From: Ministerial Correspondence Unit – Mailout <Ministerial.CorrespondenceUnit-Mailout@justice.gc.ca>
Sent: August 21, 2019 10:38 AM
To: CBA President / Présidente de l’ABC <email@example.com>
Subject: Correspondence from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Dear Mr. Adlington:
Thank you for your correspondence of February 15, 2019, sent on behalf of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), concerning section 55 of the Constitution Act, 1982. I regret the delay in responding.
I can assure you that I will carefully review the issues that you have raised with respect to section 55 and the adoption of the French version of certain acts and orders that are part of the Constitution of Canada, including the Constitution Act, 1982.
As you know, in 1984, the federal government formed a French constitutional drafting committee made up of legal experts and jurilinguists. In December 1990, the final report of the drafting committee was tabled in the Senate and the House of Commons. Copies of the report were also sent to the provincial and territorial governments. The “first obligation” provided for in section 55 of the Act to draft the French version of the constitutional texts, an obligation that was incumbent on my predecessors, was met thanks to the work of the drafting committee.
However, the implementation of the second obligation, that is, the putting forward “for enactment by proclamation issued by the Governor General,” is the responsibility of the provincial governments, provincial assemblies, the federal government, the Senate, and the House of Commons, as section 55 provides that the proclamation of the French version of the texts must be done “pursuant to the procedure then applicable to an amendment.” At a minimum, this involves the possible application of the multilateral amending procedures provided for in Part V of the Act.
I agree that it is desirable that the French version of the constitutional texts in question be of equal value to the English version, and I remain sensitive to your concerns in this regard. However, the procedure under section 55 calls on a number of stakeholders and interlocutors, at both the provincial and federal levels, and would require not only the coordination of efforts, but also the willingness to act together in a timely manner. I acknowledge the CBA’s resolution and the letter that the Quebec Division of the CBA wrote to Ms. Sonia LeBel, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Quebec, to achieve this collaboration.
Thank you again for writing.
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada