee to recruit its volunteers. We have tried to help them; for example, there was a partnership with the University of Ottawa to review various candidates, but the organizing committee went on this tour to recruit volunteers from all over Canada and to make sure that it has a critical mass of people who can offer services in both official languages.
Senator Comeau: Let me come back to my point about the foundation; I take no issue whatsoever with the foundation's goodwill, I want to be absolutely sure that you understand that that is not what I am driving at. I think they are doing good work, they are doing their best, but I feel a bit irritated when I hear that someone is representing me when I have not given that person any mandate to represent me.
Ms. Mounier: You can rest assured that we have taken note of this. It will not happen again.
Senator Champagne: I would like to come back, with your permission, Ms. Mounier, to the show that was put on at the beginning of the countdown period to the opening of the Games. At the very last minute, the evening before or the morning on the day of the show, we realized that there was no French. Then, we asked a singer who had prepared to sing in English to make a quick translation and to work with cue cards to say two or three sentences in French. It is inconceivable that such a thing was allowed to happen at the beginning of the countdown.
When you spoke of the francophone elements in the show last February, you mentioned choreography. Did it say anywhere that the choreographer was a francophone? Was his name written on his back? I do not think that this is a very skillful answer from you and I was uncomfortable when I heard you say that. I cannot believe you that could not find anything else and that there was not a person who could have sung in French for such an important show. Am I not right after all?
Ms. Mounier: We are also disappointed. We agree that there was not enough francophone visibility. We discussed this February 12th event with the organizing committee and we made sure that in future, the term ``bilingualism'' will be properly understood.
The contribution agreements for the 2010 Cultural Olympiad have been tightened up. Let me say that there is an advisory committee for the opening and closing ceremonies to ensure the participation of francophone artists. My colleague, Ms. Bourget, Assistant Deputy Minister, is sitting on that committee to make sure that the advisory committee does not lose sight of its obligations vis-à-vis both official languages and that the ceremonies truly reflect our duality and our diversity. We significantly tightened up the mechanisms and our exchanges are much more sustained.
Senator Champagne: I am happy for the choreographer who got the contract. However, I do not think that this is enough to put a francophone stamp on the show.
Another subject I would like to discuss with you has to do with the Paralympic Games. Currently, CTVglobemedia is telling us that there will be unprecedented coverage of all the events and that they will be the best ever and the best organized Games. The Paralympic Games will take place at the same sites immediately after the Olympic Games. It is not difficult for them to say that the broadcasting will be unprecedented. During the last Olympic Games, all we had was a small 30-second video clip during a newscast when one of our athletes won a medal or took such an extraordinary fall that it was worth showing. Nothing was ever broadcast directly from the Paralympic Games. These young people do work very hard and they deserve to have all of their performances covered.
I hope that this ``unprecedented'' coverage will not be minimal and that we will be able to actually follow the athletes as they compete. Is this part of CTVglobemedia's vision? Can you answer my question or must I wait for two weeks before I can put it to the people from CTVglobemedia?
Ms. Mounier: I think that it is an excellent idea to put this question to the people from CTVglobemedia. Heritage Canada is responsible for Sports Canada and we hope that the Paralympic athletes will get excellent coverage so that everyone can share in this extraordinary sporting experience. We are waiting for the results of the negotiations to see whether the coverage will truly be unprecedented and whether it will live up to our expectations.
Senator Champagne: Do not be surprised if I ask all my colleagues to help me call upon our ministers who are in charge of this matter to work toward getting VANOC and CTVglobemedia to reach an agreement so that we can see our Paralympic athletes in 2010 in both official languages.
Senator Losier-Cool: I feel reassured by what I have heard today. Our committee can be proud of having undertaken this study and of being a part of all the organizations that closely follow the Olympic Games as they evolve. Earlier you said in answer to a question from Senator Goldstein that you were able to provide guidance and advice. On page three of your presentation, you said that tremendous progress has been made and there is still much work to do. But if, despite all this goodwill, the level of bilingualism continues to be inadequate, will the federal government have any power to impose any positive measures?
Ms. Mounier: That is a very hypothetical question. We are engaged in a fruitful dialogue with the organizing committee and all of our partners; be it partners who have contractual obligations, such as VANOC, or legal obligations, such as our other colleagues, the federal institutions. We are sure that everyone wants the Games to be a success and that we become a model in the area of official languages. We are all working toward the same goal. We still have a long way to go before we reach it, but everyone is channeling their energy in the same direction. With a partnership between the Commissioner of Official Languages and the organizing committee, and the contribution of the foundation, we will have mechanisms in place which will help us carry on until we reach our goal.
Senator Mockler: I remember very well when I was the Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs and for Sport, when Mr. Furlong visited us in New Brunswick. The first issue we discussed was bilingualism at the Vancouver Games.
In light of your experience and the work you are doing in close collaboration with VANOC, do you believe that we will reach the goal of having the best bilingual Games ever?
Ms. Mounier: I am fairly confident about that. There is no room for error. As my colleague said earlier, as soon as visitors enter the airport on their way to the Games, they will be in a bilingual environment because signage, tickets and advertising will be in both languages, there will be bilingual people to help them, and they will have access to French and English television broadcasting. We are not leaving anything to chance. We need to achieve this. That is our mandate.
Senator Meckler: Is there some way for us to get Tourism British Columbia to develop a website in French?
Ms. Mounier: You will have to put that question to our colleagues from the Department of Industry and from the Canadian Tourism Commission. They are aware of the issue. Unfortunately, that is not part of my mandate. But we have had discussions with our colleagues.
The Chair: This concludes the first part of our meeting. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for having agreed to appear before the committee. The clerk will contact your staff to get the information requested by the senators. Honorable senators, we will take a few minutes and then begin our roundtable.
(The committee suspended.)
(The committee resumed.)
The Chair: We would now like to welcome to the roundtable Mr. Jacques Gauthier, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Official Languages of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games; Ms. Francine Bolduc, Director, Workforce and Official Languages; Mr. Rhéal Roy, President, and Mr. Yves Trudel, Executive Director; Mr. Guy Matte, Executive Director, Canadian Foundation for Crosscultural Dialogue. Ladies and gentlemen, the committee thanks you for having agreed to appear today. I would now invite each organization to speak in turn. I would ask you not to take more than five minutes to do so because as you just saw, senators have a lot of questions. You have the floor.
Jacques Gauthier, Chair, Advisory Committee on Official Languages, Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games: Madam Chair, I am a member of the board of directors of the organizing committee for the Olympic Games, and I am also the chair of the new advisory committee which was created a few months ago.
Mr. Furlong, our CEO and Ms. Bolduc have had the pleasure in the past to speak to you on the progress we have achieved in the area of official languages. I will make a brief presentation, but I will gladly answer any questions you might have.
As you know, we have committed to organizing bilingual Games under the multiparty agreement we referred to in the course of the deputy minister's previous testimony. In our capacity as the board of directors, we have established official language priorities and objectives, and we are strongly committed to respecting not only the minimum requirements contained in the multiparty agreement, but to do more.
This is why we decided to strike this advisory committee, which I will speak to you about in a few moments. For us — and I am speaking here on behalf of the board of directors — it was not a matter of language, but rather a matter of respecting the spirit and increasing the profile of linguistic duality.
Let us not deny the fact that this is an easy promise to make on paper, but in Vancouver, in a more Anglophone environment, it is more difficult to apply.
That is why the board of directors, with the strong support of VANOC's directors, decided to do even more by creating the committee headed by a member of the board of directors.
Do not doubt for a moment that official languages are an integral part of all of VANOC's committees, that they are part of every area of activity of VANOC, and that they are part of everything involved in staging the Olympic Games. Each of these committees has made an unequivocal commitment to official languages. More and more is being done on the coordination front to ensure that everyone involved in the organization of the Olympic Games is aware of francophone issues.
On top of our commitment, which is part of the multiparty agreement, we have also made commitments to some of our partners, including the Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue and the Association des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique. We have also made commitments towards various provincial governments which are also concerned with official languages, including the Government of Quebec which contributed five million dollars to VANOC towards the organization of the Games, which holds an important position within the organization, and which wants to see tangible results in the area of official languages.
The members of the board are well aware that over four billion people will be watching the 2010 Olympic Games. This is not only important for the federal government, but it is also important as far as our legacy is concerned. That is why we are working as hard as we can to create an extraordinary event for all Canadians.
We are not saying that these are the ``Vancouver Games,'' but rather that they are the ``Canada Games.'' As you can tell from my accent, I am more of a francophone than an anglophone. It is no coincidence that I was given this mandate.
Of course, no one can do the job on their own, not us, not even VANOC. We need a partner, namely the federal government; we also need the Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue, the Association des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, and we also need all of our partners who are striving to reach the same objective. As well, we have taken to heart the report of the Commissioner for Official Languages, Graham Fraser, which was tabled before Christmas. Let it be known that we greatly appreciate the report. In fact, it is the basis of the work of the committee I chair.
Before giving the floor to my colleague, I will conclude by talking about our first official meeting, which was held last Friday in Vancouver, and at which were present various committee members, including Ms. Judith LaRocque, Deputy Minister for the Department of Canadian Heritage, and Mr. Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former Prime Minister of France. We also had a representative from the Association des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, a representative from the Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue, myself, and a representative of VANOC, Ms. Donna Wilson, who is responsible for official languages, among other things.
Our first decision was that the basis of our work would be to apply the recommendations of the Fraser report. Everyone is unanimous on this point: why invent something when Mr. Fraser, supported by an experienced team, conducted a study which took over a year, and reached conclusions we were familiar with and in agreement with? So we decided to support his conclusions and recommendations, and to use the report as the basis of our work.
We also agreed to apply pressure where we thought pressure needed to be applied. It is true that there are still shortcomings in the area of translation. However, there are fewer than before, because a year and half ago, we basically had no translation. But there is still work to be done.
We have also made significant progress in the area of French broadcasting. We applied a lot of pressure on CTV to appoint a chef de mission. You heard about this on RDS. We have reached an agreement with the newspapers of the Gesca Group for a francophone publication not only in Quebec, but also in Ontario and Nouveau-Brunswick.
In short, we have made a lot of progress. So here are the three conclusions our committee reached. First, we must do a better job informing people like yourself about the progress which has been made over the past few months so that the information getting out to you is as fair and appropriate as possible.
We also agreed to review major issues every month to ensure that they are addressed appropriately and brought to the attention of the right stakeholders, including the government.
Last, we decided to impress upon the board, and also upon all those involved, that the major issues must be addressed quickly, not next October or November, but by the end of the summer, to make sure that everything is done on time.
I will stop here because I think my time is up. I will be happy to answer any of your questions. Right now, I will now turn the floor over to Ms. Bolduc, who is in charge of official languages and who will speak to the progress we have achieved.
Francine Bolduc, Director, Workforce and Official languages, Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games: Madam Chair, I will try to use my four minutes efficiently. A few months ago, I appeared before your committee and reported on some of the progress which had been made. It is a pleasure to see you again and to report on the progress made since my last appearance. We have made progress on several fronts.
Mr. Gauthier talked about the advisory committee we struck. So I will not come back to that, or focus on the progress made with CTV in the area of television broadcasting and the webcasting of the Games.
However, as far as the francophone media is concerned, we signed an agreement to ensure that francophones across the country will have access to the games, before they begin and while they are taking place. This was extremely important and we were able to get it done.
Regarding translation, we transferred the translation section — which used to be with communications — to official languages. The move helps to ensure better coordination between official languages objectives and translation services, and it also enables us to better monitor this situation. We are more aware of translation needs now. We conducted an in-depth study with regard to VANOC's various functions to make sure that we had clearly identified needs between now and the end of the Games, and to make sure we would have enough resources to deliver the goods.
As for providing bilingual services during the Games, we are making sure that we will have enough bilingual volunteers to provide those services. It is not just a matter of identifying enough bilingual volunteers, but also to assign them to roles where they will be able to use their French in a working environment.
This week, we will also sign an agreement with the Collège Éducacentre of British Columbia, which will continue to provide our employees and even our volunteers, that is, those who are willing, with French lessons. We believe this will help our employees and volunteers provide services in French.
As far as communications are concerned, several things had already been established, such as our Internet site and press releases, which are all in French. We are now focusing on signage. We want to make sure that all signs will be in both languages. There is also the matter of tickets, the medals and the announcements which will be made at the sporting venues. We are in the process of selecting the sports commentators to make sure that they speak both languages well. Even the signs located at the sporting venues which provide information to the public will be in both languages.
Last, we are in the process of finalizing the 2010 Cultural Olympiad program. This week, the first 20 shows of the 2010 Cultural Olympiad will be announced. I can assure you that five of the shows will feature francophone artists, including three shows involving language creations.
Only the first 20 shows will be announced; programming will be revealed in three stages. However, we are very pleased to be able to proceed this way. When you see whom we have chosen, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Réal Roy, President, Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique: Madam Chair, thank you for having invited our federation. I am particularly pleased to be here today in my capacity as president.
I would like to acknowledge the presence of Mr. Yves Trudel, our Executive Director, who is very familiar with the Olympic Games' file. Thank you for having taken such a keen interest in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, and for your leadership. We would also like to thank the Commissioner of Official Languages in particular, and for the report he tabled last December on this issue, and for the fact that he is following this matter closely.
From the very outset, when we fought for the privilege to hold the 2010 Olympic Games in British Columbia in French, the Fédération knew that it was taking up a magnificent challenge on behalf of British Columbia's 300,000 Francophones.
Since June 2006, we have worked closely with our partners, the Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue and VANOC, and we are proud and confident that the commitment made by the Government of Canada and VANOC will guarantee that the 2010 Games will be bilingual, and that they will help us celebrate and share with the entire world Canada's linguistic duality, which is one of the pillars of our society and identity.
We already said in June 2008 that your recommendations helped, and they continue to help our organization and its partners ensure that French gets the attention it deserves at the 2010 Games. The federation helps to develop efficient collaboration mechanisms, and we are proud to sit on VANOC's new advisory committee on official languages, which is chaired by Mr. Gauthier. We are therefore well positioned to speak to the significant progress made by VANOC in the area of official languages, especially with regard to its analysis of the required capacity at all levels, and the efforts being made to recruit bilingual employees and volunteers.
The FFCB is continuing its important work on the ground to help promote the Games, recruit volunteers who speak French, and generally mobilize the francophone community of our province. The federation continues to take advantage of unique opportunities to increase its profile, such as the 2008 and 2009 Cultural Olympiads which showcased our artists, and the celebrations related to the Olympic Torch Relay, which will help our community create or strengthen its relationship with everyone living in our regions, even the most remote ones.
However, challenges remain. In our airports, and even at the various Olympic sites, the presence of French is often secondary, and we sometime feel it is perceived as being an irritant better forgotten. In fact, you alluded to this earlier. In our opinion, it would be inconceivable that the athletes, official delegations, sports federations and francophone visitors from elsewhere in Canada would find it difficult to receive information in their own language, before and during the Games, be it in the area of signage, written documents, in the broadcast media or when speaking with employees and volunteers.
What concerns us in particular, less than 10 months from the start of the Games, and this might be difficult to fix, is the role of external partners during this great event, especially in the area of signage, as was previously mentioned by department officials.
How can we convince provincial and municipal governments, sponsors and the organizers of all the public events which will be held during the Games, that the commitment made by Canada also affects them, and that they are fully involved? To convince these other partners, we will need to employ even more persuasive arguments.
The federal secretariat of the Games and VANOC in fact have the necessary powers to make their partners aware of the situation, and to convince them not only of the importance of French everywhere during the Games, but also that the presence of French must be maintained once the Games are over.
By actively providing services in French to all the participants to this great event, at all levels, all the parties involved will contribute to the creation of a legacy which will enrich our province and our country, and open our minds even more to the international francophonie.
If we are to hold truly bilingual Games, everyone involved will have to assume this responsibility. We will have to continue to work together and find solutions, so that after the Games, we will not have to apologize for the mistakes and omissions which were made, or for the lack of human and financial resources, or for falsely raising expectations.
VANOC has promised to astound the world. The Grand Témoin and the Federal Secretariat for the Games represent, on the one hand, the commitment of the IOC and, on the other, the commitment of the Canadian government.
I would like to conclude by raising an issue which continues to concern us and which also concerns the Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue. I am referring to the Place de la francophonie, a francophone public area, which will be located in the heart of Vancouver for the duration of the Games. We are still waiting for this wonderful project, which will bring people together, to materialize. We urgently need confirmation of the support of the Canadian government so stakeholders can go ahead with this project.
The fact that Canada was selected to host the 2010 Games represents a magnificent opportunity for the development, growth and visibility of our communities at many levels: economic, social, and of course cultural and artistic, as well. It also provides opportunities for tourism. This is true not only for the francophone community of British Columbia, but also for the great Canadian francophone family, which is also along on this extraordinary odyssey.
Thank you for having taken the time to listen to us. I am sure that everything said here today, and all the questions asked, will contribute to the success of this great adventure, which will show Canada's deep attachment to linguistic duality. Thank you very much; we would now be pleased to answer your questions.
Guy Matte, Executive Director, Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue: Madam Chair, I am the Executive Director of the Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue. We are the intermediary, the forum identified by the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes, and other Canadian and Quebec organizations to ensure that francophones are well represented at the Games. We do not claim to be a spokesperson, but we have been chosen to speak on behalf of those organizations with regard to this event.
Along with our friends from British Columbia, we signed a memorandum of understanding with VANOC several years ago. We take our work extremely seriously. We have had many meetings with VANOC representatives to examine every aspect of the games, but with a particular focus, of course, on language.
I would like to address three recommendations contained in your report. You worked hard on your report, which we read; three recommendations in particular affect our work.
The second recommendation called for the creation of a position of observer on VANOC's board of directors to ensure that the francophone community is represented. None of these signatories to the memorandum of understanding creating VANOC wanted to reopen it. So we had to find an alternative solution and it is thanks to Mr. Gauthier, a member of the board of directors who was appointed by the federal government, that the official languages committee came to be because he managed to convince VANOC's members of that it was important. The committee reports to VANOC's human resources committee and to the board of directors itself; a member of the foundation, Michel Matifat, is also a member of the board.
Although this initiative does not correspond exactly to what you recommended, or to what we had originally asked for, it does bring the francophone and Acadian committees closer to the board of directors. We will have to see whether, in practice, the committee will be able to actually do something to ensure that VANOC respects its commitments in the area of linguistic duality.
In your third recommendations, you called for the federal government, VANOC and the CTVglobemedia consortium which is broadcasting the Games, to find a way to guarantee that all Canadians receive equal access to televised coverage of the 2010 Games. Our foundation is working in close collaboration with RDS officials to provide the best possible French coverage of the Games across the country. We are closely monitoring the progress made by RDS in its agreements with satellite stations and cable operators. Although the big companies have agreed to unscramble, at no extra cost and for two months, RDS and TQS signals, we still need to negotiate similar agreements with the 200 smaller cable operators in Canada. Agreements are been negotiated with each individual operator and the process is moving forward.
We pointed to the fact that the francophone and Acadian communities might not get the programs in French which feature the athletes and the Games in the months preceding the opening of the games in February 2010. We are presently trying to find ways to fix that problem. I believe that, in the coming weeks, we will make significant progress on that front.
As for your fourth recommendation, which called on hotels in Vancouver to provide at least one private French channel, we were told that every hotel was on board, except maybe for two, but we will also try to convince them to come on board.
The foundation takes its broadcasting responsibilities seriously and will continue to work with the consortium to find ways to ensure that Canadian francophones receive the same level of service as anglophones. I would like to speak to other issues, such as the Olympic torch. The foundation has been working hard to ensure that in each community along the torch relay route, efforts are made to reflect our linguistic duality in the celebrations that are held to mark this event.
We are encouraging each one of these towns and cities to include one or more francophones representing the community on its planning committee, which is called ``the community celebrations group.'' So far, nearly all the towns and cities that we have contacted have welcomed our suggestion very positively. So far, 41 of these communities outside Quebec, not including British Columbia, have one or more French-speaking representatives.
We are also encouraging francophones to sign up to be torchbearers. We are also continuing with the planning of the Place de la francophonie. We are still coming up against obstacles and difficulties, but every day we receive requests from various organizations, including the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, and even more recently, we had an inquiry from the Austrian Embassy. Some of the people there would like to take part in the events at the Place de la francophonie and have a presence there. If the federal government is willing to release the last small chunk of funding, we will have some assurance that this exceptional forum offering cultural activities will go ahead as planned, thereby showing the entire world that Canada's francophone and Acadian communities are dynamic and vital. That would make us very happy.
I could tell you about several other activities, but I realize that you like to ask questions so I will conclude on that note and allow you some time to put your questions.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you very much. All your presentations were enlightening, and I am sure as we approach the time for the games, we will have the greatest games ever with both languages.
You said we still have work to do on the Francophonie, but once the work is done, we know that we have many French artists who come from other backgrounds, such as African and Arabic. Will they be given an opportunity to participate in this village? What are those opportunities, and what should they do now to ensure they are part of this great event?
Mr. Matte: People have to realize that the Place de la francophonie will also be an international gathering place. Canada will be there, of course, and French-speaking Canadians will be in the spotlight, but the Organisation internationale de la francophonie also wants to be there. So we are going through the Organisation internationale de la francophonie and we are approaching the various governments that belong to the OIF, be they participants or organizers, and they are suggesting various performances.
Earlier I mentioned Austria to you. Austria has observer status at the Organisation internationale de la francophonie. It has already approached us and suggested at least one artist, if not more, whom we could feature at the Place de la francophonie. So we are working with the various embassies, the various countries and the OIF to make this venue a success.
Senator Jaffer: I am talking about Canadians: Arabic Canadians and African-Canadians. Will they participate?
Mr. Trudel: Absolutely. The French arts and culture scene in Canada is very diverse. That is particularly true in British Columbia. It is important for us to use our networks, the Fédération culturelle canadienne française and the Conseil culturel et artistique de la Colombie-Britannique to encourage everyone in the arts and culture community to contact VANOC and have their names placed on the registry of artists. The reason is that everyone who will be organizing cultural activities as part of the Games or in conjunction with the Games will be using this registry to prepare their programming. So it is important to let all the independent artists know that someone will be keeping track of their participation and that they will be considered when the programming is drawn up. So we are sending out that message in British Columbia and everywhere else in Canada.
Senator Jaffer: My second question has two parts. The first part started to concern me a few days ago, and now it has been reinforced by what we heard from the earlier panel: Who is in charge? I need to know. I hear we have partners and partnerships. I always thought VANOC was in charge. By that I mean that when the Olympic Games sign goes up in Richmond and it is in English only, I do not accept — forgive me — that if Richmond does it, we have to accept it. It is the Olympic Games. People arrive at the airport. Signage must be in both languages.
Whistler has done an amazing job in signage, but Vancouver and Richmond are sadly behind. Who is in charge of making sure signage is in both languages?
With respect to the issue of translation, I brought up this matter with the minister the last time. I understand the translation budget has a $1.5-million shortfall. The minister responded that VANOC has not applied, so you need to write a letter for the money. That what I understand from his answer.
When $24 million is spent on the relay, and we do not have the $1.4 million for translation, I worry. I need answers.
Mr. Gauthier: To respond to your concern about translation, we have already had discussions with the Department of Public Works and we have informed them of our translation needs. The initial discussions were held more than one year ago. The gap between our needs and what we have been able to get is closing. Two weeks ago, we met again with people from the department to update them on our needs. Tomorrow VANOC and the Translation Bureau have a one- day meeting to clearly explain our real needs to them at this particular stage. I am very confident. A great deal of progress has been made between our first meeting and the second meeting, which was held last week.
During our initial meetings, the people from VANOC said that they understood our concerns. During our last meeting, they said that they understood our concerns, but they would make it their job to find a solution. So we are already off to a good start. I am sure that we will find a solution. We must find a solution. The solution is in the hands of the Translation Bureau. I will let Francine answer the first question.
Ms. Bolduc: You were asking who at VANOC is responsible for signage. We are responsible for all the signage related to the Olympic Games, as well as signs that mention the Games. The acronym that appears on the Olympic oval in Richmond is the responsibility of the City of Richmond. Each town and city has various Olympic sites. For example, one site has already been baptized GM Place. All the sites have already been named. Richmond decided to go ahead with its signs. But as soon as you are within the official Olympic zone, we are responsible for production and for making sure that signs are bilingual. So that is the distinction between the two situations. Have I answered your question?
Senator Jaffer: I understand it is at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Are you not in charge of the word ``Olympics,'' and why is it only in English?
Ms. Bolduc: It is complicated. We are not in charge of the signs. The Richmond municipality worked directly with the International Olympic Committee, IOC, to ensure they had the word ``Olympic'' in it. The municipality wanted to create something for the future. It was an arrangement made by the IOC and the city.
Senator Jaffer: VANOC went to a pizza company to ensure they did not use the word ``Olympic'' because VANOC owned it so please do not tell me Richmond can get away with this use. I will not accept that explanation. You went after a small pizza company, in existence before the Olympics went to Vancouver, and said they could not use that name. You cannot let Richmond use it either.
Senator Comeau: I am not satisfied with your answer.
Can you not tell the municipality of Richmond that its sign has to be in both official languages or else you cannot be part of the group? That is all there is to it, if you cannot comply, good bye, and you remove the sign. I do not like the answer you gave to Senator Jaffer's question.
The Chair: Could someone tell us if something can be done?
Mr. Gauthier: Yes. Your observations are very relevant. We have already made representations to the municipality of Richmond to explain to them that people do not necessarily make a distinction between VANOC's basic obligation, the obligation of the government and the obligation of the municipalities. But at the end of the day, we do want to have something bilingual. Representations have been made. Just as representations have been made to Tourism British Columbia, which unfortunately does not report to us. We will be making other representations.
Now you are going one step further when you say, ``do that.'' You realize that we do not have the authority to require anything, but we do have the authority to insist. We have insisted and we will continue to do so. Of course, I am speaking on behalf of VANOC.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: First of all, madam, gentlemen, I would like to congratulate you on the important work that you are doing. I am a newcomer here, and I am very pleased to meet with you and to see everything that you have been able to do.
As members of the Fédération francophone de la Colombie-Britannique and members of the Canadian Foundation for Crosscultural Dialogue, could you tell me if you used some of the funding that you receive from Canadian Heritage to carry out your commitments regarding the 2010 Games?
Is the funding provided to your organization sufficient for you to assume responsibility for official languages during the 2010 Games?
Are there any requests for funding of projects related to the Games still awaiting a response?
Mr. Trudel: Of course, as is the case elsewhere, the Government of Canada is one of our partners. It is providing financial support so that we can play our role of coordinating activities and getting our communities involved in the Games.
That being said, special funding was allocated to us so that we could fulfil this role. We do not have to use our main funding. However, we did have to do so to some extent. In other words, the funding was extended over three years for the second year. We had to split the funding in two and take some money from the envelope for British Columbia, which limits the capacity of groups in that province to organize special activities as part of the Olympic Games' year, which of course they would have liked to have done.
Yes, we are still waiting for answers regarding 2009-2010, which is the most important year since it precedes the Olympic Games. We have yet to receive any confirmation from the federal government concerning our application for funding for the coordination of the games so that we can pursue our work in this area.
Mr. Matte: The same thing applies to the Foundation.
Senator Tardif: Mr. Gauthier, in the past, I had the privilege of carrying out the tasks associated with a position that was more or less like the one you currently hold. I was the chair of an official languages advisory committee for two international sporting events held in Edmonton, the World Masters Games in 2005 and the World Championships in Athletics in 2001. I have a good understanding of the challenges you are facing.
I see that the committee had just been set up. It is unfortunate that it took so long to strike such a committee. It is absolutely essential that we have, right from the very start, representatives from every sector where official languages play an important role. There are numerous committees involved in planning an event of this magnitude. The longer you wait, the greater the likelihood that decisions have already been made and the harder it becomes to rectify them later on. Are there areas where you have had to correct the decisions that were already made? How convinced are you that the outside partners and sponsors will assume their responsibilities when it comes to official languages?
Mr. Gauthier: First of all, I should have got to know you before accepting this position. I would have met with you to understand our obligations and role. It is true that you found out a bit late about this committee being established. Nevertheless, the relationships we have with the various players that are part of the committee go back several years now. I told the board that I wanted to have a formal committee that would coincide with the wishes expressed by Mr. Fraser. He wanted to see a committee that did not include international participation and I wanted to go a notch higher in order to be able to benefit from expertise, particularly that of Mr. Raffarin and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. So the committee was set up a bit late, but the truth is that the relationships between the members of this committee have existed for several years, at least ever since I have been a member of the board. I was given this responsibility quickly, two and half years ago.
Are we inevitably headed in the wrong direction in some areas? The answer is no. On the contrary, everything that has been done complies with the recommendations made in Mr. Fraser's report. And the tasks that we will have to carry out in the future are also on line with the recommendations. I have no concerns about the solidarity of our committee members. I see tangible results that would indicate that we are on the right track.
As for the question of whether or not our external partners, our sponsors, will respect their commitments with respect to bilingualism, I must say that there are people in VANOC that do nothing but that, they inform our sponsors and partners about bilingualism requirements; they provide them, for example, with information kits showing what bilingualism is and how this could apply to them. A lot of effort has been made. The issue of correspondence has also been addressed. That is one of our concerns. We have requested and we will be formalizing our request with VANOC officials in order to find out what has been done, where we are and if they are still some grey zones remaining, what more we need to do in order to get the desired results. We are being very proactive on this issue.
Senator Tardif: Does that include promotional items? Would you be prepared to turn away a big corporation such as Coca Cola, for example, if it did not comply with the requirements?
Mr. Gauthier: Fortunately or not, we already have all of our sponsors. As far as promotional merchandise is concerned, I would say that there were more problems eight, nine or ten months ago. The commissioner raised this issue, appropriate action was taken and the required changes were made so that the vast majority of merchandise is bilingual.
Senator Losier-Cool: You mentioned the former French Prime Minister, Mr. Raffarin, who was the Grand Témoin during the Francophonie Games in Beijing. When the Grand Témoin for the Olympic Games is appointed, what role will he or she be playing with respect to the committee? Will this person be a member the committee?
Mr. Gauthier: That is an interesting question. Before answering your question specifically, I would like to go back a little bit. At VANOC, we wanted all of the players involved in bilingualism to be on the same page. We wanted to avoid situations where, for example, Mr. Fraser would be saying one thing and we would be trying to argue whether in fact this is what he been saying this,, or again, where VANOC says one thing and the Organisation nationale de la Francophonie says the opposite.
Back in October, I said that we had to sit down with all of these stakeholders and share the work and objectives that we had. Consequently, I met with Abdou Diouf before Christmas to talk to him about striking this committee. I had a commitment from him that the next Grand Témoin would be appointed in accordance with our vision of what needs to be done to ensure that we have the bilingualism we are discussing here. I will be seeing Mr. Diouf shortly, in mid May, in Paris, for a work session where we will inform him of our objectives and show him the action plan that will be implemented so that we can deliver what we have been talking about from the outset.
So the Grand Témoin will be, more or less, a friend to our committee and probably a friend of Mr. Raffarin, who is a high level diplomat. If they cannot be friends, at least they will know each other. So they will have the ability to share, which is more difficult for someone at my level. It is difficult for me to call Jean-Pierre Raffarin without having a specific objective. It is also difficult to call Mr. Diouf without the support of the Olympic committee.
We are able to bring big players together and work together. The Grand Témoin will continue to be a witness for the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, but he will share our objectives.
The Chair: Could we get a copy of the action plan?
Mr. Gauthier: Certainly.
The Chair: You could send it to the committee clerk.
Mr. Gauthier: Basically, our action plan includes the recommendations made by the Commissioner of Official Languages that were not resolved to our satisfaction.
The Chair: And the follow-up activities.
Mr. Gauthier: And the action that will need to be taken, indeed.
Senator Goldstein: I have two questions. First of all, Mr. Gauthier, I want to thank you for setting up this committee and for being as involved as you are. I see that you used the word ``representation'' for the companies that are, for the time being, reluctant to comply with the bilingual requirements in Canada. You indicated that you are hoping — these are your own words — that they comply. In addition to using persuasion, do you have any other way to compel them to comply? I do not remember which of you mentioned that they were two hotels that were still reluctant to get on side. Can we take away their status as an official hotel if they do not comply?
Mr. Gauthier: Let me be as frank as possible: I do not know. I am a volunteer and I am trying to use every hour I have available to take practical steps in light of the commitments I made to the committee. I do not know whether VANOC has the means, above and beyond its convictions, to change things. That is not our role. We are an Olympic organizing committee; we do not have the power to force a hotel to become fully bilingual if they do not wish to do so.
What we are trying to do too with regard to our partners is to create a bilingual momentum that would ensure that anyone who was not bilingual would be the bad guy. To date, this is working because bilingualism has become important for everyone.
Senator Goldstein: Who confers the designation of official hotel?
Ms. Bolduc: Are you referring to the official hotels for the Olympic family?
Senator Goldstein: Yes.
Ms. Bolduc: We do, in cooperation with the International Organizing Committee.
Senator Goldstein: So could you take away that designation if they do not comply?
Ms. Bolduc: That is a good question, and I do not have an answer, but VANOC clearly will provide bilingual resources to the hotels in order to assist the Olympic family or anyone else there in obtaining services in the language of their choice.
Senator Goldstein: I am not asking you to provide us with names, but I dare hope —
Mr. Gauthier: Could we provide a response at a later date?
Senator Goldstein: Fine.
Senator Tardif: You say that VANOC does not have the means to act on this. Who then do you feel is responsible?
Mr. Gauthier: I was careful to be quite specific in my answer. I did not say that VANOC does not have the means. I said: ``I do not know whether VANOC has the means.'' That is quite different. I will check and will provide you with an answer. Can we strip a hotel that does not comply with the bilingualism requirement of their ``official hotel'' designation?
The Chair: Are you going to find the answer and get back to us?
Ms. Bolduc: Yes.
The Chair: So again we have the question: Who is responsible and who makes that decision?
Senator Goldstein: I have another question regarding the Place de la francophonie. I thought, after having heard from witnesses and after having read reports, that it would be a big undertaking. Granville Island is well known by Vancouverites as a cultural mecca — perhaps counter-cultural as well — so it is an excellent choice for the site of the Place de la francophonie. Are you having any difficulties implementing this initiative?
Mr. Matte: Yes. The funding is coming from two different sources. One portion is coming from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the other will probably come from Industry Canada; it still remains to be determined. I believe that the Minister of Heritage said, either to you or to the Standing Committee on Official Languages of the House of Commons: ``We support the Place de la francophonie.'' Our problem is not with Canadian Heritage.
The second block of funds will probably come from Industry Canada, further to a government announcement to grant $100 million over two years for celebrations, major festivals and so forth. However, the department's criteria and responsibility have not yet fully been established. I made a request that is floating around because we do not know who to make it to. It is the last piece of the puzzle.
With regard to the Place de la francophonie and the international organization, we have commitments from New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec and we have just come back from western Canada, but we do not have the block of funding from the Department of Industry. It is not a matter of ill will. I am not accusing anyone there, but at present, there is a vacuum which means that we cannot find where we need to file this second part of the federal application.
Senator Champagne: I am going to try and clear things up. Getting back to the subject of the Place de la francophonie, last spring, I went to Vancouver with members of the APF, the Association parlementaire de la Francophonie.
You had just been appointed, I think, Mr. Gauthier. We were not able to meet with you. We were unable to meet given your schedule and ours, and I remember that I was absolutely delighted to learn that Granville Island would be the site of the Place de la francophonie. I am perhaps somewhat more familiar with the programming you just referred to because I was the one who made the announcement in French. The Minister of State for Tourism, Diane Ablonczy, made the announcement in Toronto and I did so for Quebec. So, up to 20 per cent of the total budget may be allocated to this venue. It is quite interesting.
You were talking about Mr. Diouf, who you will see this spring. I think that we will be all meeting in Paris, the first week of July where the APF is having its general meeting. Mr. Diouf normally graces us with his presence. So, let us hope that we will have a Grand Témoin, who with your assistance and that of Mr. Refrain, will be able to identify what we have done well. Because the Grand Témoin de la francophonie normally has the job, as they say in Paris, of finding out what could go wrong.
I feel a little strange, Mr. Roy. When you talked about Granville Island, your tone was quite negative: ``It is even more urgent that the Canadian government's support.'' It is as if the Canadian government had not done anything, had remained totally uninvolved.
And, Mr. Matte, when you talked about it, you were already a little more positive. I told you which department you needed to communicate with. That should help make things easier.
Why do you see things so differently?
Mr. Roy: I can start to answer and then I will pass the microphone over to Mr. Trudel. Yes, we are extremely satisfied with the Place de la francophonie. Furthermore, we met with Mr. Moore just before Christmas and he gave us his confirmation.
Senator Champagne: You are telling me, ``it is even more urgent that the Canadian government's support be confirmed in order to allow all the stakeholders involved to move forward.''
Mr. Roy: The second part concerns Industry Canada's contribution. That is what Mr. Matte explained. And we still do not know what is happening with that. So, our concern is with that department and not with Canadian Heritage. Perhaps the text should be more specific. I want to thank you for the comment and the question.
Mr. Trudel: Well, I would like to add something with regard to that feeling of urgency. We have to understand that, in British Columbia, such an important project, which involves the Canadian and international francophonie and which is happening in British Columbia, is an opportunity to bring the francophonie from around the world here and this puts a considerable amount of pressure on us. You will understand that local stakeholders are also preparing special events for the Olympics and expect, naturally, to build ties with the Place de la francophonie project. So, given the delays in the formal announcement of this venue, people who are preparing projects are encountering problems. The Games are almost upon us, hence all this talk of urgency. At some point, it becomes difficult to prepare events, to liaise with other parties, to coordinate efforts, to jointly promote events and so forth when some players are more ready than others because there are working on smaller projects. As far as the bigger project goes, it seems that on several occasions they have almost been ready. However, there is very little time to go before the Games. We are confident, naturally, but yes, the sense of urgency remains.
Senator Champagne: It seems that we will have to bring this to the attention of the minister responsible for Vancouver.
I just wanted to make one last brief comment. You should let us know which hotels are reluctant to provide services in French; you should make their names public so that people can avoid them. That is my opinion.
Mr. Matte: I know that this is a disturbing issue, and that is why I made the remark. In my view, there are two ways of dealing with things when it comes to bilingualism in Canada. First, you must ensure that, for a legal standpoint, everything is done as stipulated in the legislation, as stipulated in the Charter and in agreements. But we also have to reach all Canadians, by demonstrating and helping them appreciate that bilingualism is a fundamental Canadian value. We have to deal with people. If we spend our time rapping people on the knuckles, people like the hotel staff down there, that is not necessarily a positive approach. But earlier we were talking about jobs, and our job is to speak, to inform, and to discuss, as we do with the torch relay. We ensure that cities that do not wish to play by rules are not included. However, we will still deal with them and take a special approach to ensure that, once they have had an opportunity to see what is involved, they will also want to be a part of this broad Canadian project we are in the process of developing. I am sure that, once those two hotels in Vancouver realize they are the only ones not taking part, once they realize that Shaw is providing free broadcasting, I think their attitudes will change. We just have to see what's what. Right now, we know of two hotels that are not on board. But we will still go ahead. Those two hotels do not want to participate. But our job is still to go ahead. Therefore, instead of always giving people a hard time, perhaps it's time to use a little persuasion.
Senator Champagne: Had this excellent committee already been established when the countdown celebrations were held? This question is for the lady in charge of the francophonie — how were we, francophones, involved aside from choreographing shows?
Mr. Gauthier: As I said earlier, the committee had not officially been struck. However, we had already been having discussions for some time with a variety of francophone stakeholders. I attended the show, and I was also disappointed.
Senator Champagne: Did you give anyone a hard time over this?
Mr. Gauthier: I made my comments clear, I even put them in writing, and no one was happy about it. So in future, steps will be taken to ensure that upcoming events better match our expectations. I have also heard the Deputy Minister mention a standing committee on the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as other important events like the torch relay. The people involved are in touch with Francine and me, so that they can also share what they see with us and ensure that what they see is in line with our expectations.
Senator Champagne: Thank you. We are counting on you.
Mr. Gauthier: I just wanted to add some details regarding the Grand Témoin. In accordance with our discussions, he should be appointed in June. Therefore, if you are there in July, we may well have an opportunity to meet him.
Senator Tardif: I thought that the Canadian Foundation for Cross Cultural Dialogue had been mandated to liaise with VANOC, the Fédération francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, and French-speaking and Acadian communities in Canada. So how could such a monumental error — such as relegating French to such a minor role in the proceedings — ever have come about? How is it that the Foundation, which is funded by Canadian Heritage to carry out its mandate and fulfill its terms of reference, did not tell VANOC to make sure there would be French at the show? Is this not your job?
Mr. Matte: Yes, Senator, that is indeed our role and that is what we did. We were not successful, but we did make those efforts. Let me explain how all this came about, because it will help you understand the times that VANOC changes and what it experiences. We had a meeting with the person responsible for the cultural Olympiad, who was the person responsible for the show held a year less a day before the Games. We were at an official meeting in Vancouver with those people, and asked them what they were doing, and what they were putting in the show. They said: ``We should not worry about it in any way, and that everything would be great.'' I asked for more details. I asked them to be more precise. They said that a very well-known choreographer, Jean Grandmaître, would be in charge of the choreography, and that the whole thing would be extraordinary because it would also serve to prepare for the large- scale choreography needed for the opening ceremonies. They said Mr. Grandmaître would be doing that too. That is what they had planned.
I tried to gauge their understanding of the word ``language,'' and what they failed to understand about linguistic duality. Otherwise, they would have ended up saying that, as long as the person sweeping the floor was a francophone, everything would be all right.
This all happened in December, at a meeting with the Olympic Games organizing committee to discuss that ceremony in particular. At the time, we were told it was too late to make changes. We, the francophones, told them that those arguments were laughable, that nobody would take them seriously, and that we would certainly not support them on this!
Our role often involves assisting VANOC, but in this particular case we notified them that we would not support them, that we would certainly not stand with them before the press in Quebec or outside Quebec.
That is when they came up with this other solution, but everyone agreed it was unacceptable. At one point, we really came up against a brick wall. However, I think that they finally realized how ridiculous the situation was — particularly with respect to this office — and that they did have responsibilities. I dare hope that, as of now, corrective action will be taken.
Senator Tardif: I would sound a note of caution: We keep being told that we cannot interfere with the artistic direction of an event, and that gives people all kinds of reasons and excuses to allow the work that should be done to remain undone. So please be very careful, particularly when it comes to the opening and closing ceremonies.
Senator Losier-Cool: I have a very brief question for Ms. Bolduc. You said that you had entered into agreements with the francophone press. I do not know whether the newspaper La Presse or the media — well, I believe that Le Droit and other newspapers have signed those agreements. Could you enter into the same kinds of agreements with community media? Here, we often have media — small newspapers like La Voix acadienne, for example — telling us that they would like access to that kind of publicity. Could it be done?
Ms. Bolduc: What we plan to do with the smallest newspapers — obviously, they have a role to play and it would be good for us to use them — is provide them with information they can use to write articles. They could really send a message about the Games, and they could really promote linguistic duality. What we would like to do is to approach national press agencies and small newspapers, and provide them with information they could use to write articles over the next few months.
Senator Losier-Cool: Community media have already told us they feel neglected, or, rather, forgotten, by federal agencies when it comes to advertising. That advertising means revenue for them. This may also be an opportunity to publicize the Games within communities.
Ms. Bolduc: Absolutely. We absolutely agree.
Mr. Gauthier: Just one detail: An agreement has been concluded with Gesca — the mother of all regional newspapers, including La Presse — to ensure fuller dissemination throughout the Province of Quebec and its regions, as well as through parts of New Brunswick and parts of Ontario.
Senator Comeau: Could we follow up on that? Could you not enter into discussion with a different agency that represents the francophone press in smaller communities in Nova Scotia, Alberta, or other provinces?
Mr. Gauthier: We were just talking about this last Friday, at our committee meeting. We agreed to approach the Association de la presse francophone, and we will proceed with that. As Ms. Bolduc was saying, what we would like to do is to provide them with all the information they will need and all kinds of ready-to-print material, so that all they will have to do is print it.
Senator Comeau: If I understand correctly, the members of the advisory committee are from Canadian Heritage, are they not?
Mr. Gauthier: Judith Larocque.
Senator Comeau: VANOC.
Mr. Gauthier: Ms. Judith Larocque is indeed on the committee, along with Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Michel Matifat from the CFCCD, Serge Corbeil from the Association des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, Donna Wilson, Executive Vice-President responsible for official languages for VANOC, and, of course, myself.
Senator Comeau: I believe that the commissioners recommended the governments of Quebec and New Brunswick.
Mr. Gauthier: Yes, they did. We voluntarily decided to put that recommendation aside temporarily, since VANOC already has a direct relationship with the governments of Quebec and New Brunswick. We wanted to prevent the complaints that would arise from other provincial governments if specific governments were appointed. Since we are already in direct communication with those governments, we decided for the moment to put that recommendation aside.
Senator Comeau: Some would probably have complained.
Mr. Gauthier: I try to have one good idea a week, and this was that week's good idea!
Senator Comeau: I would like to come back to Senator Jaffer's question regarding the Richmond municipal council. If I understand correctly, the Richmond municipal council authorized unilingual signage for one of the Olympic Games venues, but as far as I know the Olympic Games needs to be a bilingual — if not trilingual — organization. Thus, the City of Richmond would be violating the principles of the Olympic Games. Has the Richmond municipal council been approached in order to discuss this with them?
Ms. Bolduc: Yes. What we need to understand is that most of the Olympic venues were already in place, and already had specific names. That is how the City of Richmond named the venue in question. It is not necessarily an Olympic venue, because it will not become an Olympic venue until the Games actually take place. The site will be used by the community in the years to come. That is really what we need to understand when it comes to the name chosen by the city. When we take charge of the venue during the Games, we will set up our banners and signs in order to bring it into compliance with Games requirements.
Senator Comeau: What is the venue called at present?
Mr. Gauthier: The Richmond Oval.
Senator Comeau: The name is only in English?
Ms. Bolduc: Yes, the Richmond Oval.
Senator Comeau: Has a dialogue been initiated with the Richmond city council in order to apprise them of the problem?
Ms. Bolduc: I do not have that information, so I cannot say that it has. VANOC would most likely be responsible for dealing with municipalities. I will have to find this out.
I was told about the issue, and I called to speak with the person in charge. I wanted to share my concerns. I do not know if anyone was involved before that.
Senator Comeau: What response did you get from the City of Richmond spokesperson?
Ms. Bolduc: First of all, he wanted ``Richmond Oval''. There was no Olympic logo. The city wanted to do something a little different, so it dealt directly with the International Olympic Committee to have the world Olympic and the Olympic rings on their sign. They did not really go through VANOC.
Senator Comeau: So the city approached the International Olympic Committee. After you were informed of the matter, you realized there was a problem. Did anyone phone the IOC?
Ms. Bolduc: Of course.
Senator Comeau: What was their response?
Ms. Bolduc: We were informed that an agreement had been concluded directly with the International Olympic Committee.
Senator Comeau: What was the IOC's response? They can conclude an agreement in Canada with one of the major cities in British Columbia, where a name will be posted in English only. How can that be?
Ms. Bolduc: I was not in touch with anyone on that. I will have to check.
Mr. Gauthier: This is something we are concerned about, as I said earlier. We will be following up on it. We may not have been able to obtain satisfaction on the issue so far, but we are continuing to work on it.
Senator Comeau: The Olympic Games are 10 months away. There is something wrong when a city — like Richmond, for example — can use the term ``Olympic'' in only one of the two official languages, without anyone being responsible for checking with the city council whether they actually have permission to use it. What concerns me is that no one seems to be in charge.
Mr. Gauthier: We cannot solve every problem before it arises. If we could, we would not have this committee. But we have every intention of solving these problems and taking action as other problems arise.
Senator Comeau: This just goes to show that we must remain vigilant.
Mr. Gauthier: I can say that 98 per cent of the problems we had three months ago have already been dealt with. We have far fewer now than we did then.
Senator Comeau: We appreciate what you do, and we know that you are doing your best. We also feel frustrated because we feel responsible as well.
Senator Champagne: I would like to come back to the Place de la Francophonie. Earlier, I may have led you astray, and I wanted to set the record straight immediately. The program we were talking about involves major, recurring events. We told everyone who asked that all the money would be going to Vancouver because of the Olympic Games. Since this is the first year that a Place de la Francophonie will be established on Granville Island, I do not see how it can be considered a recurring event.
We might need to look at this from another angle; although I did my work, I learned something last week. That is what I was told. I apologize.
Senator Mockler: Personally, I have no doubt that, when we talk about language, we need to approach the subject with an iron fist and a velvet glove.
I have a number of concerns. I hope that you will present the same demands to TD Tourism BC.
The Francophonie Summit held in Moncton in 1999 was a model for everything that came after. At the Village de la Francophonie, the young people of our communities must have a role to play. There is a message we want to send to adults, we can send it through young people. I also hope that our artists will reflect all our communities across Canada during performances and events.
My last question is for Mr. Gauthier. Could you please give us a brief overview of the meeting you had with Jean- Pierre Raffarin on April 24 of last year? Any entity, be it a family, association or city, that wishes to appropriate the Olympic logo in any of our communities should without any doubt uphold the meaning of that logo.
Mr. Gauthier: We had a number of matters on our agenda: first, there was an overview by committee members, their areas of expertise, and their expectations. We reviewed and confirmed our terms of reference, because we incorporated the establishment of a committee into an official, agreed upon framework. We therefore reviewed and confirmed the terms of reference to ensure that they were in line with our respective expectations, given the situation.
We also reviewed the report of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, as well as all his recommendations. We reviewed everything that had been done and everything that remained to be done. Then, there was a presentation on Mr. Raffarin's report as Grand Témoin de Pékin, a report which was to be made public over the following weeks. That was just two or three weeks after the meeting. We were able to discuss those recommendations and to see them applied as we finalized our expectations for Vancouver.
We also had an update from Canadian Heritage on their issues, expectations and measures. It was an operational overview of official languages preparation from the department headed by Ms. Bolduc — so from VANOC. We heard a presentation from the President of RDS on the status of their preparation for French-language broadcasting, and the commitment regarding the number of people that will be assigned to French-language Games' coverage.
We also had an opportunity to discuss all the public relations efforts to be established so that our success stories can be better publicized. We realize that there is a four-to five-month lag in terms of the progress that is being made since Mr. Fraser's report was published. We must work harder to publicize what has been achieved, to explain the progress made, and particularly — I come back to this repeatedly — to establish a practical work plan that will set out what has been achieved, what still needs to be done, and when it will be done. The meeting lasted several hours. We are slated to come together again soon to move everything forward.
Mr. Matte: If I may, Madam Chair, I would like to add a brief comment on Canada-wide programming. I would like to say that programming on the Place de la francophonie venue will be Canada-wide, because we are in the process of negotiating with each province and territory for one evening, for one day, during the Olympic Games period. In addition, we have an agreement with VANOC to ensure that artists who are to appear on Place de la francophonie will have an opportunity to perform on other stages under VANOC.
The Chair: I have one last point. Earlier, you said that the action plan consisted of the Official Language Commissioner's recommendations on action needed and follow-up required.
One of the Official Language Commissioner's recommendations was that the internal official languages policy be updated.
When VANOC has updated it, might we have a copy? And if that update has already been done, might we have a copy of the new policy as quickly possible?
Mr. Gauthier: Madam Chair, the update is done, and we will provide you with the policy.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Gauthier.
I would like to thank you for having agreed to appear before the Senate Committee on Official Languages. Please rest assured that we are all behind you, and that we wish you every success in the very difficult work that lies ahead. Thank you very much and have a good evening.
Mr. Gauthier: We will be seeing each other again. I see you as friends who will help us promote our common cause. We will therefore keep you informed. You no doubt have contacts that could be very important to us in helping us move things forward.
(The committee adjourned.)