Quebec law group questions Supreme Court pick
Michael Moldaver is seen in this undated image.
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, October 18, 2011 1:04PM EDT
MONTREAL - The Quebec Bar Association is asking the Harper government to reconsider its appointment of a unilingual judge to the Supreme Court of Canada.
It decries the nomination of Justice Michael Moldaver, who does not speak French.
The bar association says Canadian citizens have the right to expect that, when they appear in court, they will be understood regardless of what official language they speak.
It says it would still oppose the nomination if Moldaver only spoke French -- not English. The association says the issue here is that a nominee to the high court should be able to understand arguments in both official languages.
Yesterday's nomination has intensified a debate over bilingualism in the justice system.
Opponents of mandatory bilingualism say what matters most is that a judge can understand the law -- and, if there's a problem with language, the court has translation services.
But the bar association says that's not fair; it says an earpiece and interpreter are no substitute for understanding someone directly when they're arguing in court.
The association says this appointment means two of the Supreme Court's nine judges are now unilingual.