Language of Trial

AuthorSteve Coughlan/Alex Gorlewski
276 Preliminary Matters / Pre-trial Motions
2.5(d) Language of Trial
Is the accused’s preferred language an oicial
language of Canada?1
Yes No
The accused may apply to be
tried in their oicial language or
in both languages.
The accused may apply to
be tried in the oicial language
in which they can best give
testimony or in both languages.
Has the accused applied in time?2
Yes No3
Has the court granted the order?4The court may
still make an order
if satisfied that it is
in the interests of
Yes No
The accused
will have various
language rights
for the duration of
the proceedings5
The proceedings
continue as normal5
Special rules concerning language of trial have been placed in the Criminal
Code, RSC 1985, c C-46 [Code], intended to reect the fact that Canada has two
ocial languages while at the same time making allowance for the fact that
not all persons speak both ocial languages.
As a practical matter, of course, trials in almost all locations in Canada will
have a “default” language in which they naturally occur. Although not framed
in this way, the implicit assumption of the language of trial provisions, con-
tained in Part XVII of the Code, is that sometimes an accused will be a mem-
ber of the linguistic minority of their particular province (or in the case of the
Territories, speaks the less-spoken between English and French) and will be
applying for a trial in the language that would not automatically be used. Re-
ecting that New Brunswick is the only ocially bilingual province, the rules
apply slightly dierently there (see note 4, below).

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