Canadian Supreme Court Case Study

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The Supreme Court of Canada was created by legislation passed by Parliament in 1875, but did not become Canada's final court of appeal until 1949. The power allocated to the Supreme Court of Canada concedes court decisions to be binding on all levels of court in the country in order to create a unifying influence on law. Accordingly, the decisions rendered by the Supreme Court of Canada directly affect the law that governs Canadian society. As the final court of appeal and the highest legal authority in the Canadian justice system, should the Supreme Court justices be required to understand both official languages in Canada? Indeed, it must be a required qualification for the Supreme Court justices to be proficient in both English and French.…show more content…
In addition, section 530 of the Criminal Code guarantees the right of the accused "to be tried by a judge in the official language of his or her choice" (Hudon, 2011, "Bilingualism in the Federal Courts"). Moreover, the Official Languages Act of 1988 recognizes the right of parties before the Supreme Court in two distinct parts. Part I of the Official Languages Act includes sections 6 and 9, and emphasize previous legislation, requiring Parliament to enact, print, and publish legislation in both official languages, as well as obligating the federal court to make, print, and publish "all rules, order, and regulations governing the proceedings" in both English and French, respectively (Hudon, 2011, "Bilingualism in the Federal Courts"). Part II of the same instrument includes sections 14,15,16, and 20, and uphold previous legislation, as section 14 states both English and French may be used before the Court because they are recognized as "the official languages of the federal courts"; section 15 recognizes the right of all witnesses to be heard in the official language of their choice or, in certain circumstances, be provided…show more content…
For example, the Supreme Court rendered a total of 62 judgments in 2009, of which, 22 were "entirely or partly in French, including many cases originating from outside Quebec" (Grammond, S. & Power, M., 2013, p. 51). Moreover, the Canadian population is represented as seventy-five percent anglophone (22.5 million) and twenty-five percent francophone (7.5 million) (L'Heureux-Dubé, 2002, p. 451). Thus, there is sufficient demand for cases to be heard in French. By instilling bilingual values, developed by the implementation of institutional and social legitimacy, the Court would gain legitimacy. First, "institutional legitimacy requires that the constitutional court be perceived as being impartial and independent" (Brouillet, E. & Tanguay Y., 2013, p. 129). The composition of the court is relevant in the given context and can be analyzed by three angles, two of which are relevant: pluralism, and representativeness (Brouillet, E. & Tanguay Y., 2013, p. 129). Pluralism requires "that a single line of thought or sensitivity not be exclusively represented, otherwise such judicial authority would have no real legitimacy", whereas representativeness "evokes the variety inherent in society, whether national, cultural, linguistic or otherwise, in the make up of the constitutional court"

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