Re Manitoba Language Rights [1985] 1 S.C.R. 721 at 724

The constitutional principle of the rule of law would be violated by these consequences. The principle of rule of law, recognized in the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982, has always been a fundamental principle of the Canadian constitutional order. The rule of law requires the creation and maintenance of an actual order of positive laws to govern society. Law and order are indispensable elements of civilized life. This Court must recognize both the unconstitutionality of Manitoba's unilingual laws and the Legislature's duty to comply with the supreme law of this country, while avoiding a legal vacuum in Manitoba and ensuring the continuity of the rule of law.

There will be a period of time during which it would not be possible for the Manitoba Legislature to comply with its constitutional duty under s. 23 of the Manitoba Act, 1870. It is therefore necessary, in order to preserve the rule of law, to deem temporarily valid and effective the Acts of the Manitoba Legislature, which would be currently in force were it not for their constitutional defect. The period of temporary validity will run from the date of this judgment to the expiry of the minimum period necessary for translation, re-enactment, printing and publishing.

With respect to rights, obligations and any other effects which have purportedly arisen under repealed, (page 725) spent or current unilingual Acts of the Manitoba Legislature, some will be enforceable and forever beyond challenge by the operation of legal doctrines such as the de facto doctrine, res judicata and mistake of law. Those rights, obligations and other effects not saved by the operation of these doctrines are deemed temporarily to have been, and to continue to be, valid, enforceable and beyond challenge until the expiry of the minimum period necessary for translation, re-enactment, printing and publishing of the Acts of the Legislature of Manitoba under which they arose. At the termination of the minimum period, these rights, obligations and other effects will cease to have temporary validity and enforceability, unless the Acts under which they arose have been translated, re-enacted, printed and published in both languages. As a consequence, to ensure the continuing validity and enforceability of rights, obligations and other effects not saved by the de facto or other doctrines, the repealed or spent Acts of the Legislature, under which these rights, obligations and other effects have purportedly arisen, may need to be re-enacted, printed and published, and then again repealed, in both official languages.

Temporary validity, however, will not apply to unilingual Acts of the Legislature passed after the date of this judgment. From the date of judgment, laws not enacted, printed and published in both languages will be invalid and of no force or effect ab initio. The Court, as presently equipped, is unable to determine the period during which it would not be possible for the Manitoba Legislature to comply with its constitutional duty. Following a request for determination from the Attorney General of Canada or the Attorney General of Manitoba, made within one hundred and twenty days of the date of judgment, the Court will set a special hearing, accept submissions from the Attorney General of Canada, the Attorney General of Manitoba as well as the other interveners, and make a determination of the minimum period necessary for translation, re-enactment, printing and publishing of the Acts of the Manitoba Legislature.

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