OTTAWA – Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes stood in the House of Commons yesterday to deliver a speech in support of Bill C-232.

The bill would amend the Supreme Court Act, introducing a requirement for all judges who are newly appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada to be able to conduct hearings in both English and French without the assistance of an interpreter. The bill, which was in its third reading yesterday, will be voted on this Wednesday.

“It’s the responsibility of the government to ensure that, when someone appears before the Supreme Court of Canada, they are able to have their matter dealt with in either of our official languages,” said Hughes. “Their matters should not be delayed because of a lack of qualified bilingual judges. Many Francophone individuals have had hearings suspended for as long as a year because of judges who can only speak English.”

“Given the large population of Francophones within the riding of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, and having worked in the provincial criminal justice system, I recognize the importance of accessibility to French-language services,” stated Hughes. She reinforced this message, referring to a letter she received last year from Roger Sigouin, Mayor of Hearst, who voiced his concern about a lack of Francophone judges for the Supreme Court of Justice.

“Canada’s Official Languages Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms clearly speak to the need of government’s responsibilities when it comes to the two official languages, and this should be reflected in our judicial system. The Federal Court, the Federal Appeals Court, and the Tax Court of Canada all have bilingual language laws, yet it is ironic that this does not apply to the Supreme Court of Canada.”