French language: The Chief Justice is still attacking Minister Jolin-Barrette

The chief justice of the Quebec Court of Justice is launching a new battle against Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette to secure the French language charter amendments that prevent the bilingualism requirement to become a judge from being removed.

• Also read: Quebec will ban the systematic appointment of bilingual judges

• Also read: Support against the bilingualism of the judges of the Quebec Court

“The administration of an effective, credible, impartial, honest and accessible judiciary depends on it,” according to a civil complaint released Thursday at the Montreal courthouse.

In the court document, Chief Justice Lucie Rondeau accused Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, who is responsible for both justice and the protection of the French language, of “evading” a judgment handed down in February. The court then declared the minister’s attempt to ban the quasi-systematic requirement for bilingualism for judges of the Quebec Court to be “illegal”.

Simon Jolin Barrette

Archive photo, Didier Debusschère

Simon Jolin Barrette


This decision was not appealed. Instead, the minister pushed for a reform of the French language charter to prevent a judge’s candidate from speaking “other than the official language”. The only way to circumvent this requirement is to obtain ministerial approval.

And that’s not what the Chief Justice wants.

“Without question, the Chief Justice or Associate Chief Justice is the only person who can determine whether such a request is proper,” the court document said.

The English of course

To support her motion, the Chief Justice released several statistics from a survey of judges showing that English is used daily in several Quebec regions, particularly in Montreal and the Outaouais, but also in Estrie and Montérégie.

“English proficiency is also required in certain regions to meet the needs of First Nations and Inuit people,” the civil lawsuit states.

Thus, a judge who does not speak English could be “very difficult to deal with several types of cases” while being the source of delays that “directly affect the population”, we can read in the court document.

Under the pretext that she had no other choice “to protect the basic principles of our democratic society,” she therefore filed the lawsuit on her own behalf, but also on behalf of the Judicial Council. The parties also include Deputy Chief Justice of the Quebec Court of Justice Scott Hugues and Deputy Chief Justice of the Quebec Court of Justice Claudie Bélanger.

The appeal for judicial review will shortly be presented to a judge of the Superior Court of Quebec.

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