Two business owners from Russell Township were in court Wednesday fighting a bilingual bylaw that requires them to have signage in both English and French.

"It's not an English versus French, it's the right of individuals to express themselves in language of choice," said Jean-Paul Brisson, a Russell business owner who advertises only in French.

English-language rights activist Howard Galganov agrees: "Either we have freedom of expression without government telling us how we can express ourselves and what language we can express ourselves. To me, it's a very simple issue: it's yes or no."

Bilingual bylaw

Russell Township approved a bilingual sign bylaw two years ago. The population of the township, which includes Embrun, Russell, Limoges and Marionville, is approximately 14,000 people -- roughly half are Anglophone, the other half are Francophone.

"We have evidence from sociologists and historians on how it has an impact on individuals seeing their language on those signs, realizing there is a place for their language and culture," said Ron Caza, the township's lawyer.

The judge residing over the case is expected to hear arguments until Friday. Many believe the case will set a precedent for bilingual municipalities considering a similar bylaw.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Vanessa Lee