Parlez Vous Francais?

In the Spring of this year, a New Democrat Member of Parliament from Quebec introduced a Bill in the House of Commons. The Bill called for a change in the law such that all judges appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada would be fully bilingual, French and English. Translation services would no longer be provided.

The Bill just passed with the combined support of the Liberals, New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois. No Conservative voted in favour of the amendment.

From there, the Bill was sent to the Senate for a vote, which has not yet been held.

The professional organization that represents Canadian lawyers is meeting this week in Niagra Falls, Ontario. A lawyer from Alberta brought forward a resolution at the Canadian Bar Association’s annual meeting, urging the Senate to defeat the Bill. The resolution passed with significant support.

So, why does the Bar believe that the Bill should not be passed ? For several very good reasons
including the reality that fine legal minds with acknowledged expertise could be overlooked if they do not speak both of Canada’s official languages.

Our current Chief Justice Madam Justice McLachlan would not have been appointed to our highest court if the law at the time prescribed an ability to hear cases in both French and English.

The Supreme Court of Canada represents all of Canada with sitting judges who hail from western, prairie and eastern provinces. The chances of maintaining a balanced court would be jeopardized if the Bill were to become law.

Aboriginal leader Phil Fontaine described the Bill as “elitist”. At its most base level, the Bill suggests that Quebecers are advancing this legislation in the hope that their interests will be better served.

As it is, most of the appointees to this prestigious and learned group of legal scholars learn to speak French after their appointment. It seems to have worked well in the past and there is no good reason to change it.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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4 thoughts on “Parlez Vous Francais?

  1. Hello!I am reading your posts for many days now. I have to say that it is very easy to read . It is already in my favourite list and i will make sure that i will follow it when possible . Thanks for the nice posts . Furthermore, i really like your template and the way you have organised the contents of your site . Can i ask the name of your template ? Cheers

  2. been reading your blog around a few days. really enjoy your posts. btw i am conducting a study about this subject. do you know any good blogs or online forums in which I can get more information? thanks a lot.

  3. Heidy I am not aware of other blogs that have information on this topic. What I would do is contact the NDP Member of Parliament (at the NDP’s National Office ) who brought the bill forward and request a copy of his submissions and obtain further information.

    You may also want to check the on line archives of the National Post, the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen. Good luck with your research and your study.

    Best regards,

    Georgialee Lang

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