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S'enregistrer au Flux RSS Le Sénat du Canada

Post under ‘Franch’ tag

The Conservatives must be “released immediately” from Government

5 May 2021 at 14h50


SENATE QUESTION PERIOD -  Quality of translation

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Along the same lines, but regarding matters not nearly as serious as the publication of official reports, on April 22, 2010, you said you would make inquiries regarding the translation errors that abounded in an invitation from your colleague, Gary Lunn, that was sent to all parliamentarians, the French version of which was positively appalling.

Today’s Le Devoir published — on the front page no less — this invitation addressed to all parliamentarians, including everyone here today, in a French that was so terrible that the journalist summed it up as follows:

How could anyone possibly understand the French version of the invitation?

The title of the invitation read as follows:

“Pour la Libération Immédiate” . . . [for immediate liberation]

I do not know if that means the liberation of the government, but really!

. . . the press release proclaims, instead of the usual “Pour diffusion immediate.” [for immediate release]

It really takes some imagination to understand. Perhaps if you understand it, you could explain it to me.

The text reads as follows:

Le Ministre de Défense Peter MacKay, le Ministre de Sécurité Publique Vic Toews et M.P.s de tous les partis politiques tiendra un événement sur la Colline de Parlement dans le soutien de troupes canadiennes servant en Afghanistan.

An MP or “Member of Parliament” should be rendered as “un député” in French. The text continues:

L’événement doit lever de l’argent pour acheter des cartes de cadeau pour le retour à la maison de membres CAF de l’Afghanistan. Pour l’instant, $45,000 a été levé. Le sénateur Pamela Wallin exercera les fonctions du maître du soir de cérémonies.

Based on the distribution list, the message was sent to at least 1,100 people. Messages that contain a typographical error are sometimes recalled by the sender, usually minutes after the message is sent. Five hours after the message was received, the invitation had not yet been recalled.

It was sent at noon yesterday. Today, it was on the front page of Le Devoir, and so far, no changes have been made. The journalist concluded that Vic Toews must be blushing from embarrassment or perhaps he was not informed by his assistants that a French message, obviously translated using software, was unintelligible.

Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate know when her government will truly value the francophones of this country and send invitations in correct French?


Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I saw the report in Le Devoir by Hélène Buzzetti with regard to this particular invitation.

When I first heard about this event, I thought, what a wonderful idea, what a terrific cause and what a great location. I then read the comments of Hélène Buzzetti.

I think it is a stretch for Senator Hervieux-Payette to try to impugn motives of the government; that somehow the government is being disrespectful to one of our official languages.

When Senator De Bané raised the issue of the invitation sent from the office of Minister Lunn, he was apologetic and embarrassed by the incident and indicated he had taken steps to ensure that when invitations are sent from his office, careful measures will be taken to ensure they are properly communicated.

In this particular case, I cannot answer for the people responsible for sending invitations like this out, but I believe, honourable senators, that no one, whether anglophone or francophone, whether bilingual or not, would see any ulterior motives in mistakes made by various officials, whether the mistakes are made in English or in French. It is regrettable, but it is hardly an indication that the government is somehow, as the honourable senator seems to indicate, not being respectful of Canada’s official languages, in particular the French language, when we have a Prime Minister who always goes out of his way to demonstrate the importance of both official languages in this country, French and English.


Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, first of all, I would like the minister to confirm that this message will be corrected and sent to francophone guests in a language they can understand. Second, would she please indicate what measures have been taken by her government to ensure that representatives of all departments have sufficient knowledge of French to draft messages? And given that we still have the impression that these messages go through the Prime Minister’s office, who in that office is responsible for verifying language quality? Who allowed such an unintelligible message to be sent?


Senator LeBreton: We do not have language police in some jurisdictions in this country.

Senator Mercer: No, they police everything else.

Senator Ringuette: Is there a mandatory sentence in here?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, this invitation was sent out by a minister, as was the case with Minister Lunn. To suggest that, for some reason, this was indicative of a lack of respect is troubling. It is beneath any of us to impugn motives that are not intended.

Honourable senators, obviously, a staffer in this particular minister’s office sent this invitation, but I do not know the exact process that they followed. As with all areas of government, with respect to anything sent out from the government or from ministers’ offices, we urge senders to be careful to use the proper language, whether it is French or English. As I mentioned to the Honourable Senator De Bané, I see errors in English on almost a daily basis.

Having said that, in this case, let us take the matter for what it is. It was a well-intended invitation that, in the view of some, was not properly communicated. I take that criticism as genuine, and, as I did with Minister Lunn, I will refer the matter to Minister Toews and ask him to ensure that these things do not happen again.

With regard to the Prime Minister’s Office, we were accused enough and unfairly so. Honourable senators can imagine what the media and the opposition would say if we went around checking everyone’s invitations. There would be no end to criticism over that.


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