Canada: No Longer a Democratic Country that Respects Basic Human Rights? by Don Smith
Supreme Court of Canada will NOT hear Galganov / Brisson Forced Bilingual Sign Appeal – Breaking
CFN – Human rights champion Howard Galganov reports that today he received the much-anticipated e-mail concerning his petition made to the Supreme Court. The court of last resort was being asked to overturn a decision made by a Superior Court judge that allows muncipalities to over-ride the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Previously an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that Russell Township violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but that doing so was acceptable. By a very slim majoriy, the township passed a bylaw which demands that all new exterior commercial signage be in English and French, not one or the other and no provision for other languages. Russell was the fourth Eastern Ontario township to do so.
Today the Township of Russell posted the following Press Statement on their website:
“In light of the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in regards to the leave of appeal from Galganov / Brisson versus Russell in the matter related to the Bilingual Sign Bylaw, we are extremely pleased that the plaintiffs were denied the hearing” said Mr. Jean Paul St-Pierre, Mayor for the Township of Russell. “It finally brings closure to the legal proceedings that were, in all instances, decided in favor of the Municipality by the court. The Court reiterates the fact that the Township was in its legal rights to adopt such bylaw and that Mr. Howard Galganov, a non-resident of the municipality, was in no position to contest the bylaw. We now can move forward for the benefit of our communities” concluded Mayor St.Pierre.”
How ironic that some Franco businesses and municipal agencies choose not to adhere to the bylaw. The municipal Fire Hall in Embrun boasts a unilingual sign which reads: “Poste de Pompiers”.
And, as we reported recently, the Francophone cultural/entertainment centre recently replaced its sign with a high tech version, but still in French only. An employee of La Maison des Arts told us that they were zoned differently (institutional/non-profit), then said that it’s because they provide French education. Apparently the centre previously had posted a small sign which explained that rationale. A member of the local community informed us that La Maison des Arts provides day care service for the French Catholic School across the street; would one not think that to be considered a business venture?
Pierre Leroux ran for and became a Russell Councillor two years ago; he told CFN that it’s widely known that one of his motivating forces in running for Council was the fact that he didn’t feel it right the way that bilingualism was forced upon local businesses. As for today’s Supreme Court announcement, as a member of Council he’s happy that the Township will not have to pay for an expensive legal battle (which he feels could have been avoided), but as a person he feels that the decision is wrong.
So, what about everyone else? People are asking ‘What’s the problem with being fair and allowing everyone a similar degree of freedom of expression?’ That’s a great question!
In our short clip, viewers can plainly see that the animated sign is unilingual and hear for themselves the explanation we received from a staff member of the arts centre.
Galganov was among the presenters at the recent annual Christmas Luncheon hosted by Canadians for Language Fairness at an Ottawa area restaurant. At the gathering, Galganov told the crowd:
“If the Supreme Court decides that they’re not going to hear the case, then it becomes the law of Canada. Any municipality can legislate, not just on issues of language and culture, but on any of the guarantees in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter is essentially a Charter of Suggestions. Any time a judge or group of judges of one mindset or the other can decide what is to be protected and what is not to be protected it means we have no guarantees. Freedom of Expression is the foremost guarantee we have in any free society.”
In our highlight video clip (unedited footage provided by Danno Saunt) each of the key presenters at the CLF Luncheon (Beth Trudeau, Howard Galganov, Nick Vandergragt, Brian Lilley, Ron Barr and Jack MacLaren) shares an update on their involvement in the ongoing struggle to preserve basic human rights here in Canada.
It is anticipated that Galganov as well as Language Fairness for All and Canadians for Language Fairness will step up their efforts locally and nationally.
Don Smith reports on a variety of topics, notably good news items as well as social justice issues.