When jurists disagree, it’s reasonable doubt

Health Minister Michael Murphy visited the Telegraph-Journal last week to explain his reasons for creating two health authorities, divided on linguistic lines. He continues to insist that a single, bilingual health authority would undermine New Brunswickers’ language rights.
Our reporter ran the Minister’s arguments by a couple of constitutional scholars. While both applauded the government’s cautious
approach, they could not agree on whether a bilingual board would be vulnerable to constitutional challenge.
That makes perfect sense, because the kind of reform the government is engaging in has not been tested at the highest judicial levels.
Mr. Murphy’s health plan is a guesstimate – a working solution designed to evade a confrontation over language in Canada’s highest
courts.
Frankly, we don’t understand the minister’s reluctance to implement and defend a bilingual health authority. His compromise has not
satisfied those seeking complete duality, and it has antagonized those who believe the government should be promoting bilingualism as the solution that preserves both cultures.

The government would have been better off to create a single health authority and take its chances at the Supreme Court. The policy is
likely to be challenged anyway; only now, the government must defend a health plan that divides the province, rather than uniting it.

2008 05 13 TJ pa6 When jurists disagree, it’s reasonable doubt