The Official Languages Act became law in 1969. In 1978, The Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada created a language training program tailored to the needs of judges.
The Judges' Language Training Program became even more important following the adoption in the Criminal Code of provisions guaranteeing the language rights of defendants as well as the coming into force of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and various provincial laws.
The Program strives to increase judges' level of comprehension and expression of their second language, thereby enabling them to communicate effectively in that language. French legal terminology courses are also offered to the francophone judges from Common Law provinces at the proficiency level.
Over the years numerous judges have gained sufficient knowledge to master a second language. Thus many of them are able to preside in court, understand testimony, read legal texts, write judgments and participate in legal conferences in their second language.
The Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada strongly encourages judges to attend the various levels of language training offered to them. Not all participants will reach the level of presiding in court in their second language. However, all will be able to increase their knowledge and thus contribute to the advancement of bilingualism at the very heart of the Canadian judicial system.