Question Period – June 7th

Question on the candidate review process for Commissioner of Official Languages.

Read the full text from Question Period here.

Commissioner of Official Languages

Candidate Review Process for Commissioner

Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I was just tapped on my shoulder about two minutes ago and have been alerted that Ms. Meilleur has withdrawn her candidacy for the position of Commissioner of Official Languages.

In view of the latest developments, leader, I will ask that real consultation take place with each of the leaders of the Senate, caucuses and Senate parliamentary groups; that the Senate and its members receive an outline of the process to be used not only for the Commissioner of Official Languages but for other parliamentary agents that will be appointed, because there are seven other individuals; and that the candidate review process not be completed and communicated to the Senate leadership, including yourself, Senator McCoy, Senator Day and myself, before real consultation and feedback has taken place between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Senate leadership so that a fair, equitable and transparent process can take place for all parliamentarians and all hard-working Canadians.

This is a request that’s off the cuff, but I think it’s important in view of what we have experienced. This is not a victory for anybody because this is a process that I think we can agree had some challenges and issues. The objective here is to try to make it better for parliamentarians and Canadians. If you could assist with that request, that would be most appreciated.

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I want to begin my response by thanking Ms. Meilleur for putting her candidacy forward and for going through the process, which she described as rigorous and independent. Her testimony here has been part of that process.

She concluded that advancing her candidacy at this point would be a distraction to the important work of the Commissioner of Official Languages, and I am grateful to her for the decision she has taken.

With respect to the process and the way forward, I want to assure the honourable senator of two things: I will convey to the government the issues that he has raised, but I also want to reiterate that the government has made a commitment to more transparent processes for appointments such as this, and it is in that spirit that I will convey the recommendations and comments of the honourable senator.