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2014 02 27
Bilingualism must be essential condition for appointment of Supreme Court judges

Concerned with ensuring respect for official languages and their equality of status within the judicial system, New Democrats are continuing their efforts to make bilingualism an essential condition for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

“The Supreme Court exists to serve all Canadians regardless of whether their first language is French or English,” said Official Languages critic Yvon Godin (Acadie-Bathurst). “I won’t back down on this. It’s a matter of equality for both official languages and equal access to justice.” 

Godin launched a campaign today to promote his bill – tabled for the third time in the House of Commons. An online petition will circulate among stakeholders in the areas of official languages and access to justice. Godin will also visit Canadian universities where he will promote his bill to students and community members.  

Thanks to the NDP’s efforts, the House of Commons already adopted a similar bill (C-419) making bilingualism an essential criterion for hiring officers of Parliament. Numerous stakeholders have already publicly supported the bilingual requirement for Supreme Court judges, including the Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser, the Quebec Bar, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes, and several language rights experts.

“This government showed in the case of C-419 that it can work with the opposition to advance official languages. I invite it to do the same with my bill. It’s time for bilingualism to be added to the selection criteria for Supreme Court judges,” added Godin.   

Online petition: http://petition.ndp.ca/supreme-court-judges-must-be-bilingual

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Thomas Mulcair