hide You are viewing an archived web page collected at the request of University of Alberta using Archive-It. This page was captured on 16:21:04 Dec 08, 2010, and is part of the HCF Alberta Online Encyclopedia collection. The information on this web page may be out of date. See All versions of this archived page. Loading media information
Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer

Home    |    Info    |    Contact Us    |    Partners    |    Sitemap    |    Archives    

Alberta's Francophone Heritage
Background, People, Culture, Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource and Alberta Lottery Fund


Francophone Edukit

Angel Spacer
The Piquette Affair

Dr. Philippe Roy

Lucien Maynard

The Piquette Affair


In Alberta, French and English remained the official languages of the Legislative Assembly and of the courts, when the province was established according to section 110 of the North West Territories Act, such as it was modified in 1891.1 Although a motion had been made to remove French from the Legislative Assembly in 1891, in reality no law was enacted to enforce it. All the same, it was commonly believed that English was the only official language of the province. French had been used from time to time in the Alberta Legislative Assembly, and usually received quite well, but the use of French in the courts seems to have been limited to one case, occurring in 1924. Afterwards, the courts contended that French had been abolished.

In 1986, when Léo Piquette, then New Democrat member of the legislative assembly for Athabasca-Lac La Biche, presented a speech in French requesting that he be permitted to assume the rights accorded to him by the article 110 of the statutes of the North West Territories Act of 1891. The response to his request was silence, but a year later, when he requested that the Minister of Education see to fulfilling the rights given to francophones according to section 23 of the Constitution Act of April 1982, he was commanded by the speaker of the house, in French no less, to speak English.

Alberta government members were astounded to hear of Piquette’s statement of rights. Their inquiry into the subject muddled matters, claims were made that Piquette was wrong and he was requested to apologise for having disrupted the assembly. However, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the Mercure case a few months later (and clearly stated that section 110 of the North West Territories Act was still in vigour) Alberta and Saskatchewan passed laws repealing section 110.


Albertasource.ca | Contact Us | Partnerships
            For more on Francophone Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Copyright © Heritage Community Foundation All Rights Reserved