I applaud Justice Harry Laforme’s accomplishments. I also agree that it would be desirable to have an Indigenous judge on the Supreme Court. But bilingualism on the court is not optional. Nor are being bilingual and Indigenous mutually exclusive.
If Stephen Harper and Joe Clark could become sufficiently bilingual to function as national politicians, so can others. The Supreme Court requirement is for “functional” bilingualism, a level far below that necessary to participate in national leaders’ debates.
Coming from the West, I learned French to advance my career in the public service in Ottawa. It was a deliberate choice. As Graham Fraser, former commissioner of official languages made clear, bilingualism is threatened. In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has just added to that concern (Ford Owes Franco-Ontarians A Better Answer – Nov. 21). Judge LaForme has been an inspiration to the next generation of Indigenous lawyers; one hopes some will choose to become bilingual.
Brooke Jeffrey, Ottawa