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Quebec justice minister has no power to block bilingualism requirement for judges, court rules

Simon Jolin-Barrette told reporters today he would have more to say after he learns what happened in the trial in which the prosecutors, defence lawyers and judge agreed to keep proceedings secret in order to protect the identity of the informant. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The Quebec Superior Court has ruled that the province’s justice minister does not get to decide whether judges can be required to speak English as well as French.

The case was centred around half a dozen Quebec court judge postings in Montreal and surrounding areas, where Chief Judge Lucie Rondeau deemed it necessary that candidates be bilingual in order to apply.

Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette had refused the bilingualism requirement for those postings and instructed a civil servant overseeing the process to remove it.

Read more: Quebec justice minister rules out making it mandatory judges be bilingual

Justice Christian Immer wrote in a decision issued Wednesday that Jolin-Barrette does not have any power to interfere with the drafting of notices for Quebec court judge postings.

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He said the minister’s intervention exceeded his authority and was illegal.

Immer annulled five job postings for which the demands of Rondeau were not respected because of the minister’s intervention.

Jolin-Barrette said Thursday he would study the judgment but insisted that all lawyers should have the chance to become judges, even if they are unilingual French speakers.

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