Category Archives: Language Rights

The Representation in Representative Democracy

Electoral Ridings in Montreal

Some hullaballoo about new seats for Ontario, BC and Alberta. The NDP and Quebec oppose the change and root their opposition in this decision: Reference re Prov. Electoral Boundaries (Sask.), [1991] 2 SCR 158 Read below for a backgrounder.

“The Commons has 308 seats at present. Our Constitution guarantees 75 of those to Quebec. That’s 24.4% of the seats for a province with 23.2% of the national population. (Ontario, by comparison has just 34.4% of the seats despite being home to 38.8% of Canadians.) Even if the federal Tories move ahead with plans to add 30 seats to the Commons – 18 in Ontario, seven in British Columbia and five in Alberta – Quebec will still have 22.2%.

After adding the planned new seats, Quebec would still come as close as any province but B.C. to having the proper number of seats for its population. If more seats are added, Quebec’s representation will be one percentage point below its share of the national population, Alberta’s will be 1.2 percentage points under and Ontario’s will be 2.1 points under. Only B.C., which would then be 0.6 percentage points under-represented, would be more equitably treated than Quebec. (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and all the Atlantic provinces already are over-represented, and would remain so under the new plan.)

But in 1991, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that electoral districts in Canada do not have to honour the one-person, one-vote standard. (Well, actually, the Supreme Court said the oneperson, one-vote rule was sacred in a democracy, but then listed so many allowable exemptions as to make the rule meaningless.)

The majority on the court explained that “relative parity of voting power is a prime condition of effective representation.” The judges then added that “deviations from absolute voter parity, however, may be justified on the grounds of practical impossibility or the provision of more effective representation. Factors such as geography, community history, community interests and minority representation may need to be taken into account to ensure that our legislative assemblies effectively represent the diversity of our social mosaic.” Other than all those exceptions, though, “dilution of one citizen’s vote, as compared with another’s, should not be countenanced.”” – Thomas Mulcair’s numbers game, Lorne Gunter, National Post

Episode 16: On the Margins

Welcome et bienvenue to LegalEase: a monthly Montreal-based and produced radio show on 90.3 FM CKUT. We broadcast law broadly. Le collectif LegalEase est un group des étudiants et étudiantes en droit de la communauté montréalaise. This episode is entitled, “On the Margins.” It will focus on minority language rights, homelessness and housing inititiatives, as well as the gendered nature of legal studies. Listen to the Show here.

Daniel Mayer contribu un analyze sur la theme de la droit linguistiques minoritaires au Canada. Precisement, il discut la nouveau arret: Nguyen c. Quebec.


Host Lainie Basman brings us into the Mile End Legal Clinic. Located in Montreal’s Plateau we meet its director, Rachel Doran. She discusses a day of action against homelessness and parliament’s housing initiative, bill C-304.

Finally, contributor Preeti Dhaliwal interviewed law student Natai Shelson on the gendered nature of legal studies.

Tune in live every second Friday of every month from 11h00-12h00 on CKUT 90.3 FM in Montreal or listen on-line at For more programming, check us out at

LegalEase – CKUT 90.3 Montreal – April 2010 Episode 10 – Silent Labourers

Welcome to LegalEase – a Montreal-based, produced and broadcast radio show concerning “The Law”. This month’s episode is entitled: Silent Labourers.

Mae Nam looks at the International Labour Organization’s 90th Anniversary conference at McGill, interviewing Prof. Peggy Smith of Iowa University about the conditions of Domestic Workers. Daniel Mayer, in his fourth segment on Francophone rights, looks at the relationship between Quebec and the Francophone community outside Quebec through the lens of a recent Supreme Court case, Nguyen v. Quebec (Education, Recreation and Sports), 2009 SCC 47. Finally, LegalEase discusses the life of a little-known Superior Court judge with Michael Bookman, with some thoughts on the writing of Canadian Legal history.

Enjoy! Check us out at or email us at legalease[at]

LegalEase – CKUT 90.3 Montreal – March 2010 Episode 9 – Creatures of Statute

elcome to LegalEase – a Montreal-based, produced and broadcast radio show concerning “The Law”. This month’s episode is entitled: Creatures of Statute: Looking at French Schools, the Budget and the Canadian Navy.

In brief, we first consult Professor Kim Brooks on the 2010 March Budget and the making of Canadian budgets. Second, we turn to commentator Daniel Mayer for his segment droits des communautés francaises minoritaires which this month looks at French Education Outside Quebec. Finally, for the 100th anniversary of the navy, LegalEase chats with Martin Pelletier on Canadian Legal History and the Naval Service Act 1910.

Budget Money!

Enjoy! Check us out at or email us at legalease[at]