A Quebec organization in turn filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Official Languages ​​of Canada. He says he is ready to sue the Supreme Court if necessary.

The Supreme Court of Canada building at the end of a spring day.

An organization filed a second complaint about the unilingual decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Photo: Radio-United States / Benoit Roussel

Dissatisfied with the Supreme Court’s inaction regarding its obligations under the Official Languages ​​Act (New window) (LLO), a Quebec organization has filed a new complaint on this subject with the Commissioner of Official Languages ​​(CLO), of which Radio-United States has obtained a copy. Collective Rights Quebec is even ready to sue the highest court in the country to force it to respect its obligations.

This new effort comes more than three years after a Montreal lawyer complained about the lack of translation into both official languages ​​for all Supreme Court decisions rendered before the entry into force of the LLO in 1970 and available online.

THE CLO then agreed with him by considering that the online offer of decisions constitutes a communication to the public made by a federal institution and therefore had to be offered in French and English.

Despite the Commissioner’s decision, the Supreme Court has still not translated its decisions, under the pretext that it does not have the financial, human and time resources.

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Faced with this lack of measures from the court to comply with the commissioner’s recommendation, Droits collectives Québec decided to file a complaint with the CLO. This new complaint is based on the same facts as the complaint from the Montreal lawyer.

Why then file a second complaint about a situation which has already been the subject of a decision and a recommendation from the CLO? The answer can be found in Part LLO on legal remedies.

We cannot pursue a federal proceeding under the Official Languages ​​Act before having initiated and completed a process with the Commissioner of Official Languages, so that is what we do.

A quote from Étienne-Alexis Boucher, general director of Collective Rights Quebec

The organization says it is ready to use this part of the LLO to file a lawsuit in federal court to enforce language rights. Its director general, Étienne-Alexis Boucher, ardently wishes that the highest court in the country submits to its linguistic obligations without the need for an appeal.

A man wearing a gray jacket and dark shirt sits at a wooden picnic table and reads a document.

The general director of Droits collectives Québec, Etienne-Alexis Boucher, says he is ready to use all the remedies provided for in the Official Languages ​​Act in order to enforce linguistic rights.

Photo: Radio-United States

He also notes that such an appeal could potentially end up before the Supreme Court which would then be judge and party. Étienne-Alexis Boucher maintains that the Court must comply with the rules and he recalls that this court forced Manitoba to translate all of its laws into French in 1985 in order to respect its constitutional law.

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According to Droits collectives Québec, the Supreme Court must respect the LLO which was deemed quasi-constitutional.

The Supreme Court must respect the rule of law.

A quote from Étienne-Alexis Boucher, general director of Collective Rights Quebec

The Supreme Court of Canada declined to comment on this matter, noting that it could be the subject of an appeal. For its part, the CLO is unable to grant an interview on this subject since an investigation is underway.

An initiative that receives support

This new attempt to push the highest court in the country to translate all of its decisions receives support from French-speaking jurists.

A man wearing a gray jacket and white shirt and a beard looks to the left.

The president of the Federation of Associations of French-speaking Common Law Jurists, Justin Kingston, does not rule out the possibility of taking part in a possible appeal before the courts.

Photo: Radio-United States

The president of the Federation of Associations of French-speaking Jurists of common lawJustin Kingstonemphasizes that the objective of the recent update of the LLO was precisely to give more recourse to litigants and more teeth to this law.

It does not close the door to taking part in a possible appeal before the Federal Court.

I think we would be interested in becoming speakers, but that would be something we would need to analyze with a little more time.

A quote from Justin Kingstonpresident of the Federation of Associations of French-speaking Jurists of common law

Fransaskois constitutional lawyer Roger Lepage has repeatedly defended the rights of the French-speaking linguistic minority outside Quebec.

He notes that, as things stand, a lawyer may be forced to translate certain key Supreme Court decisions handed down before 1970 that are still invoked in court. He believes that these translations would be useful for lawyers who must consult or rely on these decisions.

The Fransaskois lawyer also believes that he has no problem with the Supreme Court possibly looking into this question if an appeal is filed and appealed to it.

He recalls that the highest court had to interpret the law on its own composition when the government of Stephen Harper wanted to appoint Justice Nadon to the Supreme Court. This set a precedent that could apply to a potential legal challenge.

Without commenting on the legal value of the arguments that Droits collectives Québec could propose, Roger Lepage believes that this issue should not only be considered from a legal point of view.

The political solution would rather be for the Canadian government to grant an additional budget to the Supreme Court and require it to translate all its old decisions.

A quote from Roger Lepage, constitutional lawyer

In a written statement, the office of the Minister of Official Languages, Randy Boissonnault, indicates that he does not want to comment on the complaint and that he is letting the commissioner do his work. However, he specifies that he expects that federal institutions respect their official languages ​​obligations. He also points out that the most recent budget includes an envelope of $9.6 million to increase the capacity of the Courts Administration Service to provide translated decisions for the federal courts.

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