February 23, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

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Judicial Errors Review Commission |  Commissioners do not have to be bilingual

Judicial Errors Review Commission | Commissioners do not have to be bilingual

(Ottawa) Commissioners sitting on new Commission to Investigate Judicial Errors not required to speak and understand French and English fluently.


Elected officials sitting on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Thursday, six to five, opposed a bloc of Quebecois amendments intended to include this provision on bilingualism in the bill.

More specifically, four Conservative MPs and an NDP MP rejected the proposal. Among the Liberals, four MPs voted in favor, namely Quebecers Elizabeth Pryor, Anju Dhillon and Anthony Housefather, and Ontarian Marco Mendicino. But their Ontario colleague James Maloney stood out and his vote was decisive.

“Therefore, we are abandoning bilingualism in Canada,” tweeted Black justice spokesman Rhéal Éloi Fortin when the decision was announced. “It's impossible,” said Mr. Mendicino said.

In a press release, MP Fortin deplored “once again” French being treated as a “second-class language” in “a country that should be bilingual”.

During a very brief debate on the motion, Mr. Fortin argued that “if we want everyone to have access to fair judicial review”, there should be “a minimum” of commissioners playing a quasi-judicial role. Can work “effectively” in both official languages.

New Democrat Randall Garrison was the only other elected official asked to speak. According to him, the amendment would have “unintended consequences” because it would prevent “monolingual francophones” and “for example French and Cree” speaking tribes from being appointed as commissioners. At no point does he refer to monolingual English speakers.

The commission will provide bilingual services and translation services, Mr. Garrison noted. “So it will be a commission that will function in both the official languages,” he added. But when you appoint nine commissioners, some full-time and some part-time, I think it restricts the board (of commissioners) too much. »

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The Conservative Party of Canada did not respond by the time of publication to a request for comment from The Canadian Press seeking to explain the vote of all its MPs sitting on the committee.

The bill, which has been debated under the nickname C-40, passed committee stage at the end of Thursday's meeting.

It provides for the creation of an independent commission to review, investigate and decide which criminal cases should be referred to court. The purpose is to facilitate and expedite the processing of applications from Canadians who claim to be victims of miscarriages of justice.

Former Justice Minister David Lametty, an early sponsor, said he hoped it would make the amendments more accessible to women, indigenous peoples and racist Canadians.

The law was named “David and Joyce Milgard's Law” in honor of the Canadian, who was released in 1992 after 23 years of wrongful imprisonment, and his mother, Joyce, who tirelessly fought for his release over the years.