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Drouin retains his position as president of the APF

Photo: Adrian Wyld Archives The Canadian Press Franco-Ontarian Liberal MP Francis Drouin during question period in the House of Commons, October 27, 2023, in Ottawa

Michel Saba – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

Posted at 2:01 a.m.

  • Canada

Unsurprisingly, the Bloc Québécois motion to dismiss Franco-Ontarian MP Francis Drouin from his position as president of the Canadian section of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF) was defeated Thursday evening , probably in the wake of the massive registration of liberal elected officials wanting to save their colleague.

“It’s a battle that had to be fought, a battle of principle. We cannot tolerate a president who behaves like this. We expressed our disagreement,” declared Bloc member René Villemure, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Mr. Villemure was pleased to have gone “to the end” of the reasoning, that is to “a vote that we could not win” given that the association was “populated” with liberals.

M. Drouin, who not only occupies the presidency of the Canadian section of the APF, but who is also president internationally, is in embarrassment for having treated witnesses who advocate for protection more than two weeks ago from French for “full of shit”.

The member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell disagreed with the interpretation of the data presented by witnesses before the official languages ​​committee on the influence that attending an English-speaking university or CEGEP has on Anglicization .

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Among certain liberals, the main person concerned admitted after the vote that he had “organized”. In other words, that he encouraged some of his colleagues to swell the ranks of the APF.

“A rule that is unwritten in Parliament […] is that our internal bickering remains internal. Then, we don’t bring that to the international scene. And for me, it's a question of principle,” added Mr. Drouin.

His fellow Member of Parliament for Ottawa—Vanier, Mona Fortier, said that the The result made him happy. “Francis […] apologized, and is a frank defender, promoter of the Francophonie. So for me, it makes me happy to see that he will continue to do his job,” said the Franco-Ontarian.

She said that this saga, which has been going on for almost three weeks, allowed her to discuss with her parliamentary colleagues, and particularly the Liberal caucus, the state and importance of the Francophonie, not to mention that she discovered that a good number of between them are taking French lessons and want to practice speaking it.

The Conservative spokesperson for official languages, Joël Godin, affirmed that despite the “disappointing” result, he will continue to lead this “fight” with the Bloc and the New Democrats in parliamentary committee.

“What is unfortunate is that it is he who [as international president] is going to be the host of the annual session in Montreal. The guy who was arrogant, slobbering, disrespectful towards people who gave their opinion, their data. And this person represents us internationally,” he lamented.

During the virtual meeting, parliamentarians tried to have the camera closed closed in order to promote transparency of deliberations, but the request was rejected following a vote. Liberals intervened against this attempt, we learned.

The vote on the motion was secret. Only the result indicating that the motion had been defeated was communicated to the members.

The battle is mainly symbolic. Mr. Drouin's two-year mandate will end at the beginning of July.

Quickly after the incident, the Bloc Québécois gathered enough signatures to convene this extraordinary general meeting in order to show Mr. Drouin the door. The Conservatives and New Democrats had indicated that they did not believe that Mr. Drouin could remain in office.

The Liberals, initially in the minority, mobilized massively in the last days to come to the rescue of their colleague. The number of parliamentarians who are members of the Canadian section of the APF has almost doubled since the meeting was convened.

The statutes of the Canadian section of the APF specify that “any senator or deputy” can be a member. It is not required that they speak French. Moreover, a good number of new Liberal members are unilingual English speakers.

Parliamentary obstruction

< p>Earlier in the day, Liberal MPs redoubled their ardor in obvious attempts at parliamentary obstruction aimed at preventing the Official Languages ​​Committee from voting on a motion calling in particular for MP Drouin to be removed from their group.

“If the opposition wants to continue to attack an MP personally, we will defend him. And if we have to continue to do it until Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, we will do it,” said Marc Serré, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Official Languages, during a press scrum at the end of the meeting, suggesting that this obstruction could continue until the parliamentary recess.

During the meeting, he criticized the oppositions for carrying out “a personal attack” towards “a great defender of the Canadian and international Francophonie” in order to achieve “strictly political gains.” While giving long speeches, he and his Liberal colleagues repeat ad nauseam that Mr. Drouin has apologized and implore the opposition to move on.

The official languages ​​critic for the New Democratic Party, Niki Ashton, who was not present in person, judged during the meeting that the Liberals were showing “arrogance” and turning the committee into “a circus”.

“We see Liberals protecting one of their members,” she said. But let's be honest, what we heard from this member in committee was to minimize the testimony of witnesses who have serious concerns about the decline of French in the province of Quebec, the most French-speaking province in our country. »

The motion being debated was deemed inadmissible by the chair of the committee, but the group voted by majority to still debate it, which was not cannot digest the Liberals who see it as a way of circumventing the rules of the House of Commons.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116