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

Just Posted

White Rock’s Coldest Night raises $102K

390 walkers participated in seventh-annual event

Girls, women try their hand at marine rescue in Surrey

Achieve Anything Foundation, RCMSAR Crescent Beach host ‘Operation: This IS You! Saving Lives at Sea’

White Rock cadets nab medals at Vernon competition

Thirteen members of 907 Squadron compete at regional meet

Surrey boy living with congenital heart disease to speak at local Tedx event

Mason Vander Ploeg will be speaking on saving the oceans

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Fraser Health warns some schools of possible COVID-19 exposure

A sixth COVID-19 patient is a woman in her 30s in the Fraser Health region who recently returned from Iran

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Initial police report of 2015 accident was ‘inaccurate’ Langley RCMP say

Online statement issued to clarify that victim was not in the middle of the road

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

B.C. VIEWS: Pipeline dispute highlights need for clarity

As the B.C. treaty process grinds on, uncertainty remains

Winds up to 70 km/hr expected across Metro Vancouver

Winds are expected to subside overnight

Most Read