On September 26, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada sat in Winnipeg to hear the appeal in the case of Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, Fédération des parents francophones de Colombie-Britannique, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia, et al, an important case, dealing with the interaction between section 23 and section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, among other things. It was a historic moment for several reasons. First, this was the first time since its inception in 1875 in that the Supreme Court of Canada has sat outside of Ottawa. Second, the appeal represents the last step in a long legal battle led by the Franco-Colombian community, which is demanding adequate funding for its French-language schools. The original trial lasted 238 days - the longest in British Columbia's history - and resulted in a decision of more than 1600 pages (or 6843 paragraphs). Third, this case allowed the Supreme Court to clarify, for the first time, the extent to which economic considerations should be taken into account in the analysis of section 1 of the Charter when the constitutional right to minority language education is at stake. Finally, the CSFCB case saw the participation of no less than thirteen graduates, professors or friends of the French Common Law Program (see the complete list below) as counsel on file or as correspondents. Among these is Professor François Larocque, who took part in the pleadings as an intervener on behalf of the Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights, as he holds this position. Although this is not Professor Larocque's first appearance before the Supreme Court of Canada, his presence on the case marks the first time that a university research chair has intervened in an appeal to the highest court in the country.
In recognition of the historic nature of this event, the Common Law Section broadcasted the pleadings of the CSFCB case live in room 102 of Fauteux Hall. The students who participated in the presentation enjoyed a light lunch, courtesy of the Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights.
Graduates and friends of the PCLF involved in the CSFCB case include:
Érik Labelle Eastaugh
Joelle Pastora Sala