Federal Government Says Court Challenge to Quebec Language Law Possible

By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
May 25, 2022 Updated: May 25, 2022

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti says his government is not ruling out a court challenge to Quebec’s newly adopted language-reform law.

But Lametti says he first wants to see how it’s implemented, adding that the law could be enforced in a way that doesn’t violate constitutionally protected rights.

Quebec’s Bill 96, adopted on Tuesday, extends strict French-language rules for businesses, requires immigrants six months after they arrive in the province to communicate with the government in French only, and caps enrolment at English-language junior colleges.

The law also proactively invokes the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution to shield the legislation from Charter challenges, and it grants language inspectors the power to search and seize without a warrant.

Lametti says the federal government will be closely watching the implementation of the law and isn’t ruling out a court challenge if the constitutionally protected rights of Quebecers, linguistic minorities or Indigenous Peoples are affected.

The minister says he has concerns the use of the notwithstanding clause has cut short debate on the law and that it removes an important dialogue between the courts and the legislature.