Official languages ​​| Quotas for board members?

(Ottawa) La Compagnie des chemins de fer nationaux du Canada (CN) doit donner l’exemple en s’assurant que les francophones soient représentés dans son conseil d’administration, a répété à plusieurs reprises le ministre des Transports, Omar Alghabra, lundi. Bien qu’il n’ait pas fermé la porte à ce qu’un quota soit imposé par l’entremise de la loi, le gouvernement semble peu enclin à aller dans cette direction.

Mis à jour hier à 20h10

Mylène Crête

Mylène Crête
La Presse

« Est-ce que vous seriez à l’aise de proposer, vous, comme ministre des Transports […], a legal obligation to force boards of directors to indicate the percentage of francophone representation? ‘ Conservative MP Joël Godin asked him in the parliamentary committee.

“CN and Air Canada are private companies,” the minister said. Having said that, I am very interested in protecting the rights of customers and employees who can choose the language of their choice. »

He then added that he would not insinuate the changes proposed during the committee’s inquiry into Bill C-13 to modernize that Official Languages ​​Act.

CN, which is subject to this legislation, made headlines in April afterwards The press revealed that the country’s largest railway company had closed the doors of its board of directors to Francophones, despite its headquarters being in Montreal.

“We spoke to CN and said we expect them to correct this error as soon as possible,” Alghabra said.

Staff also denounced several language incidents that occurred at the Taschenreau marshalling yard with the arrival of monolingual English-speaking staff.

“We must act now, knowing that this also affects the security issue,” argued NDP MP Niki Ashton. What are you waiting for to trade? Are we going to wait for an accident related to the misunderstanding of instructions between members of a team? »

The official language of your choice

“Quebecians must be able to work in French in Quebec,” the minister said in French at the beginning of his testimony. Several MEPs have also congratulated him on improving his language skills.

A little later, he said he agreed that employees should be able to work in the official language of their choice. “It would be unacceptable for CN to fail to comply with this obligation before Act C-13 is passed,” he replied.

This bill gives the Commissioner for Official Languages ​​five new powers to enforce the Official Languages ​​Act : informal mediation, the publication of their decisions, the imposition of fines, the conclusion of a compliance agreement and the power to issue orders.

CN was the subject of five working language complaints in 2019 and 2020, the minister announced. A smaller number than the lawsuits against Air Canada, which accumulate around 80 good year bad year, since the railroad does not carry passengers.

“We see that it’s not working,” argued Bloc Québécois MP Mario Beaulieu. He believes CN employees in Quebec should use a single common language: French. “Why don’t you let Quebec Bill 101 apply to entities subject to federal jurisdiction? »

“We must also respect the rights of people who do not speak French so that they can do their jobs safely,” Mr Alghabra said. We want to protect the rights of both languages. »

Control of CN’s railway management was transferred to Alberta in early 2020. The move quickly sparked several “irregularities” in the east of the country, according to the Teamsters union, which represents locomotive engineers, train chiefs and shipyard masters.

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