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Stéphane Dion, MP

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Thank you for visiting my website. I hope you can take a moment to look around, learn more about me and the work I am doing for the people of St-Laurent-Cartierville. I look forward to listening to your concerns and suggestions on how to build a better Canada — a Canada that leads the world by example.

Question Period: Aboriginal Affairs and Bellechasse (February 27th, 2015, House of Commons, Parliament of Canada)

Posted on March 3, 2015 | No Comments

Dear all,

On February 17, 2015 at Question period, I questioned the governement on two totally different issues. I first asked the governement why it still refuses to launch a public enquiry on the tragedy of the murdered or missing Aboriginal women. My other question, on Quebec regional development, was about the opacity of the criteria on which the government bases its decisions to accept or refuse to fund a project.

Please do not hesitate to share your comments on these topics.

Enjoy your read!

Stéphane Dion
————–

Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, why is the government treating the regions in Quebec however it pleases instead of according to fair criteria?

It is funding a natural gas network in Thetford Mines, which is good, but it is refusing to do the same in Lévis-Bellechasse. The Coalition gaz naturel Bellechasse did a good job bringing together the municipalities, chambers of commerce, local development centres and RCMs around an exciting project.

Why are the Conservatives taking such an arbitrary approach to our regions?

 

Mrs. Kelly Block (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, liquefied natural gas has the potential to diversify our markets, an energy product offering in energy markets, creating jobs and economic growth for Canadians.

Our responsible resource development plan includes a world-class independent regulatory process that makes decisions based on science and facts, provides for clearer timelines, and reduces duplication to strengthen investor confidence in energy projects. That said, decisions respecting the development of liquefied natural gas rest primarily with the province, and we respect its jurisdiction.

 

***

 

 

Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, why is the government treating the regions in Quebec however it pleases instead of according to fair criteria?

It is funding a natural gas network in Thetford Mines, which is good, but it is refusing to do the same in Lévis-Bellechasse. The Coalition gaz naturel Bellechasse did a good job bringing together the municipalities, chambers of commerce, local development centres and RCMs around an exciting project.

Why are the Conservatives taking such an arbitrary approach to our regions?

 

 Block (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, liquefied natural gas has the potential to diversify our markets, an energy product offering in energy markets, creating jobs and economic growth for Canadians.

Our responsible resource development plan includes a world-class independent regulatory process that makes decisions based on science and facts, provides for clearer timelines, and reduces duplication to strengthen investor confidence in energy projects. That said, decisions respecting the development of liquefied natural gas rest primarily with the province, and we respect its jurisdiction.

 

Response to Yvon Godin

Posted on March 2, 2015 | No Comments

Dear Readers,

On February 28, 2015, the daily L’Acadie Nouvelle published my short response to NDP MP Yvon Godin’s critique of my text on Official Languages, published in an earlier edition of the daily under the heading: Le bilinguisme canadien, un arbre vivant.

Below you will find my initial article, Mr. Godin’s critique (in French only) and my subsequent response.

As always, I will be very pleased to read any comments you might have.

Enjoy your read!

Stéphane Dion

——————-

Canadian bilingualism: a living tree (Published in L’Acadie Nouvelle on February 23, 2015)

Stéphane Dion

The appointment of unilingual Rob Nicholson as Minister of Foreign Affairs does not cut it. Even the Quebec Premier invited the new minister to take French lessons. The head of Canadian diplomacy must be bilingual, or at least able to get by in both official languages. Throughout Francophone Canada, voices are heard in support of that requirement. Bilingualism used to be considered acceptable for some high-level positions, such as Minister of Foreign Affairs or Auditor General; not any more. The bilingualism requirement has grown with time, and this is a good thing.

This evolution stems from the extension, to the Canadian linguistic duality, of one of our country’s fundamental principles, set out by the Privy Council in the nineteen-thirties: the manner in which we interpret our Constitution must be evolutionary, in order to reflect the transformative changes in Canadian society. The Constitution is “a living tree capable of growing within its natural confines”. This is precisely the principle invoked by the Supreme Court to support its recent ruling on medically assisted dying.

The same applies to another one of Canada’s fundamental documents, recognized by the Supreme Court as having quasi-constitutional status: the Official Languages Act. The interpretation and implementation of the Act have evolved with time, creating new expectations and requirements.

In response to this increased requirement for bilingualism, the federal government must be more vigilant than ever. First of all, it must accept no setbacks on this issue, not only in the matter of appointments to key positions but in everything having to do with the Canadian linguistic duality.

Here are a few examples, taken from recent events.

In an emergency, such as the one we lived through on Parliament Hill on October 22, 2014, information must be quickly transmitted in both French and English. And we must abandon the thought of closing a bilingual institution as crucial to safety and security as the Marine Rescue Sub-centre Québec, the mission of which is to respond to distress calls. To prevent another setback, we must find a way to fix the situation, caused by a recent Supreme Court ruling, whereby Francophones whose Official Languages Act rights are infringed while travelling on international flights cannot be awarded damages.

Preventing setbacks is not enough. We must give ourselves the means to move forward. We must establish a new stimulus plan for official languages and minority communities – a real plan that takes account of new needs and cost of living increases rather than a sham made of recycled funds. We must eliminate or at least reduce the waiting lists for immersion schools. We must develop vibrant exchange programs between official language communities. The vast majority of Canadians want their children to learn both official languages. This legitimate need must be met. Institutions representative of our linguistic duality, such as the CBC – Radio-Canada, must be strengthened, not undermined. Furthermore, the bilingualism requirement must fully extend to ministers’ electronic communications.

Canada is very fortunate to have two official languages of international stature, two  tremendous windows opened on the world. They have shaped our past and more than ever, will be a condition of our future success. Like a living tree.

 

Les bottines doivent suivre les babines (Published in L’Acadie Nouvelle on February 27, 2015)

Yvon Godin

En lisant les propos de Stéphane Dion sur l’importance du bilinguisme et de la protection de la langue française au Canada, on ne peut qu’être d’accord. Mais il y a longtemps que la population a appris à juger les politiciens par leurs gestes plutôt que leurs belles paroles. Parce qu’en matière de bilinguisme, les libéraux fédéraux sont loin de faire leur part.

Dion devrait peut-être commencer par faire le ménage dans sa propre cour avant d’avoir le droit de critiquer les conservateurs de Stephen Harper. A la suite de la nomination de Rob Nicholson, unilingue anglophone, au poste de ministre des Affaires étrangères, la réaction de certains députés libéraux a été stupéfiante et assez révélatrice: ce n’est «pas la fin du monde», a cru bon de dire le député Marc Garneau. Voilà qui témoigne d’un manque de sensibilité flagrant des libéraux à l’égard des enjeux liés aux langues officielles.

Comment Stéphane Dion tolère-t-il qu’en 2014, seulement 22 % des questions posées par le Parti libéral du Canada à la Chambre des communes soient en français? Est-ce que M. Dion est doté d’un sens de l’indignation à deux vitesses?

Et que dire des projets de loi portant sur la promotion de la dualité linguistique au pays? Ou plutôt de leur absence… Dans les quatre dernières années, aucun député libéral n’a présenté de projet de loi portant sur les langues officielles.

Pour le NPD, la question du respect des langues officielles et des francophones au pays est prioritaire. Nous en parlons, mais surtout, nous agissons.

Le NPD a déposé des projets de loi portant sur le bilinguisme des juges de la Cour suprême et le bilinguisme des agents du Parlement. Grâce NPD, les agents du Parlement seront désormais bilingues. C’est en étant proactifs que nous obtenons des résultats. Que faisaient les libéraux pendant ce temps?

Le combat pour le bilinguisme se livre aussi sur le terrain. Stéphane Dion a mentionné le Centre de sauvetage maritime de Québec, le seul bilingue au pays, qui fut menacé de fermeture par les conservateurs. Nous avons travaillé d’arrache-pied sur ce dossier et nous avons signé une belle victoire. Mais où étaient les libéraux pendant cette lutte?

Dion décrit très justement Radio-Canada comme l’institution phare de notre dualité linguistique. Encore une fois, les paroles et les gestes des libéraux ne correspondent pas. Stéphane Dion est bien placé pour en témoigner, il était ministre lorsque son gouvernement a sabré le budget de Radio-Canada de 357 millions de dollars en 1998.

Au lieu de faire de beaux discours, Tom Mulcair a agi et pris des engagements clairs: Il annulera les coupes de 115 millions imposées par les conservateurs à notre diffuseur public, lui fournira un financement stable et pluriannuel. Pendant ce temps, le Parti libéral du Canada refuse de prendre d’engagements fermes.

Les gens qui ont de véritables convictions ont compris l’importance que les bottines suivent les babines. Vous pouvez faire confiance au NPD de Tom Mulcair pour réparer les dégâts causés par les conservateurs et les libéraux avant eux.

Yvon Godin Député d’Acadie-Bathurst Claude Gravelle Porte-parole de l’Opposition officielle en matière de langues officielles ILLUS: A la suite de la nomination de Rob Nicholson, unilingue anglophone, au poste de ministre des Affaires étrangères, la réaction de certains députés libéraux a été stupéfiante et assez révélatrice.

 

Quand les babines s’emballent : Response to Yvon Godin, “Les bottines doivent suivre les babines” (Published in L’Acadie Nouvelle on February 28 2015)

“Until now, Mr. Godin and I worked together for the promotion of official languages, with our contrasting styles, in a fruitful emulation. But now Mr. Godin decided to make the cause of official languages a partisan issue. I suspect that this is not coming from him, but from a Thomas Mulcair and a NDP more and more concerned with the coming elections. This will not affect my resolution to work with all the people of good faith who value the Canadian linguistic duality and are willing to make it bloom — as a living tree. ”

Stéphane Dion
Liberal Critic for Official Languages
Member of Parliament for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville

Speech – The Stratford Festival

Posted on February 26, 2015 | No Comments

Dear all

On February 24, 2015, as Liberal Critic for Canadian Heritage, I delivered a speech in support of a motion celebrating the famous Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Please find attached the speech, in both official languages. As always, I will be very pleased to read any comments you might have.

Enjoy your read!

Stéphane Dion

——————-

 

Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, my speech today, in snowbound Ottawa, will be anything but a Winter’s Tale. It will tell a story that began over 60 years ago, on July 13, 1953. On that day, what had until then been A Midsummer Night’s Dream in journalist Tom Patterson’s mind became reality.

The Shakespearean lovers among my hon. colleagues will already have guessed what my intervention is about. On behalf of the Liberal caucus, as the Liberals’ spokesperson for Canadian heritage, I wish to express our support for the motion tabled by the member for Perth—Wellington, which reads as follows:

That the House recognize the Stratford Festival’s distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario and Canada since its inception in 1953.

The motion from the government side is all the more welcome in that, so far, most of the government’s forays into cultural affairs have been a Comedy of Errors. Let us hope that the motion will not amount of Much Ado About Nothing so that Canadian artists and cultural creators can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief and declare, “Now is the winter of our discontent”.

What is the reason for this motion? The question must be asked, because a festival as well known and prestigious as the Stratford Festival certainly does not need such a motion. The festival’s fame is much greater than any motions this House may devote to it.

The House has never felt a need for a motion recognizing the economic and cultural contribution of the Quebec winter carnival or the Calgary Stampede. It would not occur to the Austrian parliament to recognize the Salzburg Festival as a great festival. It goes without saying. Even just stating that the Stratford Festival is a brilliant festival is as inarguable as saying the sun shines in the day and not at night.

Why is this motion before us? Surely it is not meant to incite a debate. There is nothing to debate, because no reasonable person could oppose this motion or oppose the Stratford Festival. Is there even one member of this House who would say, in Molière’s words, not Shakespeare’s, “Hide this festival that I must not see”?

No one would say that, of course, and certainly not a Quebecker, considering all the Quebeckers who have performed at this festival, beginning with the illustrious Jean Gascon, who served as its artistic director from 1968 to 1974.

Still, if we must have a debate, I can find more to talk about. I have the wit for that. I could say, for example, that the motion before us does not do complete justice to the Stratford Festival.

In order to ensure that All’s Well That Ends Well, I could suggest adding a few words to the member for Perth—Wellington‘s motion as follows: That the House recognizes the Stratford Festival’s distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario, Canada and the whole world since its inception in 1953.

It is my opinion that in moving this motion, the hon. member for Perth—Wellington simply wanted to give us a farewell gift before leaving politics. He wanted to make us happy, along with everyone who loves and supports the Stratford Festival. I will happily take this opportunity to declare my admiration for the Stratford Festival.

For my own pleasure, I will continue to dot my speech with little quotes from Shakespeare, although I ask the indulgence of my anglophone colleagues to my accent, which tends a little too much towards Molière or Tremblay to be truly Shakespearean.

Of the Stratford Festival, nobody can say Love’s Labour’s Lost. This is because the festival has done an outstanding job of fulfilling its mandate: to set the standard for classical theatre in North America, using Shakespeare as its underpinning.

While focusing on entertaining its audience with classical, contemporary and musical theatre productions, the festival has also brilliantly fulfilled at least three other missions.

First, the festival trains, develops and nurtures Canadian artistic talent. It taps into and helps cultivate the great talent our nation has to offer.

Second, festivals like the Stratford Festival are major catalysts in strengthening the social and collective bonds of a community. The collaborative effort that goes into the organization of such festivals, the shared joyful experience of participants and spectators on the opening day and at every performance really brings a community together.

Just last month, I had the pleasure of visiting the great city of Stratford, meeting with members of the Stratford arts and culture community, as well as local citizens there. What struck me most was how much this festival is rooted in the identity of individual community members and how much this festival has helped individuals heighten their sense of community.

Third, art festivals provide economic growth. As the city’s largest employer, the Stratford Festival contributes significantly to the multifaceted nature of the city and surrounding region, drawing millions of tourists, as well as art organizations and businesses, which bring them substantial economic activity, investments and local job opportunities.

On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I thank everybody involved in the Stratford Festival for the great success they have achieved in promoting Canadian culture on the international stage and for showcasing what Canada has to offer to the global arts and culture scene. With no end in sight, the Stratford Festival espouses the Bard’s words in Twelfth Night:

 

Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.

 

The Stratford Festival’s greatness was not thrust upon it. That greatness is the result of vision, talent and hard work.

Let all Canadians and people abroad celebrate the festival’s great success. Let them come to Stratford in great numbers to participate in this signature world-class experience.

Now, with sincere apologies to the author of the Scottish Play, I would remind all of my colleagues that: to vote or not vote in support of Motion No. 545, that is not the question.

There is no question that we must vote for it.

 

 

Press Release (26 February 2015)

Posted on February 26, 2015 | No Comments

Ottawa – area Liberal MPs and candidates call on the government to reconsider the location of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism February 26, 2015 […]

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Speech – Medically Assisted Dying

Posted on February 25, 2015 | No Comments

Dear Readers, Below is the speech on medically assisted dying I delivered in the House of Commons on February 24, 2015, in support of a motion tabled […]

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Press Release (25 February 2015)

Posted on February 25, 2015 | No Comments

Press release – Stéphane Dion Blood Drive   Blood Drive: The Member of Parliament Thanks Saint-Laurent Residents for their Generosity Saint-Laurent, February 25, 2015 – For […]

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Speech – National Anthem Act

Posted on February 24, 2015 | No Comments

Dear all, On February 23, 2015 in the House of Commons, as Liberal Critic for Canadian Heritage, I supported the proposal, put forward in a Bill […]

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Question Period: Official Languages and Energy-East (19 February 2015, House of Commons, Parliament of Canada, Ottawa)

Posted on February 23, 2015 | No Comments

Dear all, On February 18, 2015, I urged the Conservative government to solve the linguistic problem that might constrain the National Energy Board hearings on the […]

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Question Period: Official Languages (18 February 2015, House of Commons, Parliament of Canada, Ottawa)

Posted on February 19, 2015 | No Comments

Dear Readers, On the matter of ministers whose electronic communications are unilingual, the Minister of Canadian Heritage answered me on February 17, 2015 that those messages […]

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Question Period: Official Languages (17 February 2015, House of Commons, Parliament of Canada, Ottawa)

Posted on February 18, 2015 | No Comments

Dear all, On February 17, 2015 in Question Period, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau berated the Prime Minister for attempting to intimidate the CBC journalists, Liberal […]

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