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QUESTION PERIOD — Ministry of Canadian Heritage—Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Appointment of a Unilingual Lieutenant-Governor

May 11, 2022

Hon. Rose-May Poirier [ - ]

Good afternoon minister, and thank you for being with us.

On April 14, 2022, the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick ruled that the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick must be bilingual and be able to perform all of the duties of that role in both French and English.

The last time French-speaking minorities won a case, which was last January with regard to Part VII of the Official Languages Act, your government was going to appeal.

Could you tell us today whether the federal government intends to appeal the April 14 ruling?

Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P., Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency [ - ]

Thank you very much, senator. It’s always a pleasure to see senators from New Brunswick. Thank you for your work.

Once again, Justice DeWare’s ruling is currently being analyzed by the Minister of Justice. It is being reviewed.

As I mentioned, the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, Ms. Murphy, is a woman who has served her community and province for many years. She made a clear commitment to becoming proficient in French.

As for the appeal court ruling, the Minister of Justice is reviewing the decision and we hope to give you an update about the next steps as soon as possible.

Minister, the decision is dated April 14. The deadline for appealing is May 16. It is now May 11. Having worked in private practice, I know that it takes time to prepare an appeal. I have a hard time believing that, today, you don’t know whether you’re going to appeal. I believe that you are holding something back.

I will help you and persuade you not to appeal. The judge states the following on page 41 of the ruling:

In circumstances where members of one of the two constitutionally recognized linguistic communities are unable to interact directly, in their language, with the head of state — how can that be considered equality of both linguistic communities?

Do you agree with this statement? If you do, the case should not be appealed.

Ms. Petitpas Taylor [ - ]

Thank you very much, senator.

As I clearly stated, I don’t know what decision the Minister of Justice will make on this matter. I can’t give you any information in reply to this specific question.

I can tell you that the Minister of Justice is reviewing the matter. I will be happy to inform you once the decision is made. The Department of Justice will certainly take the time to study the decision and determine the next steps.

We remain committed to protecting and promoting the French language across the country and advancing linguistic duality. As Minister of Official Languages, that is truly my priority.

Concerning the bills on the Lieutenant-Governor and the Governor General that are before the Senate, we are watching their progress in the Senate to see exactly what the outcome will be.

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