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Language Rights and the Political Compromise Doctrine

30 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017  

Matthew P. Harrington

Université de Montréal

Date Written: July 20, 2017


This article considers the progress of language rights jurisprudence in the Supreme Court of Canada. Specifically, it will focus on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867, with a view toward exploring the problem of judicial bilingualism. It will begin by examining language rights in their historical context. Thereafter, it will consider the Court’s approach to the interpretation of section 133 in light of the political compromise doctrine. It will conclude by arguing that the Court’s jurisprudence under the doctrine is inconsistent with the purpose of language rights guarantees and should be overruled.

Suggested Citation

Harrington, Matthew P., Language Rights and the Political Compromise Doctrine (July 20, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Matthew P. Harrington (Contact Author)

Université de Montréal ( email )

3101 chemin de la Tour
Montreal, Quebec H3T 1J7
514.343.6105 (Phone)


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