The Conservatives still don’t get that judges should be bilingual

NDP Official Languages critic Yvon Godin (Acadie–Bathurst) is befuddled by the appointment of a unilingual Anglophone to the position of Chief Justice of the Tax Court of Canada. 

“A national federal court should have a bilingual judge at its head. What language do I have to use to get this across to the Conservatives?” said Godin. “We live in a country where there are two official languages, and our institutions need to reflect that.”

On Friday, December 19, after the House of Commons had adjourned for the year, Stephen Harper went ahead and appointed Eugene Rossiter—a judge who speaks only English—to become the Chief Justice of the Tax Court of Canada. Although alternation between civil and common law judges is prescribed by the law, there is no provision to ensure that judges are bilingual or that we alternate between Anglophone and Francophone judges. 

“It’s time to make a change,” said Godin. “I have tried several times to ensure that Supreme Court judges are bilingual, but even then, the Conservatives voted against our motion in May. And here they are in 2015, doing the same thing at the Tax Court of Canada. This is not only a matter of equality between official languages—it’s a matter of equal access to justice.”