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June 13th, 2011

Yvon Godin reintroduces bill on the understanding of official languages by Supreme Court judges

OTTAWA – The New Democrat Critic for Official Languages, Yvon Godin (Acadie–Bathurst), will reintroduce his bill requiring Supreme Court judges to understand both official languages today in the House of Commons. The bill ensures that future judges appointed to the Supreme Court would be selected from candidates able to understand both English and French without the assistance of an interpreter.

“A duty to ensure understanding of both official languages is a principle that applies to all other federal courts, and for good reason. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which has been ratified by Canada, states that all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. There is no reason for the Supreme Court of Canada to be an exception. There are enough competent, bilingual candidates who can ensure Canadians receive fairer treatment at the Supreme Court – and there will be even more once universities adjust their programs,” stated Godin.

While translation and interpretation services are essential, they cannot substitute for a judge’s basic understanding in this context. “We know the Prime Minister has to appoint at least four, and perhaps as many as seven, out of nine judges during his mandate. He needs to take this opportunity to put both English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians on equal footing before the courts – showing respect for both the law and, most importantly, Francophone and Anglophone citizens,” declared Godin.

It should not be forgotten that Conservative senators delayed the progress of Bill C-232 in the Senate in the last parliamentary session for partisan reasons. “I call on all members of Parliament to support this bill so that it can finally move forward and so every Canadian receives fair treatment before the Supreme Court,” concluded Godin.