Dalhousie Law Journal


Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, minority language rights, legal history, constitution, Canada, human rights


Minority language rights are both historically and politically central to the Canadian constitution. It is also commonly supposed that they are fundamental rights, rooted in principle, and deserving generous interpretation by the courts. For a time, it seemed that the Supreme Court of Canada shared this view. In the Manitoba Language Reference, for example, they said that "The importance of language rights is grounded in the essential role that language plays in human existence, development and dignity." In Mercure v. A.G. of Saskatchewan they reiterated: "It can hardly be gainsaid that language is profoundly anchored in the human condition. Not surprisingly, language rights are a well-known species of human rights and should be approached accordingly ...."