Originally Posted by ReutersTraffic tickets spark language debate in Canada
Web posted at: 6/21/2005 3:14:45
Source ::: Reuters
OTTAWA: The merits of bilingualism are once again being hotly debated in western Canada after a judge recently quashed a handful of traffic tickets given to residents of Winnipeg’s French quarter because they where not fully bilingual.
The judge ruled Friday that nine speeding tickets handed out last year to six residents of the St Boniface neighborhood — the largest francophone community in the country outside of Quebec — should have been printed in French and English in accordance with provincial language laws.
In practical terms, it simply means the city must print a new batch of bilingual tickets. But it has also awakened some strong emotions nearly three decades after similar cases split the local English and French communities.
In 1976, insurance broker George Forest fought a parking ticket all the way to Canada’s Supreme Court on the grounds that the ticket should have been printed in both English and French. Three years later, his victory forced the Manitoba government to recognize francophone language rights that had been guaranteed when the province joined Confederation in 1870, but were ignored since 1890.
Subsequently, the provincial government translated all its statutes and other official documents into French, and began offering most services in French.Ramses posted a scan of the story in French printed in the Journal de Montreal last Saturday. Here's the English version for anyone who cares.Originally Posted by Generic News ServiceManitoba judge dismisses traffic tickets in language-rights case
WINNIPEG (CP) - A Manitoba judge has thrown out traffic charges against six residents of Winnipeg's French quarter because the tickets were not bilingual.
Provincial court Judge Glenn Joyal ruled the tickets violated the City of Winnipeg charter. It requires that municipal services and correspondence be in both official languages for residents of the Riel district - a large area encompassing most of Winnipeg's southeast quadrant.
"The city did not take the necessary measures to respect its obligation to make the information notices fully bilingual," Joyal said in a written decision Friday.
"It is interesting to ask how a member of an anglophone minority would react if the situation was reversed . . . if he was told that despite the fact he lives in a designated zone, the promise of equal access and comparable quality can still result in a different and lesser service."
Most of the text in the traffic tickets was filled out in French and English. But some areas, such as the description of the vehicle and the due date for the fine, were only in English.
Members of the city's francophone community were pleased, but said the court fight over the language issue should not have been necessary.
"We are returning again to the courts to have to assert our right to French-language services," said Marc Boily, one of the six accused.
"There is a hostility towards us . . . and it just does not seem to have sunk into people in power that our rights have to be respected."
The Societe franco-manitobaine, the province's largest French-language lobby group, said the ruling could set a precedent for libraries, recreation programs and other municipal services, which, under the city's charter, are supposed to be bilingual.
Societe president Daniel Boucher said those services are readily available in French in the central part of the district, but some residents have complained that services are sporadic in outlying areas and new subdivisions.
The councillor who represents the heart of French-speaking Winnipeg defended the city's record.
"The Riel ward has always been a bilingual ward as long as I can remember," said Franco Magnifico, councillor for St. Boniface.
"We offer services in both languages in that ward."
Magnifico said the problem with the traffic tickets was something that "slipped through the cracks" and is one which can be easily remedied.
But another councillor said it remains unclear whether the court ruling means every resident of the Riel district can now tear up any traffic tickets.
"That's what you worry about," said Gord Steeves, whose St. Vital ward is also in the Riel district.
Steeves acknowledged there are complaints about French-language services in his area.
"The Louis Riel library in St. Vital does have a decent French component, there's no question about that," he said. "But it's not at quite the same level as St. Boniface."
The Crown has 30 days to decide whether it will appeal the ruling.
Boily said the court fight is about much more than a traffic ticket.
"Our rights have to be respected. The gradual erosion leads to people just getting fed up and having to function in the majority language.
"Assimilation is a problem."