Block MP Mario Simard, who is deprived of any interpretation, sees his rights violated

A monolingual French-speaking bloc MP sees his language rights violated and blames the conservatives when interpreters no longer translate the deliberations of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources on which he sits due to the constant cacophony there – in English, of course.

“Many Conservative MPs are talking over each other, which means there is no longer any interpretation for French speakers at this point. […] “It encroaches a little bit on our (parliamentary) privileges,” said MP Mario Simard on Monday The Canadian Press challenged him on the subject.

Mr. Simard, who is the bloc’s natural resources critic, raised the issue during discussions last week when the Conservatives clashed with the committee’s chair, Alberta Liberal George Chahal.

Mr. Chahal had just made a decision at the time, ruling that “unrest in the committee does not pose a health and safety issue” for the interpreters, but that in this case “there will be a disruption to the service.”

In his decision, the President reiterated that he would be “vigilant” to ensure that interpreters were available to allow “equal and fair” participation for all members of the committee “in accordance with the Official Languages ​​Law and the Constitution.” . Mr. Chahal therefore reminded elected officials that they are prohibited from speaking before he gives it to them.

It was enough for the points of order to emerge, starting with Alberta Conservative Garnett Genuis, who accused him of misleading the committee by previously citing health and safety risks while laboriously trying to maintain order and to calm the enthusiasm of elected officials.

“And although Conservative members regularly attempt to correct your misinformation, you have reiterated your claim that multiple open mics posed a health and safety risk, which is clearly not the case,” he explained. It would be more appropriate if you apologized to the committee. »

Mr. Simard responded that this amounts to saying, “Please allow us to remain disgraceful because it does not harm the performers.”

The statement caused excitement in the room. “I didn’t say that,” Deputy Genuis said a few times in French.

Another Conservative, Jeremy Patzer of Saskatchewan, tried to justify that it was “extremely important to note” that elected officials do not turn on their microphones when exchanging “jokes” while others are speaking, which is “not offensive to the performers.” “insulting”.

During his speech, some of his colleagues saw fit to comment on his remarks several times, prompting the president to remind everyone of “the statement I just made.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus, for his part, ruled that having “several people speak on the microphone at the same time” was “an abusive tactic” and that the Conservatives’ objections were only aimed at “denigrating” the committee president. .

“As simple as that”

Mr Simard argued that the Conservatives would hear “nothing” if French-speaking MPs spoke at the same time because “the people sitting over there on the other side of the glass doing translations can’t translate ten people at the same time.” Open microphone.

“The Conservative Party does not understand one fundamental principle, which is this […] Everyone must have access to what is being said. So the main problem is the fact that you open all the microphones at the same time and speak at the same time, and at that moment I don’t understand anything. It’s that simple,” he said.

In an interview on Monday, at the end of a committee that turned out to be much quieter than previous ones, Mr. Simard expressed regret that the Conservatives were invoking the rules and effectively “demanding the right to obstruct and heckle.” “ » without being asked to stop this practice.

According to him, this uproar is “an excuse” to slow down the work of the committee. This is because the Conservatives have used parliamentary obstructionist tactics that have resulted in the committee being completely paralyzed since October 30th.

“For about twenty hours our main conversation has been about knowing whose turn it is,” Mr. Simard summarized. This does not diminish the cynicism of the population towards the work of politicians. Frankly, if I asked someone I know to listen to what I was doing during my time on the committee, I think he would be very discouraged. »

The Canadian Press was unable to follow the progress of the discussions beyond last Wednesday because the broadcast system of the House of Commons debates is having difficulty managing the video broadcast of that session, which was merely suspended without being adjourned for a month.

To watch in the video

Jordan Johnson

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