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Trudeau did not make a mistake by appointing a unilingual lieutenant-governor to New Brunswick

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Lisa Denis in Ottawa

Published on May 23

  • Canada

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, did not make a mistake by appointing a unilingual person to the post of lieutenant governor of New Brunswick, the province's Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday. The court thus overturns a decision of the Court of King's Bench, which had declared the appointment of Brenda Murphy unconstitutional.

If it would be “desirable”, even “ideal » that the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick speaks “fluently in both official languages ​​of her province”, her appointment “does not contravene s. 16 (2)” of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, wrote Chief Justice Marc Richard.

“Even if we assume that the institution of lieutenant governor cannot be totally dissociated from the person who embodies it, […] the failure of a lieutenant governor to master the two official languages ​​does not affect equality of status, rights and privileges regarding their use within the institution. […] In other words, these are measures to be put in place within institutions and not about requiring bilingualism from anyone. »

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This judgment is a real setback for the Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick (SANB), which the Court of King’s Bench ruled in favor two years ago. “We will use all legal recourses at our disposal to defend the rights of the Acadian and francophone community of New Brunswick,” reacted in a press release the interim president of the SANB, Nicole Arseneau-Sluyter. The Company will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Two years ago, the Court of King's Bench concluded that “the holder of the office of lieutenant- Governor of New Brunswick is himself an “institution” and that he must be bilingual”. The designation in 2019 of a unilingual English speaker in the only bilingual province in the country was therefore unconstitutional.

According to the SANB, “the lieutenant governor has a duty to interact regularly with the public in both official languages”, and the “presence, in New Brunswick, of a unilingual English-speaking head of state creates a discriminatory distinction which is felt by members of the French linguistic community”, summarizes the judge Richard.

But the Liberal government, which committed to no longer appointing a unilingual person to this position, appealed the decision, arguing that “the provisions which […] confer the power of appointment do not provide for any bilingualism requirement.” A reaction deemed “inconsistent” by the SANB, which had aroused the anger of three New Brunswick Liberal MPs, René Arseneault, Serge Cormier and Jenica Atwin.

At the time these lines were written, Justin Trudeau's cabinet had not responded to the questions of Devoir.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116