Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable senators, I am thrilled to have some good news to share with you this evening. Our former colleagues, retired senators Maria Chaput and Claudette Tardif, will be honoured this week by the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, or FCFA, which is awarding them the 2018 Boréal prize. This prize is given to individuals or groups who have made outstanding contributions to the development and vitality of francophone and Acadian communities.
To anyone who has worked with these two extraordinary women, this honour from the FCFA will come as no surprise. These women made it their life’s work to promote and protect the French language here in Canada. Their contributions to the cause have had a lasting impact that is still felt today.
During her time in the Senate, Senator Chaput vigorously defended the rights of linguistic minorities, especially the rights of minority francophones in Manitoba and across Canada. During her term as chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, the committee produced a tremendous number of comprehensive reports. Furthermore, she introduced four bills in the space of five years aimed at modernizing the rules governing communications and services to the public under the Official Languages Act.
Likewise, as I said on the occasion of her retirement, Senator Tardif has also been a strong advocate for the cultural and language rights of minority francophones across Canada, especially in Alberta. She too chaired the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages for several years, where she was instrumental in preparing many reports on various subjects. The FCFA credits her leadership for the study being conducted right now on the modernization of the Official Languages Act.
On behalf of the Independent Liberal senators, I want to congratulate Senators Chaput and Tardif and wish them every success in the future.