Fundamental Freedoms - The Charter of Rights and Freedoms
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Minority Language Educational Rights
Access to French and English education

Case Law

Arsenault-Cameron v. Prince Edward Island, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 3 Supreme Court of Canada
There were enough children in a local community with a right to a French language education to justify school facilities. The Ministry of Education refused to set up a French language school in that community. The Ministry planned to bus the children with French language education rights to a school in another community.

The Court decided that the Ministry of Education had to provide a French language school in the local community, and not just bus the children somewhere else. The Court said that section 23 is intended to fix past wrongs, preserve and promote the minority language community, and protect it from assimilation. A school is the main institution for such community development.

Doucet-Boudreau v. Nova Scotia, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 3 Supreme Court of Canada
When a Nova Scotia judge decided a case on minority language education rights, he ordered the province to make best efforts to build a French school and to report back to the court about progress. The Supreme Court decided that under section 23, a judge could monitor the province's efforts to create French school facilities. The Court said that if the provincial government was left to build French schools on its own timetable, the French-speaking minority in Nova Scotia could be in danger of being assimilated into the English-speaking majority.

Gosselin (Tutor of) v. Quebec (Attorney General), [2005] 1 S.C.R. 238 Supreme Court of Canada
A Quebec law limited English language schooling. Parents belonging to the French language majority in Quebec wanted their children educated in English. They said that not making English language education available to francophone Quebeckers violated equality rights under section 15 of the Charter.

The Court decided that because the parents were members of the French language majority in Quebec, they did not have minority language education rights. Section 23 is designed to protect a province's minority language community. Giving English education to children of French-speaking parents is not within the purpose of section 23. The Court also said Charter rights cannot be ranked. For example, section 15 equality rights do not trump section 23 minority language education rights.

D'alton McCarthy, 1889. Let us deal with the dual languages of the North-West. In the Local House let us deal with the teaching of French in the schools.  When these two matters are settled, we will have accomplished something, and we may be able to do something better in the future.
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