Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents

Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents

case-name=Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents
full-case-name=Société des Acadiens du Nouveau‑Brunswick Inc. and the Association des conseillers scolaires francophones du Nouveau‑Brunswick v. Association of Parents for Fairness in Education, Grand Falls District 50 Branch
heard-date=December 4-5, 1984
decided-date=May 1, 1986
citations= [1986] 1 S.C.R. 549
JoinMajority=Estey, Chouinard, Lamer and Le Dain

"Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents", [1986] 1 S.C.R. 549 is an early Supreme Court of Canada decision on minority language rights under section 19(2) of the "Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms". The Court held that fundamental justice ensures that a Francophone accused has the right to an interpreter during their trial but language rights do not guarantee the right to be heard by a judge who speaks French.


Justice Beetz, writing for the majority held that the protection language rights under section 19(2) were different from most other rights in the Charter as they were the result of a political compromise, and consequently must be read restrictively. The right to be tried in court in French does not even imply a right to an interpreter. The only right to be understood would be provided by fundamental justice and sections 7 and 14 of the Charter rather than language rights. [Para. 60-61.]


The decision inspired criticism. Professors Leslie Green and Denise Réaume call it "troubling," noting the division of the Charter between rights to be read conservatively and liberally was not specific, so other rights besides the language rights were at risk of being conservatively read. [Green, Leslie and Denise Réaume, "Second-Class Rights? Principle and Compromise in the Charter," "The Dalhousie Law Journal", vol. 13 (1990), p. 566.] Moreover, they questioned the meaning of conservative readings, saying that even with supposed generous readings of the Charter, it is expected that courts are not making law. [Green and Reaume, p. 569.]

Green also argued that when it comes to diminishing rights due to compromise and politics,

This decision was eventually reconsidered in "R. v. Beaulac", [1999] 1 S.C.R. 768 where the Court rejected the Beetz interpretation in favour of the case's minority decision of Dickson and Wilson.


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