"Bilingual Defence" - Where it can be used

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Radar Identified
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"Bilingual Defence" - Where it can be used

by: Radar Identified on
Wed May 20, 2009 4:05 pm

One of the most frequent tickets we get asked about on this forum is "Disobey Sign" of some sort. In many parts of Ontario, if the sign is not bilingual, there is a possibility that it may be challenged as invalid. This is because of O.Reg 615 (which sets the standard for road signs) requiring bilingual signs in a designated bilingual area, which was initially backed up by the R. v Myers case. A bilingual sign is either pictogram-only, or if it lists specific times when the sign is in effect, it says, for example "MON - FRI" and also "LUN - VEN." While it may seem rather strange that Toronto (which has 1.4% of the population as French-speaking but substantially larger populations that speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Vietnamese, Arabic, Tagalog, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, etc) requires French signs, it is an option. It is not, however, bulletproof. Myers was appealed and the defendant pled guilty, so no precedent was set. If you wish to use this defence, you must state that O.Reg 615 requires bilingual road signs, and even though the municipality itself may not have committed to providing French services, the province of Ontario clearly has. As such, the ticket affects your provincial driving record and demerit points, so it is logical that the sign should be bilingual. Will they accept it? Maybe, maybe not. If, however, the sign is on a PROVINCIAL highway (e.g. 401, hwy 3, etc), then the sign must be bilingual.

If you're wondering whether your city is a designated bilingual area, here is a list of the current designated bilingual areas, as of May 20, 2009:

City of Toronto
City of Mississauga
City of Brampton
City of Ottawa
City of Hamiton (does NOT include the areas of Waterdown, Ancaster, Flamborough or Dundas)
City of London
City of Windsor
City of Kingston
City of Greater Sudbury and the District of Sudbury
Regional Municipality of Niagara
District of Algoma
District of Cochrane
District of Nipissing
District of Timiskaming
Township of Ignace
Municipality of Callander
County of Stormont
County of Glengarry
County of Russell
County of Prescott
County of Simcoe (Town of Penetanguishene, and the townships of Tiny and Essa only)
County of Renfrew (Town of Pembroke, townships of Stafford and Westmeath only)
District of Thunder Bay (Geraldton, Beardmore, Longlac, Marathon, Manitouwadge, Nakina and Terrace Bay)
Essex County (Belle River, Tecumseh, Tilbury, Colchester North, Maidstone South, Sandwich West, Sandwich South, and Rochester only - but not Leamington, Amherstburg or Kingsville)

If your ticket for disobey sign was in one of those regions, bilingual defence could be applied if the sign was not bilingual. However, the following are some examples of places that are NOT designated bilingual areas:

Regional Municipality of York (Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Stouffville, Newmarket, Aurora, etc)
Regional Municipality of Durham (Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering)
Regional Municipality of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton)
Regional Municipality of Kitchener-Waterloo
Oxford County
Dufferin County
City of Peterborough
City of Trenton
And so on.

Also, "STOP" signs are designated by Ontario Regulation 615, which outlines acceptable signage, as acceptable, even though they are in only one language. "STOP" signs cannot be challenged on the basis of not having "ARRET" also written on them, even in a designated bilingual area.
Last edited by Radar Identified on Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:51 am, edited 4 times in total.


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by: southbay on
Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:22 pm

Hi, I recently lost the case (dec., 18, 09) by using this case of R. v. Myers to defend my case of turning right onto Richmond from southbound of Bay during a period of restriction time. This sign was Mon-Fri, and English Only. However, the prosecutor argued that City of Toronto never approval or adopted this bilingual option. He further mentioned that the City has appealed and won the case from the superior court. The justice of peace was in favor of him. Can you please update me on this? I am going to appeal. Should I stick to the bilingual or not? Any strong evidence to will be much appreciated. Otherwise, I will most likely seek for a less fine or points by an explanation at the appeal.


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by: Radar Identified on
Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:11 am

Some of the discussions that happened since this was posted indicated that bilingual defence would not work. The story is, the City of Toronto appealed R. v. Myers, and then Myers pled guilty instead of going through another trial... go figure that one. We also found that only a Superior Court Justice may make a declaratory order, and the JP and appeal court Justice who ruled on R. v. Myers were clearly not Superior Court Justices... but the City of Toronto may have gone beyond the initial appeal to a Superior Court of Justice and obtained an order preventing use of bilingual defence ever again... but I don't know if they did or not. If they didn't, then the option to use it may be available but it depends on the JP.

Long story short: I'd only suggest the bilingual defence as "try it and see if it works," but not to rely on it.

Some of the previous post that I wrote was edited as a caveat.
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by: hwybear on
Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:19 pm

RI - do you have a link to these listings? There are some (towns etc) there that are no longer in existence
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by: Radar Identified on
Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:46 pm

The most current information is maintained by the Office of Francophone Affairs:

http://www.ofa.gov.on.ca/en/flsa-mapdesig.html

Looks like they haven't updated the municipalities though. :shock:
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by: hwybear on
Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:02 pm

Radar Identified wrote: Looks like they haven't updated the municipalities though. :shock:
that is what i see too. I see one municipality listed that has not existed for 11 years :shock:
Above is merely a suggestion/thought and in no way constitutes legal advice or views of my employer. www.OHTA.ca


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by: Radar Identified on
Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:45 pm

hwybear wrote: I see one municipality listed that has not existed for 11 years
Which one? I'll edit the first post on the thread to remove it.
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by: hwybear on
Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:41 pm

Radar Identified wrote:
hwybear wrote: I see one municipality listed that has not existed for 11 years
Which one? I'll edit the first post on the thread to remove it.
Chatham-Kent is NOT on the list on the FSL link and should be removed.

Kent County is listed on FSL link, but has not existed for 11yrs.
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by: Radar Identified on
Fri Jan 01, 2010 7:32 pm

Edit to list done.
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by: Marquisse on
Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:07 am

Please also note that the french sign requirement for the City of Hamilton exists only for the City of Hamilton as it existed prior to January 1, 2001. The City of Hamilton amalgamated with Waterdown, Flamborough, Ancaster and Dundas on January 1, 2001, so the french sign requirement does not apply to these areas since, prior to January 1, 2001, they did not form as a part of the City of Hamilton.

I discovered this when someone here suggested this defense to me and I looked into the Hamilton city limits as I was charged on a Hwy, but not within the City of Hamilton as it existed prior to January 1, 2001.


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by: Radar Identified on
Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:51 am

Thanks, Marquisse. 1st post edited.
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by: hwybear on
Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:38 am

HTA OREG 615
52. A municipality situated in an area designated by the French Language Services Act is not required to comply with the sign requirements for such areas unless it (Municipality) has passed a by-law under section 14 of that Act.
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by: neo333 on
Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:49 pm

what's the status of the "bilingual defence"? Is R v. Meyers still applicable?


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by: Radar Identified on
Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:57 am

Personally I'm at the point of only suggesting bilingual defence as an option, but not to rely on it. It may work in some isolated cases, but in most cases it does not. The Myers case went to appeal and she pled guilty instead of going through a trial; as far as I know, that's how it ended.
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by: Bamelin on
Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:26 pm

Oh noes,

I wish I had known this earlier. I had court yesterday and indicated to the justice I was going to use bilingual defence. The prosecution said this wasn't fair as she had not been provided with the sections of the hiway traffic act I would be quoting.

It was close to 4:30 so the justice didn't start my trial saying it was a very complicated case (she also added she didn't think I would win) ... so my trial got pushed back to September 10th 2010. My ticket is dated May 9th 2009.

I'm wondering if I have grounds to request a Stay under 11b of the Charter ? The new court date will place me at 16 months when I go to trial again. Seems unreasonable ...


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