August 02, 2016 - 10:30 AM
OTTAWA - The federal Liberals have decided a new advisory board, not the government, should select potential new judges to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada.
The government announced Tuesday it will change the manner in which a Supreme Court justice is appointed, saying it's time for the process to "demonstrate a degree of rigour and responsibility" that may have been missing in the past.
Former prime minister Kim Campbell will chair the seven-member, non-partisan advisory board that will recommend three to five candidates for the high court to the prime minister for consideration.
The change is similar to one the Liberals brought in months ago to appoint senators. An independent body now makes decisions about who should be named to the upper chamber, a process that also enables Canadians to apply for the jobs themselves.
Much like the Senate, the prime minister will still decide which nominee should join the high court.
The Liberals said the new appointment process will add openness and transparency to the process of selecting new Supreme Court justices.
They are hoping to avoid the outcome the Conservatives faced when the high court killed the appointment of Marc Nadon, saying he didn't meet the constitutional requirements for a Quebec justice.
In a letter published Tuesday in the Globe and Mail, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the process will "will set a higher standard for accountability."
"Gone are the days of governments — Liberal and Conservative alike — nominating Supreme Court justices through a secretive backroom process," wrote Trudeau.
"Canadians deserve better."
Interested Canadian lawyers or judges, who meet the qualifications and are "functionally bilingual," will be able to apply for a position on the Supreme Court scheduled to open Sept. 1 with the retirement of Justice Thomas Cromwell.
The government said it plans to publicly release the questionnaire each candidate must answer and some — but not all — of the answers from the eventual nominee.
Ottawa also said it will consult Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, provinces, territories, and opposition parties on the nominee.
The House of Commons and Senate justice committees will have the chance to question Campbell and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould about the incoming Supreme Court justice. The parliamentary committees will also get an opportunity to question the nominee through what the government calls a "moderated question and answer session."
The advisory board chaired by Campbell will have seven members.
Four members have been designated by the Canadian Judicial Council, the Canadian Bar Association, the Federation of Law Societies and the Council of Canadian Law Deans.
Wilson-Raybould named the other three members, two of whom are from outside the legal community
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016