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Société des Acadiens v Association of Parents

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Title: Société des Acadiens v Association of Parents  
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Société des Acadiens v Association of Parents

Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents
Supreme Court of Canada
Hearing: December 4–5, 1984
Judgment: May 1, 1986
Full case name Société des Acadiens du Nouveau‑Brunswick Inc. and the Association des conseillers scolaires francophones du Nouveau‑Brunswick v. Association of Parents for Fairness in Education, Grand Falls District 50 Branch
Citations [1986] 1 S.C.R. 549
Court Membership
Chief Justice: Brian Dickson
Puisne Justices: Jean Beetz, Willard Estey, William McIntyre, Julien Chouinard, Antonio Lamer, Bertha Wilson, Gerald Le Dain, Gérard La Forest
Reasons given
Majority Beetz, joined by Estey, Chouinard, Lamer and Le Dain
Concurrence Dickson, joined by None
Concurrence Wilson, joined by None

Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 549 is an early Supreme Court of Canada decision on minority language rights under section 19(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court held that fundamental justice ensures that a Francophone accused has the right to an interpreter during their trial but language rights do not guarantee the right to be heard by a judge who speaks French.


  • Decision 1
  • Aftermath 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Justice Beetz, writing for the majority held that the protection language rights under section 19(2) were different from most other rights in the Charter as they were the result of a political compromise, and consequently must be read restrictively. The right to be tried in court in French does not even imply a right to an interpreter. The only right to be understood would be provided by fundamental justice and sections 7 and 14 of the Charter rather than language rights.[1]


The decision inspired criticism. Professors Leslie Green and Denise Réaume call it "troubling," noting the division of the Charter between rights to be read conservatively and liberally was not specific, so other rights besides the language rights were at risk of being conservatively read.[2] Moreover, they questioned the meaning of conservative readings, saying that even with supposed generous readings of the Charter, it is expected that courts are not making law.[3]

Green also argued that when it comes to diminishing rights due to compromise and politics,

Most fundamental democratic rights, from Magna Carta to Declaration of the Rights of Man, from the Great Reform Act to the International Covenant, had seedy pasts. They were conceded reluctantly and only after protracted political battles and compromises in which ideology had greater power than political theory. Cynicism and scepticism about Canada's Charter is often bred of more attention to pedigree than to principle. Had Magna Carta been concluded under a system of representative government, the glare of lights and the whir of video-recorders, we would no doubt regard it too as a mere political compromise.[4]

This decision was eventually reconsidered in R. v. Beaulac, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 768 where the Court rejected the Beetz interpretation in favour of the case's minority decision of Dickson and Wilson.


  1. ^ Para. 60-61.
  2. ^ Green, Leslie and Denise Réaume, "Second-Class Rights? Principle and Compromise in the Charter," The Dalhousie Law Journal, vol. 13 (1990), p. 566.
  3. ^ Green and Reaume, p. 569.
  4. ^ Green, Leslie. "Are Language Rights Fundamental?" Osgoode Hall Law Journal vol. 25, no. 4, 1987, pp. 645-646.

External links

  • full text from LexUM
  • case summary at
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