Mahe Case



Mahe Case

On appeal from the Court of Appeal in Alberta, where a small group of francophone parents had taken the Alberta Government through the court system (Queen's Bench 1985; Appeal 1987) on minority language educational rights, the Supreme Court of Canada had to rule whether the rights that Section 23 of the CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS mandates, depending upon the number of students, include 1) a right to "management and control" over minority language facilities and instruction; and if so, 2) whether the number of students in the Edmonton area are sufficient to invoke this right; 3) the meaning of the phrase "management and control"; and 4) whether the Alberta School Act and the regulations passed thereunder are inconsistent with Section 23 of the Charter.

The parents won on all counts (except for #4, where only Reg 490/82 infringes Section 23) in the Mahe decision of 15 March 1990, the last major judgement rendered by Chief Justice, the Honourable Brian Dickson. This decision is a significant testimonial to the notion of "equal partnership" for Canada's 2 official languages as the case came to a close in the volatile political context of MEECH LAKE's ratification process. It is also a precedent-setting case for all minority language communities across Canada, and while it took 4 years to have the proceedings implemented by the government of Alberta, some communities are still fighting their provincial government for their right to manage and control their children's education.