May 26th, 2019

British Columbia man has a right to trial in French, Supreme Court says


By The Canadian Press on May 16, 2019.

The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Thursday, May 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada says a British Columbia man charged with a driving offence is entitled to a trial in French.

The ruling comes today in the case of Joseph Roy Eric Bessette, who was charged under B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act in September 2014 with driving while prohibited.

The following January, Bessette appeared in provincial court in Surrey, B.C., and asked that his trial be held in French – a request the Crown contested.

A judge then refused to order a French trial, concluding that B.C. law does not include a right to one for provincial offences.

Bessette asked the Supreme Court of British Columbia to intervene but the court declined, saying he would have to wait for an eventual appeal after having a trial in English.

Bessette unsuccessfully challenged the decision in the B.C. Court of Appeal, prompting him to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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