Quebec’s justice minister said he is considering drafting a law which would strip courts of the right to require judges to be bilingual.
Last week, the Quebec Superior Court found the minister acted illegally when he tried to remove the bilingualism requirement from recent postings for judges in and around Montreal.
“Not to be appointed as judge because you’re not 100 per cent bilingual, that’s called discrimination,” Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette told reporters Wednesday at the National Assembly.
Read more: Quebec justice minister has no power to block bilingualism requirement for judges, court rules
He said he is considering an appeal or changing the law.
On Wednesday, he tabled a non-binding motion for the Quebec National Assembly to support the idea that unilingual candidates not be barred from applying to become judges.
The Quebec Liberal Party decided to support this motion.
“Last week, we didn’t know their position, and today they say, ‘OK, we agree with the government,'” Jolin-Barrette said.
Liberal MNA David Birnbaum said the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) is trying to create division where none exists.
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“Our position is you can reconcile these two important obligations — the right to work in French and the right and access to justice in English,” he said.
Last week, debate about bilingual judges devolved into a spitting match between the two parties, with Premier Legault accusing the Liberals of being the party of anglophones and not interested in protecting French.
Birnbaum said this motion is another diversion tactic.
“The CAQ seems to have a bit of disdain for the rule of law. The minister of justice, the courts have ruled, acted illegally. That’s not small, so the premier of course wants to change the channel,” the Liberal MNA said.
A Laval University political science professor thinks Wednesday’s motion is more about politics than language.
“I think it’s complicated for the justice minister because I believe he knows what he’s trying to do with the judges is just impossible. But maybe there are some political points to be made,” said Marc André Bodet.