Quebec waived 1,200 fishing tickets over French-only document

Quebec waived more than 1,200 tickets for fishing infractions last year after a North Shore lawyer successfully challenged their constitutionality.

The reason? The province's 586-page annual publication of fishing rules and regulations hadn't been translated into English.

It's likely nearly all fishermen ticketed for various infractions were French-speaking. 

However, the province's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) decided that the same rules applied to everyone, regardless of language spoken.

As a result, the DPCP abandoned all infractions for which fishermen were issued tickets between the court's ruling in October 2015 and June 2016, when the publication was finally translated.

"Laxity led to the document not being translated to English," said Sylvain Roy, the Parti Québécois wildlife critic and MNA for Bonaventure, who brought the issue up at parliamentary committee meeting earlier this week.

Roy said because fisheries fall under federal jurisdiction, the North Shore lawyer successfully argued that the unilingual French document was unconstitutional.

The DPCP confirmed Roy's explanation, saying it had no choice but to drop all similar cases until the rules and regulations were available in both English and French.

'Like a Jordan ruling for wildlife'

Roy. a sports fishing enthusiast, said he doesn't understand why provincial wildlife officers weren't told about the ruling immediately, in October 2015.

"Close to 400 wildlife officers in Quebec were working on cases related to fishing infractions, without knowledge that their work was completely useless," Roy said.

"They let offenders off the hook," he said.

"It's almost like a Jordan ruling for wildlife, where the capacity of prosecutors to do their jobs was hindered."

The Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Luc Blanchette, told Radio-Canada that the decision to drop the cases was the DPCP's to make.

The spokesperson for the ministry hasn't yet replied to CBC's request for comment.