THE COURT is the online resource for debate & data about the Supreme Court of Canada.*

Archive For Entries On Official Languages

Approaching Minority Language Educational Rights Differently: Association des parents de l’école Rose-des-vents v British Columbia (Education)

The case Association des parents de l’école Rose-des-vents v British Columbia (Education), 2015 SCC 21 [Rose-des-Vents] represents an interesting example of a new generation of issues related to minority language educational rights that Canadian courts are brought to resolve on the basis of s.23 of the Charter. This provision is “designed to correct and prevent […]

Minority Language Education Entitlements & The Meaning of Substantive Equality under Section 23 of the Charter

Ass’n des parents de l’école Rose-des-vents v. British Columbia, 2015 SCC 21 [Rose-des vents] opens up a new series of questions surrounding minority language education rights guaranteed under Section 23 of the Charter. Section 23 guarantees minority language rights holders the right to have their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in English or French, giving effect to the […]

7UP for Your Rights: Thibodeau v Air Canada

In what has been dubbed “the 7UP case,” a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) has ruled in Thibodeau v Air Canada, 2014 SCC 67, that Michel and Lynda Thibodeau are not entitled to a damage award that would have required Air Canada to take steps to ensure compliance with the Official Languages […]

Alberta Has No Constitutional Obligation to Publish Its Legislation in French: R v Caron

In 2003, Mr. Caron was issued a traffic ticket for making an illegal left hand turn. Rather than simply paying the fine, Mr. Caron sought to challenge the ticket on the ground that the ticket was issued in English only, and thus violated the province of Alberta’s constitutional obligation to publish its legislation in both […]

Nguyen v. Quebec and Suspended Declarations of Constitutional Invalidity

Based on the outcry from all sides of the political spectrum, it is no wonder that the Supreme Court of Canada took a middle-of-the-road approach in its decision in Nguyen v. Quebec (Education, Recreation and Sports), 2009 SCC 47. (A comprehensive factual background of the case was provided on in May 2008 by representatives […]

Bill C-232: Should Bilingualism be Required at the SCC?

On Monday, March 23rd, the House of Commons debated Bill C-232, an NDP impetus to require that Supreme Court justices have knowledge of English and French. The bill, tabled by New Democrat Official Languages Critic Yvon Godin, proposes that section 5 of the Supreme Court Act ( R.S., 1985, c. S-26 ) be amended to […]

SCC Provides Guidance on Language Equality: DesRochers v Canada

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) released their decision in DesRochers v Canada (Industry), 2009 SCC 8 [DesRochers]. In it, the top court opines on the nature and scope of the obligations placed on federal government institutions by the Official Languages Act, RSC 1985, c 31 (4th Supp) [OLA]. Facts Industry Canada has economic development […]

Should Supreme Court judges be required to be bilingual?

What is justice if you cannot make yourself heard properly? What is justice when an ill-informed person determines your fate? We can all attest to it: even people who share a language occasionally have difficulty understanding each other. Languages are alive. They are characterized by nuances and subtleties which vary, namely, according to cultural references […]

Judicial Bilingualism Is Good, But It’s Not Everything

MP Dennis Coderre’s recent bill tabled in the House of Commons, Bill C-548, “An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (understanding the official languages – judges of the Supreme Court of Canada),” proposes to amend s.16 of the Act so that Supreme Court justices are required to be bilingual (similar to the requirement for […]

Should Supreme Court Justices Have to be Bilingual?

In a bilingual country such as Canada, effective statutory interpretation demands a command of both official languages. Indeed, it is commonplace for judges and lawyers alike to either substantiate or problematize a particular line of statutory interpretation in one official language by looking to the text of the statute in the other. The prevalence of […]