An Act to amend the Judges Act (bilingualism)

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.

Sponsor

François Choquette  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Introduced, as of Oct. 31, 2017
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Judges Act to specify that, in certain cases, in order to be appointed as a judge of the superior court of a province, a person must be able to speak clearly in and fully understand both official languages.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Official LanguagesAdjournment Proceedings

November 2nd, 2017 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again on the subject of the Official Languages Act and respect for our official language minority communities across the country.

On June 1, I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage about her rather dismal record when it comes to official languages. A number of issues were raised, including the partisan appointment of Madeleine Meilleur, which was quite a fiasco. Despite all her great qualities, Ms. Meilleur was not the right choice for the position of Commissioner of Official Languages. She finally came to that conclusion herself and withdrew. Another issue were some errors that appeared in the French version of the Prime Minister's biography, not to mention the fact that the use of French is dwindling in the public service. A report was recently published about that.

Let us talk about the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. For nearly four days, we had no Commissioner of Official Languages. That is unbelievable. June 17 was the end of the interim commissioner's mandate, and during all that time, we had no idea what was happening. Parliamentarians and Canadians had no Commissioner of Official Languages to address their concerns to. It was a dark time in the history of official languages, and right on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, which is coming up next year.

Four days later, the Minister of Heritage finally decided to extend the mandate of Ghislaine Saikaley, the acting commissioner of official languages. She has a new six-month contract now that the first six-month acting period has ended. The Minister of Canadian Heritage seemed to indicate that it would take roughly four months for everything to be resolved. July, August, September, and October have passed. We should have a new official languages commissioner by now, but we do not. Today, November 2, we still do not have any news about the process for appointing the official languages commissioner. The deadline is fast approaching and there is no progress, unfortunately.

What is more, the use of French is declining in the public service. This year, the commissioner received three times as many complaints about linguistic requirement violations in the federal public service. The absence of bilingualism in some management or supervisory positions prevents public servants from working in French. This is quite serious. I could go on about this because there is a lot to say on the matter, but since I am running out of time I will talk about something very serious that happened last week.

After supporting the bill on the bilingualism of Supreme Court justices three times, the Liberals unfortunately decided to vote against it now that they are in power. It is incomprehensible. They have no reason to oppose a bill that seeks to enhance the appointment criteria for Supreme Court justices to make sure they understand both French and English, the two official languages. That is why I have introduced two more bills, Bills C-381 and C-382, that seek to improve access to justice in both official languages.

Judges ActRoutine Proceedings

October 31st, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-381, An Act to amend the Judges Act (bilingualism).

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce a second bill, an act to amend the Judges Act with regard to bilingualism. This bill is very important and it responds to the recommendations of Graham Fraser, the former official languages commissioner, who issued a report in 2013 entitled “Access to Justice in Both Official Languages: Improving the Bilingual Capacity of the Superior Court Judiciary”. When I met the commissioner in early 2015, he told me that he had tabled this report but that the Conservatives had shelved it. He asked me to dust it off and do something with it.

I decided to move forward. I am therefore introducing this bill and hoping that the Liberals will implement it, since it seeks to replace the existing system in which judges evaluate their own mastery of the two official languages with an evaluation by the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, as recommended by the Commissioner of Official Languages. Everyone knows that self-evaluation does not work and that a formal assessment is needed.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)