April 2002 – Bilingual Legislation

The new Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada state that, where the provision of any statute, regulation rule, ordinance or bylaw relied on is required by law to be published in both official languages, both the English and French versions are to be reproduced in the factum on appeal. Even though the new rules do not come into force until June 28, 2002, the Court would find it very helpful if counsel were to voluntarily comply with this provision immediately.

The consideration of both versions was determinative in two recent appeals before the Court. As noted by the Supreme Court of Canada in one of these appeals, R. v. Mac, 2002 SCC 24, at para. 5:

[S]tatutory interpretation of bilingual enactments begins with a search for the shared meaning between the two versions. Where the words of one version may raise an ambiguity, courts should first look to the other official language version to determine whether its meaning is plain and unequivocal.

The cooperation of counsel is appreciated.

Anne Roland