Three levels of court in B.C. have rejected francophone’s bid to have his trial heard in French. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk).

No French trial for francophone in Surrey

Accused has lost in provincial, supreme and appeal court to have his one-hour trial heard in French

A man set to be tried in Surrey provincial court under the Motor Vehicle Act for driving while prohibited has lost yet another attempt to have his case heard in French.

Joseph Roy Eric Bessette, a francophone, appeared in the Surrey court on Jan. 19, 2015, and asked that his trial be done in French. The case was adjourned to Jan. 28 and the Crown advised him, two days prior to that date, that it would oppose his request.

Provincial court Judge Peder Gulbransen dismissed Bessette’s application to be tried in French on July 13, 2015. The Crown noted that B.C. law since 1858 has been that proceedings in all of the province’s courts must be in the English language.

“While Canada is a bilingual country and all provinces should support the ability of those who speak either official language to use those languages effectively in any province, including participating in court proceedings, ultimately the decision to pass laws for that purpose is completely up to the province,” Gulbransen noted. “British Columbia has chosen not to specifically provide that persons being prosecuted under the provincial statutes may be granted the right to have their trial in French.”

On March 14, 2016, Bessette filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster seeking to quash Gulbransen’s decision, but Justice Murray Blok did not rule in Bessette’s favour.

“The provincial court may have been right or it may have been wrong in its ruling — a matter on which I express no opinion — but it was competent to make the ruling it did,” Blok noted in his reasons for judgment.

Bessette then went to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, in Vancouver, asking it to set aside Blok’s order, quash Gulbransen’s decision and direct that his provincial court trial be conducted in French.

Justice Richard Goepel noted that the appeal court was advised Bessette’s trial “would likely take no more than an hour.”

Goepel dismissed his appeal on July 13, 2017, concluding that “Mr. Bessette has not shown any error in principle or other reason why this court should intervene.”

Justices Mary Saunders and Lauri Ann Fenlon concurred.

tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Police ask for help finding driver after hit-and-run hurts 18-year-old pedestrian

Featured as Crime Stoppers ‘Crime of the Week,’ crash happened in 7400 block of 140th Street on June 5

Councillor Doug Elford Surrey’s acting mayor during McCallum’s “health concern” absence

Mayor issued a statement Tuesday night saying he’ll be back on the job by Monday

‘That night was so much fun’: Surrey-raised comedian in ‘New Wave of Standup’ series

Comedy clubs are still a no-go for Matty Vu, who grew up in Whalley

Delta man charged with arson in relation to New Year’s Day fire in Tsawwassen

The blaze at 5405 12th Ave. destroyed a building containing two dentist offices and a music school

South Surrey crash victim honoured by KPU for ‘determination and strength’

Elgin Park Secondary graduate wrote book detailing recovery from 2007 car crash

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

Sunflower Highway, art initiative to connect Fraser Valley, Thompson-Nicola and Okanagan

Sunflowers made out of reclaimed materials will be installed on public art trails

B.C. tent camps persist as hotels, housing bought for homeless

Current estimate 40 camps, homeless counts stalled by COVID-19

VIDEO: Trio of orphaned Alberta grizzly bear cubs find new home at Vancouver zoo

The Alberta cubs’ mother was killed by hunters and would have otherwise been euthanized, zoo says

VIDEO: Racist ‘cotton’ comment by B.C. student generates outrage online, response by school

Administrator says ‘no doubt that implicit and overt discrimination is present’ in schools

Recent COVID-19 hotspots show ‘cases can reemerge at anytime’ in Canada, feds warn

Njoo said the recent increase in reproductive number brings home the importance of watching for outbreaks

Fraser River may surge one more time next week

It’s unusual for the Fraser River to peak twice in one season, let alone three times

Most Read