The Quebec Superior Court has jurisdiction to hear a case in which Governor General Mary Simon is being asked to be removed from office because she cannot speak French, according to a Quebec Superior Court judge.
Canada’s Attorney General had tried to argue that only the federal court could investigate such a case, but Judge Catherine Piché rejected the claim in June.
The court challenge, filed in the Quebec Superior Court last summer, argues that Simon, who took office as Canada’s crown representative in 2021, cannot hold the position because he does not speak French, one of the country’s official languages.
The plaintiffs, a group of Quebecers, would like to see Simon’s appointment rescinded.
Simon, who was educated at a federal day school in the Nunavik region of Quebec, says she did not have the opportunity to learn French as a child. She has promised to try to learn it in her role as Governor General.
The federal government had filed a declinatory exception, a procedure intended for the case to be heard by another body.
To justify their request, lawyers for the Attorney General of Canada cited section 18 of the Federal Courts Act, which says that “the federal court has exclusive jurisdiction […] issue a declaratory judgment against any federal agency.”
However, the Governor General cannot be considered a federal official, since she was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II – the predecessor of Carlos III – and the Crown is not part of the government, Piché said in a 15-page ruling issued on 13 of June. .
In this context, “the court is of the opinion that the present case falls within the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of Quebec and that the plea should be rejected,” he wrote.
The federal government had 30 days to appeal the sentence. They did not, François Boulianne, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said Tuesday.
The case will be heard by the Quebec Superior Court, with proceedings expected to resume in the fall.
The group that filed the suit was originally headed by former Parti Québécois (PQ) leader candidate Frédéric Bastien, who died a few weeks before the ruling was published. The case is expected to continue despite Bastien’s death.