ICJ Canada is currently completing a national project examining Canada’s federal and provincial judicial appointments processes in order to address criticisms that have emerged regarding the processes, and to suggest reforms. The project has two aspects. First, we seek to examine and critique the current Canadian process for judicial appointments. Second, we seek to survey current international norms and national processes from amongst leading rule-of-law jurisdictions around the world to identify best practices for adoption in Canada.
Commencing in the fall of 2015, ICJ Canada began gathering information from provincial jurisdictions across Canada on the federal and provincial judicial appointments processes by providing questionnaires to lawyers in five jurisdictions – Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta. 20 lawyers across Canada have been involved in this information-gathering process and have been reaching out to other members of their respective legal communities. We have prepared an Interim Report setting out the findings we have drawn from the responses received with respect to the federal judicial appointments process. The Interim Report also provides recommendations to address areas that evidently require reform to further advance the principles of judicial impartiality and independence and to promote greater diversity in the judiciary, ensuring it is representative of the communities it serves.
This project coincides with an important change in the federal government’s policy stance on judicial appointments, and its expression of interest in reforming the appointment of section 96 judges. Recently, the federal government took certain steps to reform the appointments process for the Supreme Court of Canada. ICJ Canada supports the general orientation of these reforms.
On August 17, the Department of Justice held a consultation on the Interim Report with Vice President for British Columbia Rebecca Robb -the lead on the project-, Board Member from the Atlantic Provinces Professor Richard Devlin, and ICJC President, Professor Errol Mendes. We expect further consultations with the Department of Justice, and continue to advance the project. We welcome any future opportunities to participate in consultation processes the federal government undertakes to address the judicial appointments process in Canada and contribute our expertise in this area.
Read the Interim Report here. We welcome all feedback, which you may send to: info [at] icjcanada.org.