Bourgouin highlights horrific care of sexual misconduct survivor being denied right to speak due to lack of translation
QUEEN’S PARK – Guy Bourgouin, the NDP’s critic for Francophone Affairs, blasted the Ford government for failing to provide court services in French in Northern Ontario and not allowing the fair administration of justice for Franco-Ontarians.
During question period, Bourgouin said one man from Hearst who has difficulty speaking and understanding English had to attend court proceedings in English, while one woman from Algoma District could not give her testimony in French in a case of sexual assault due to a lack of services in French.
“While English and French are the official languages of the courts in Ontario, access to services in French in several regions of the province remains a utopia,” said Bourgouin, MPP for Mushkegowuk-James Bay.
“Last week, a resident of the town of Hearst failed to be served in his native language at the Ontario Court of Justice in Sault Ste. Marie. Having difficulty speaking and understanding English, this person had to appear in a videoconference offered in English.
“Can the premier explain to Franco-Ontarians why in 2020 they cannot address Ontario courts in French?”
The Ford government has had two years to provide French language services in the courts. Instead of taking action, the Ford government has made repeated announcements yet has failed to provide fair access to justice for Franco-Ontarians.
“Today in December 2020 , we are faced with a situation like that of a female resident of Algoma District who could not give her testimony in French before the criminal court as a complainant in a case of sexual assault,” said Bourgouin.
“Due to the absence of an interpreter, the trial was postponed and subsequently canceled in November 2019 without the alleged victim being able to offer testimony.
“Will the premier admit, once and for all, that is he failing Ontario’s francophones with the chronic lack of services in French in the province’s justice system?”