Ontario Superior Court decision and comments on the French-language university project
THE SUPERIOR COURT CONFIRMS THAT A FRENCH-LANGUAGE UNIVERSITY IN SUDBURY BY AND FOR THE FRENCH-SPEAKING COMMUNITY IS ESSENTIAL AND MUST BE COMPLETED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
May 11, 2021 – While the University of Sudbury is still greatly disappointed with the imposed termination of the Laurentian Federation, the institution is pleased with the judge's comments on the linguistic side of the litigation. Justice Cory Gilmore of the Ontario Superior Court confirmed that the transformation of the University of Sudbury into a French-language university must be completed as soon as possible.
In her reasons, the judge unequivocally emphasized the importance of the Board of Regents resolution of March 11, 2021, regarding in part the transformation of the University of Sudbury, in consultation with the Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO), Francophone stakeholders in Sudbury and other northern Ontario communities into a university managed and governed by, for, and with the Franco-Ontarian community.
"This is a decision that will have an impact on Francophone minorities across the country for years to come. Justice Gilmore recognized that post-secondary education in a bilingual format no longer meets the needs of the Francophone community and that the Project of the French-speaking University of Sudbury is very important and must materialize as soon as possible," said Ronald Caza, who argued for the University of Sudbury.
"Justice Gilmore said, and I quote: ‘For several years, the Franco-Ontario community has expressed a desire for a university by and for Francophones. A “bilingual” institution is not enough as English tends to be the dominant language in such institutions," Caza continued. He explained: "Justice Gilmore could not be clearer about the importance of the French-language University of Sudbury, and I quote the judge: 'This is a laudable and important goal which it is hoped that University of Sudbury can achieve in the near future.'"
Although Laurentian University has sought protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) as a result of its mismanagement, André Claude, who represents the University of Sudbury in this proceeding, explains that Gilmore J. explicitly states that 'Laurentian University must take the needs of the Franco-Ontarian community into account within the context of CCAA proceedings.'
"The court has therefore effectively recognized the essential role played by the AFO, which intervened in this proceeding," explains Mr. Claude.
Justice Gilmore also referred to the business plan in preparation for the transformation of the University of Sudbury into a French-language university, explaining that following the March 2021 resolution, the institution mandated the preparation of a business plan in April 2021. The plan for the French-language University of Sudbury, which charts the transition for the University of Sudbury to achieve its new goal, whose vision includes, as the judge explains, 'the establishment of an independent secular university that offered French-language programs to develop leadership, while preserving a Francophone identity. '
This press release touches on the recent decision and comments of Justice Gilmore. Note that University of Sudbury President John Meehan is still in discussion with Indigenous communities, as also mandated by the Board of Regents, for the charter sharing and the development of an institution by, for and with Indigenous communities. Updates on this will be communicated in due course.