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Public Law

Linguistic Rights

We are language rights advocates. Our lawyers have been involved in some of the leading language rights cases, including Lalonde v. Ontario (the Montfort Hospital case), DesRochers v. Canada, and Thibodeau v. Air Canada.

In Lalonde, Ron Caza successfully argued that the Montfort Hospital was important as an institution to the survival of the Franco-Ontarian minority. In the landmark decision of DesRochers, Ron Caza successfully argued before the Supreme Court of Canada that services and institutions which are essential to the survival of minority communities must be offered by taking into consideration the specific needs of the members of the affected minority.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Official Languages Act, the French Language Service Act, among others, guarantee certain rights for Canada’s official language communities.  Outside of Quebec, the francophone minority enjoys linguistic rights that impact on the language of education, government services, legislation and court proceedings.

These laws grant French and English the equal status of official language and guarantee equality of use of both languages in the institutions of the Canadian parliament and government. They also guarantee members of the public the right to communicate with and to receive services from institutions of the Canadian parliament and government in the official language of their choice. This right applies to institutions located in the national capital and in any head or central office of these institutions anywhere in Canada. It also applies to any office serving a region where there is significant demand for such services and to offices whose vocation justifies the use of both official languages.

Outside of Quebec, people whose first language learned and still understood is French or who received their primary school instruction in French, have the right to have their children receive French-language education provided that the number of such individuals warrants the provision of French-language education out of public funds.

Francophones outside Quebec have the right to proceed in French in:

  • Courts created by the federal Parliament, including administrative tribunals that have quasi-judicial functions
  • Criminal proceedings
  • Most proceedings before the courts of Ontario
  • In some cases, in administrative tribunals established by the government of Ontario

We represent and advise individuals and organizations regarding their language rights and the protection of the institutions of minority communities.  Our commitment to language rights means that we are prepared to take certain cases on a pro bono basis.  Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Our Team

Michel Bastarache, C.C., Q.C.

Counsel

Albert Brunet

Lawyer

Ronald F. Caza

Partner

Charles R. Daoust

Lawyer

Érik Labelle Eastaugh, D.Phil.

Counsel

Geneviève Therrien

Lawyer

Alyssa Tomkins

Partner