The Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada has published a study on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages: Improving the Bilingual Capacity of the Superior Court Judiciary
"For superior courts and courts of appeal to be able to respect the
language rights of litigants, it is therefore essential for the federal
Minister of Justice to appoint an appropriate number of bilingual judges
with the language skills necessary to preside over cases in the
minority official language. Currently, the institutional bilingual
capacity of the superior courts remains a challenge in a number of
provinces and territories. Another challenge lies in judges' ability to
maintain their language skills at a level that is sufficient to preside
over a hearing in their second official language (...)"
"The study looked at the appointment processes for the superior courts
of six provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba
and Alberta. It also took into account certain practices for appointing
provincial judges in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba."
the consultations conducted as part of the study, it was determined
that the judicial appointment process does not guarantee sufficient
bilingual capacity among the judiciary to respect the language rights of
Canadians at all times."
"This finding is based on three key
observations. First, there is no objective analysis of needs in terms of
access to the superior courts in both official languages in the
different districts and regions of the country. Second, there is no
coordinated action on the part of the federal Minister of Justice, his
provincial and territorial counterparts and the chief justices of the
superior courts to establish a process that would ensure, at all times,
that an appropriate number of bilingual judges are appointed. Finally,
the evaluation of superior court judicial candidates does not allow for
an objective verification of the language skills of candidates who
identify themselves as being able to preside over proceedings in their
"In light of these findings, the study outlines courses of action to improve the bilingual capacity of superior court judges."
Labels: access to justice, courts, official languages