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Ford v. Quebec (Attorney General)

Ford v. Quebec (Attorney General)

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Ford v. Quebec, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 712 is a landmark Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 decision in which the Court struck down part of the Charter of the French Language
Charter of the French Language
The Charter of the French Language , also known as Bill 101 and Loi 101, is a law in the province of Quebec in Canada defining French, the language of the majority of the population, as the only official language of Quebec, and framing fundamental language rights for everyone in the province...

, commonly known as Bill 101. This law had restricted the use of commercial signs written in languages other than French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. The court ruled that Bill 101 violated the freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982...

.

Background


The appeal, launched by the government of Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, consolidated many cases initiated by Montreal-area merchants such as Montreal florist Hyman Singer and West Island
West Island
The West Island is the unofficial name given to the western cities and boroughs of the Island of Montreal, in Quebec, Canada...

 wool shop owner Valerie Ford. They had been fined for violation of the Charter of the French Language
Charter of the French Language
The Charter of the French Language , also known as Bill 101 and Loi 101, is a law in the province of Quebec in Canada defining French, the language of the majority of the population, as the only official language of Quebec, and framing fundamental language rights for everyone in the province...

 and decided to fight the case in court. Following anonymous complaints, the Office québécois de la langue française
Office québécois de la langue française
The Office québécois de la langue française is a public organization established on March 24, 1961 by the Liberal government of Jean Lesage...

 had instructed them to inform and serve their customers in French and replace their bilingual French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 signs with unilingual French ones. The Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 upheld the decisions of the Quebec Superior Court
Quebec Superior Court
Quebec Superior Court is the highest trial Court in the Province of Quebec, Canada. It consists of 144 judges who are appointed by the federal government.Chief Justices : [partial listing]* Edward Bowen...

 and the Quebec Court of Appeal
Quebec Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal for Quebec is the highest judicial court in Quebec, Canada....

.

Aftermath


In late 1989, shortly after the Supreme Court's decision, premier
Premier
Premier is a title for the head of government in some countries and states.-Examples by country:In many nations, "premier" is used interchangeably with "prime minister"...

 Robert Bourassa
Robert Bourassa
Jean-Robert Bourassa, was a politician in Quebec, Canada. He served as the 22nd Premier of Quebec in two different mandates, first from May 12, 1970, to November 25, 1976, and then from December 12, 1985, to January 11, 1994, serving a total of just under 15 years as Provincial Premier.-Early...

's Liberal Party of Quebec government passed Bill 178, making minor amendments to the Charter of the French Language
Charter of the French Language
The Charter of the French Language , also known as Bill 101 and Loi 101, is a law in the province of Quebec in Canada defining French, the language of the majority of the population, as the only official language of Quebec, and framing fundamental language rights for everyone in the province...

. Recognizing that the amendments did not follow the Supreme Court's ruling, the provincial legislature invoked section 33
Section Thirty-three of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section Thirty-three of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of the Constitution of Canada. It is commonly known as the notwithstanding clause , or as the override power, and it allows Parliament or provincial legislatures to override certain portions of the Charter...

 of the Canadian Charter (also known as the notwithstanding clause) to shield Bill 178 from review by courts for five years.

This move was politically controversial, both among Quebec nationalists
Quebec nationalism
Quebec nationalism is a nationalist movement in the Canadian province of Quebec .-1534–1774:Canada was first a french colony. Jacques Cartier claimed it for France in 1534, and permanent French settlement began in 1608. It was part of New France, which constituted all French colonies in North America...

 who were unhappy with the changes to the Charter of the French Language, and among English-speaking Quebecers who opposed the use of the notwithstanding clause. Tension over this issue was a contributing factor to the failure of the Meech Lake Accord
Meech Lake Accord
The Meech Lake Accord was a package of proposed amendments to the Constitution of Canada negotiated in 1987 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and ten provincial premiers. It was intended to persuade the government of the Province of Quebec to endorse the 1982 Canadian Constitution and increase...

.

In 1993, the Charter of the French Language was amended in the manner suggested by the Supreme Court of Canada. Bill 86
Bill 86
Bill 86 is a law in Quebec, Canada. Related to the Charter of the French Language, it allows the use of English on outdoor public signs in Quebec, as long as French is more prominent.*...

 was enacted by the Bourassa government to amend the charter. It now states that French must be predominant on commercial signs, but a language other than French may also be used. Accordingly, the law no longer invokes the notwithstanding clause.

See also


External links