On Wednesday December 5th 2018, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights unanimously adopted an amendment from Liberal Members of Parliament Anthony Housefather and Mona Fortier that revises the Divorce Act to enshrine the right to testify in, plead in, give evidence in, make submissions in and receive judgment in the official language of your choice across Canada.
Housefather and Fortier had both been shocked to hear from French language communities in provinces such as British Columbia and Newfoundland that divorce proceedings did not occur in French. They then worked with their Liberal Caucus colleagues on the Justice Committee and in the Official Languages Minority Communities Caucus to secure support for their proposal from the Government and the members of the Justice Committee from all parties.
“I am thrilled that we added a linguistic provision to the Divorce Act that is consistent with the federal government’s commitment and obligation to take positive measures in accordance with Part VII of the Official Languages Act,” said Fortier, who represents the riding of Ottawa-Vanier. “As a proud Franco-Ontarian I am very pleased to have contributed to the protection of our minority language communities.”
“English and French speaking Canadians should have the right to be heard in court in the language of their choice across Canada,” said Housefather who represents Mount Royal and is Chair of the Justice and Human Rights Committee. “As an English speaking Quebecer it is incredibly satisfying to play a role in changing law to ensure that we expand minority language rights. This is a message that our Liberal Government will always defend both official languages across Canada.”
Fortier and Housefather wanted to express their specific thanks to the FAJEF and other minority language groups who raised the issue with them and supported them in this endeavor.