More Discussion Needed on Language by Bar Associations

Posted on: August 26th, 2015 by Suzanne Deliscar Add A Comment

The 2015 annual general meeting in Chicago of the American Bar Association focused on issues relating to language diversity and access to justice — a topic that Brampton lawyer-linguist Suzanne Deliscar says requires more discussion amongst those working in justice in Canada.

“I think it’s still a work in progress to have these sorts of issues addressed by lawyers and judges at a national level in this country,” she tells

“While both the Ontario Bar Association and the Canadian Bar Association are bilingual organizations, these matters aren’t yet at the forefront.”

Deliscar wades into the discussion after reading about the American Bar Association’s annual meeting entitled, “The Language of Justice: Removing Language Barriers to Justice,” which focused on the long-standing right to be judged by one’s peers and equal justice under law.

“I think it’s a major problem there and for the American Bar Association to address it at the national level is huge,” she says. “It means the organization thinks it’s a concern that’s relevant to the 1.3 million lawyers who practise in the United States.

“I don’t think discussions on language in justice are happening at that level here in Canada.”

And that’s a problem, says Deliscar.

She would like to see language have a more front-and-centre presence with the Canadian Bar Association, in particular.

She says Canada and the U.S. share many of the same concerns around language and access to justice.

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