moved that Bill C-203, An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour for me to rise today to introduce and speak to Bill C-203, an act to amend the Supreme Court Act, understanding the official languages. I am very proud to do that today, and I will explain why in a moment. I am following in the footsteps of many others who came before me and fought for Supreme Court judges to be bilingual. I will talk about who the biggest champion of this cause has been. It is quite the challenge for me to continue this fight, but it is also an honour and a privilege to do so.
I am speaking today about my bill, Bill C-203, which has to do with the bilingualism of Supreme Court judges. In short, this bill amends the Supreme Court Act and introduces a new requirement for judges appointed to the Supreme Court to understand French and English without the assistance of an interpreter. I will explain why this is so important.
This legislation would provide everyone with better access to justice in the official language of their choice. I will come back to that to explain other aspects of this bill.
First, I will say that access to justice in both official languages is an important concept that affects every official language community across Canada. Ever since I was appointed official languages critic for the NDP, I have had the opportunity to travel all over Canada and meet representatives of official language communities. They tell me how important it is to have access to justice. Access to health care in one's language is also very important. Nonetheless, access to justice is one of the most important issues.
This issue has long been championed by the NDP. In fact, I followed with interest the work of an NDP legend. Of course I am talking about the former NDP member for Acadie—Bathurst, Yvon Godin.