Charges stayed after police breach linguistic rights

Posted on: April 24th, 2018 by Suzanne Deliscar Add A Comment

An Ontario judge’s decision to stay criminal charges against a francophone man because the police failed to serve him in French is a reminder of the importance of linguistic rights, Brampton lawyer-linguist Suzanne Deliscar tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The CBC recently reported on the case, which involved a Sudbury, Ont. man arrested in 2016 for impaired driving after registering a blood alcohol three times the legal limit.

Although he could speak English, the man told the news network that he repeatedly asked for the police to communicate with him in French due to the stress of the situation.

The charges were stayed by a judge who found that the police’s failure to accede to his requests resulted in a violation of s. 10(b) of the Charter, the article states.

“This isn’t simply a preference, it’s an entrenched Charter right,” says Deliscar, principal of Deliscar Professional Corporation, a law firm that offers services in English, French and Spanish. “I frequently tell people to ask about their linguistic rights.”

She says she sees first-hand the effect that a pressurized environment can have on her clients’ language skills.

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