The importance of Charter values in the absence of the infringement of a constitutional right or freedom
Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest v. Northwest Territories (Education, Culture and Employment)
On December 8, 2023, in its decision in Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest v. Northwest Territories (Education, Culture and Employment),1 the Supreme Court of Canada set aside ministerial decisions refusing to admit children of non-rights holder parents2 to French-language schools in the Northwest Territories. At issue was whether the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (the “Minister”), in exercising her discretionary power regarding the enrolment of children of non‑rights holder parents in French first language education programs, should have considered the purposes and values underlying section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) even in the absence of an infringement of this right. The Supreme Court thus had to determine if the decisions made by the Minister were reasonable.