Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the section of the Constitution of Canada that guarantees minority language educational rights to French-speaking communities outside Quebec, and, to a lesser extent, English-speaking minorities in Quebec. The section may be particularly notable, in that some scholars believe that section 23 “was the only part of the Charter with which Pierre Trudeau was truly concerned.” Trudeau was the prime minister who fought for the inclusion of the Charter of Rights in the Constitution of Canada in 1982.
Section 23(1)(b), or section 23 as a whole, are also known as the “Canada clause.”
Under the heading “Minority Language Educational Rights,” the section reads,
- Text of law:
« 23. (1) Citizens of Canada :
- a) whose first language learned and still understood is that of the English or French linguistic minority population of the province in which they reside, or
- b) who have received their primary school instruction in Canada in English or French and reside in a province where the language in which they received that instruction is the language of the English or French linguistic minority population of the province, have the right to have their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in that language in that province.
- (2) Citizens of Canada of whom any child has received or is receiving primary or secondary school instruction in English or French in Canada, have the right to have all their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in the same language.
- (3) The right of citizens of Canada under subsections (1) and (2) to have their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in the language of the English or French linguistic minority population of a province
- a) applies wherever in the province the number of children of citizens who have such a right is sufficient to warrant the provision to them out of public funds of minority language instruction; and
- b) includes, where the number of those children so warrants, the right to have them receive that instruction in minority language educational facilities provided out of public funds. »
— Section Twenty-three of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms