Trudeau testifies in French before the emergency commission, promising to “make an effort.”
In response to the increasingly criticized absence of the French from the commission of inquiry into the state of emergency, Justin Trudeau is promising to try to express himself in Molière during his expected testimony on Friday. Although the Prime Minister regretted that the debate was almost entirely in English, he refrained from criticizing his ministers who spoke little or no French. About twenty sentences in total over 22 hours of listening.
After arriving in the Commons on Thursday, Justin Trudeau said, “I regret that there were not enough French during the commission.” “Of course, I will try to make the most of it so that everyone can understand me in both official languages,” he said, noting that simultaneous translation was proposed for the process.
However, this service will not be used much for translating from French to English. Because within six weeks several dozen witnesses were speaking French. Steve Charland, leader of the Farfada protest group. Two of Justin Trudeau’s seven cabinet ministers marching before the commission this week.
In defense of his ministers, Prime Minister Trudeau said, “If there were not many questions in French, sometimes it is difficult to answer in French.”
20 phrases in French
Of the lot, only Defense Minister Anita Anand and Acadian Dominique LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, spoke a little French.
The former spoke five sentences in about an hour and a half, while the latter spoke 15 sentences during his five-hour testimony discussing the situation in Quebec during last winter’s crisis. Mr. LeBlanc also thanked Judge Paul Rouleau later in the evening and joked that he was going to smoke a cigar with his colleague Marco Mendicino, who paraded in front of the French-Ontarian judge.
Mendicino, the minister in charge of Public Security, although he spoke very good French, offered only “Thank you” to conclude his testimony at 6:30 a.m. Justice Minister and Montreal MP David Lametti also said only “thank you, good luck” after three hours on the witness stand.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland did not speak French despite testifying for nearly five hours on Thursday.
Ministers responsible for Civil Defense and Transport, Bill Blair and Omar Algabra, do not speak French and therefore only testified in English.
On Monday, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) director David Vigneault and two other senior CSIS leaders, Michel Tessier and Marie-Hélène Chayer, all testified exclusively in English for 4:30 hours.
Mockery and monolingual decisions
At the beginning of the hearing, Mathieu Fleury, a municipal councilor from Ottawa’s French-speaking Vanier district, was rebuffed by a lawyer for the organizers of the “freedom caravan”. Mr. Fleury asked him to ask a specific question in French about the definition of the term micro-aggression. “My name is Brendan Miller,” the lawyer replied, mocking the incomprehension of the council member who had spent five hours testifying in English as a second language.
Just this week, the commission issued two rulings on the appearance of witnesses in English and access to unredacted state documents requested by the “caravan” organizers. The French translation of these two decisions was released 24 hours 48 hours after the English one.
The lawyers of the various parties conduct their hearings almost entirely in English. Colloquial French often boils down to brief official statements by the registrar during breaks, announcing in both official languages that “the commission is lifted” or “the commission continues its work.”
The Rouleau commission will conclude its public hearings this Friday with testimony from Prime Minister Trudeau. The mandate of the public inquiry is to determine whether the federal government’s invocation of the Emergency Act last February to respond to border blockades and the subsequent three-week occupation of Ottawa was justified.