Ford and Irwin Toy 30 Years Later: A Conversation with Justice Montigny
Thirty years ago, in a tense national political context, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered judgment in three cases that have had a profound impact on Canadian society and constitutional law: Ford v. Québec (A.G.) and its related appeal, Devine v. Québec (A.G.), and Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Québec (A.G.) decided a few months apart1. Against the backdrop of language conflicts in Québec and constitutional reform at the national level, this Supreme Court trilogy established the foundations of freedom of expression and the application of the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the quasi-constitutional nature of Québec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Government of Québec was represented by Yves de Montigny — now a Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal — as lead counsel. On the occasion of the trilogy’s 30th anniversary, Justice de Montigny was invited to the Université de Montréal, Faculty of Law, to share with first-year students his reflections on the three Supreme Court decisions as well as his experience as a young lawyer at the forefront of the major constitutional debates of the time.