June 20th, 2024

N.B. lieutenant-governor does not need to be bilingual, says Court of Appeal

By The Canadian Press on May 23, 2024.

New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Brenda Murphy places a wreath at the cenotaph as part of the provincial Remembrance Day ceremony in Fredericton, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. New Brunswick's Court of Appeal says that while it is desirable for the province's lieutenant-governor to be bilingual, the Constitution doesn't impose such a requirement.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s Court of Appeal says that while it is desirable for the province’s lieutenant-governor to be bilingual, the Constitution doesn’t impose such a requirement.

In its decision released today, the Court of Appeal reversed a lower court ruling that said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated constitutional language protections when he appointed unilingual anglophone Brenda Murphy as lieutenant-governor in 2019.

The Acadian Society of New Brunswick had challenged Murphy’s appointment, arguing that it violated the right to communicate with and receive services from the government in either official language.

But the Court of Appeal panel says that while residents of Canada’s only officially bilingual province have the right to receive services in either language, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not impose an obligation to appoint a bilingual lieutenant-governor.

The court says the use of Canada’s two official languages in the office of the lieutenant-governor doesn’t depend on the “personal linguistic capabilities” of the office holder.

The Acadian society said in a statement it maintains its position that a bilingual lieutenant-governor is a constitutional imperative and it intends to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2024.

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