VERY interesting!

Alberta appeals language rights ruling

July 24, 2008
Alberta appeals language rights ruling

Edmonton... The Alberta government is appealing a court decision that found Alberta’s Languages Act and Traffic Safety Act to be invalid as they apply to Gilles Caron.

On July 2, Provincial Court Judge Leo Wenden found Caron not guilty of making an unsafe left turn. The not guilty verdict was given because Caron’s ticket was not printed in French. The decision has no binding effect on other defendants or other legislation.

The Alberta government is seeking legal certainty and clarity from the court on this important matter that has significant ramifications to the province’s laws. Alberta believes the judge erred in law when he found Caron not guilty and is appealing the verdict on that basis.

A Supreme Court of Canada decision in 1988 ruled that the provinces had the power to determine their own language rights legislation. Under Alberta’s Languages Act, French can be spoken in the Legislature and in oral communications in court proceedings, but all legislation and regulations are enacted, printed and published in English.

To ensure access to justice, Alberta’s courts have services available for people who do not speak English. Under the Criminal Code, defendants appearing on criminal matters are provided bilingual or French language trials at their request, but language services are also available for provincial matters. The courts provide interpreters for a number of different languages and when given sufficient notice can provide a French speaking prosecutor and judge for trials.

A 90-day stay on the original decision was issued on July 2 and remains in place. Alberta’s traffic rules will continue to be enforced.
No date has been set for the appeal.