Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke English

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Zatota
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Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke English

Unread post by Zatota »

Some of you may have heard the story of a Francophone Manitoba lawyer who had a speeding ticket thrown out because the police officer was unable to communicate with him in French. Here's the story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ ... -1.4249924

I wonder if the same thing could happen in Ontario, particularly in an area in which the French Language Services Act applies. I'm bilingual and could easily make the case that French is my first language. The guy involved speaks perfect English in the embedded video, so he certainly can't claim he didn't understand the officer. Frankly, I think the situation is ridiculous. An Anglophone wouldn't have a ticket withdrawn in Quebec simply because the officer couldn't communicate with him or her in English. If it were a more serious charge, would the Crown have been willing to stay the proceedings?

Any thoughts?


argyll
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Re: Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke Eng

Unread post by argyll »

I also think it's ludicrous. The only bilingual province is New Brunswick so I could see the argument there but everywhere else is unilingual. It's funny how often bilingual people forget one language when it suits them - I had the same thing happen to me when I was in Nunavut and arrested a well known commentator on tv (in English). Suddenly he could only speak Inuktituk.
Former Ontario Police Officer. Advice will become less relevant as the time goes by !


Stanton
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Re: Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke Eng

Unread post by Stanton »

I find it interesting that the Crown actually stayed the proceedings. The matter never went to trial. I'm curious if there was another issue outside of the language issue. I can't see the Crown wanting this to become the norm.


Zatota
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Re: Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke Eng

Unread post by Zatota »

I'm with Stanton. Again, the guy speaks perfect English, so I think he kills his own argument there. I'd be interested in hearing the Crown's explanation. I don't see myself trying this, even though I can easily play the "I don't speak English" game.


Zatota
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Re: Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke Eng

Unread post by Zatota »

I'm with Stanton. Again, the guy speaks perfect English, so I think he kills his own argument there. I'd be interested in hearing the Crown's explanation. I don't see myself trying this, even though I can easily play the "I don't speak English" game.


daggx
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Re: Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke Eng

Unread post by daggx »

The Supreme Court ruled in the case Reference Re Manitoba Language Rights, 1985 that Manitoba was constitutionally required to draft its legislation and provide access to the courts in both English and French as section 23 of the Manitoba Act of 1870, the act that brought Manitoba into confederation, had guaranteed French language rights in the province. This case was brought because the Government of Manitoba had attempted to make English the province's only official language. After this ruling the Government went out of its way to ensure that French language rights were not violated in the province. The Manitoba Government even created a French language Secretariat to ensure that the French speaking population is properly served. That having been said I don't know if there is any rule that requires cops at the road side to provide bilingual service to people who clearly speak English. However language rights are a political hot potato in the province so the crown may have simply withdrawn the charge to avoid political controversy.


whaddyaknow
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Re: Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke Eng

Unread post by whaddyaknow »

I wonder if the outcome would have been different if the fellow wasn't a lawyer.


Zatota
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Re: Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke Eng

Unread post by Zatota »

daggx wrote:The Supreme Court ruled in the case Reference Re Manitoba Language Rights, 1985 that Manitoba was constitutionally required to draft its legislation and provide access to the courts in both English and French as section 23 of the Manitoba Act of 1870, the act that brought Manitoba into confederation, had guaranteed French language rights in the province. This case was brought because the Government of Manitoba had attempted to make English the province's only official language. After this ruling the Government went out of its way to ensure that French language rights were not violated in the province. The Manitoba Government even created a French language Secretariat to ensure that the French speaking population is properly served. That having been said I don't know if there is any rule that requires cops at the road side to provide bilingual service to people who clearly speak English. However language rights are a political hot potato in the province so the crown may have simply withdrawn the charge to avoid political controversy.
We have similar provisions here to ensure the French-speaking population is properly served, particularly in areas identified in the French Language Services Act. Although policing is a municipal service, how far does one extend the concept of provision of municipal services? It's one thing to ensure there is a French speaker at the service counter, in a courtroom, etc., but is it practical to have a French-speaking officer available in every car or on short notice? Your theory may hit the nail squarely on the head.


Zatota
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Re: Speeding ticket withdrawn because officer only spoke Eng

Unread post by Zatota »

whaddyaknow wrote:I wonder if the outcome would have been different if the fellow wasn't a lawyer.
I'm sure it would have been. The average citizen probably wouldn't have had any clue about the extent of his or her language rights and probably wouldn't have the resources to do the research, cite the right cases, say the right things, etc.


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