Justice minister announces 24 new judges in effort to end national shortage

Finally, the announcement of the new process for selecting federally-appointed judges. No real surprise given the ministerial mandates letters. Still nothing (yet) and regular reporting:

The Liberal government has announced a new judicial appointment process that emphasizes gender and racial diversity.

One of the key changes unveiled on Thursday specifies that governments and independent legal groups that pick the members of the committees that screen candidates “will be asked to take into account the need to ensure [the committees] are representative of the diversity of Canada,” according to a justice department backgrounder. All members of the screening committees will get training on diversity, unconscious bias and assessment of merit, the backgrounder says. A federal agency will keep track of the demographic makeup of applicants. Until now, applications have been tabulated only by gender, not race.

As part of the process, applicants will have to fill out more detailed application forms than they do now. In these forms, applicants will detail their abilities in Canada’s two official languages, and they may be tested on their proficiency.

Another set of modifications will undo changes the Harper government made to the process. The Conservatives had put a police representative on the judicial advisory committees that screen judges for federally appointed courts (such as provincial superior courts, the Federal Court and Tax Court). They had also taken away the vote of a judge on those committees, which had given the federal appointees a voting majority. And the Conservatives had taken away the judicial advisory committees’ ability to “highly recommend” applicants; they could only recommend (or not). The government will remove the police representative, return the vote to the judge and re-establish the “highly recommended” category.

Applicants who applied under the previous process will have to re-apply, but on Thursday, the government announced the appointments of 24 judges under the existing process.

The Liberals have come under fire from the legal community because they appointed just 15 judges in their first year in power, during which judicial vacancies reached 61. That’s more than at any time during Stephen Harper’s decade in power, records show. When Mr. Harper stopped appointing judges in the summer of 2015, before the federal election, there were a little more than a dozen vacancies.

Backlogs in criminal, civil and family cases have risen in some provinces, especially in Alberta and Nova Scotia.

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/liberals-to-unveil-new-judicial-appointment-process-undo-changes-made-by-harper/article32454733/

And the announcement of 24 judicial appointments:

After months of criticism for not acting fast enough to appoint much-needed judges across the country, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced 24 judicial appointments Thursday.

“We have moved to fill urgent judicial vacancies by drawing on existing lists of recommended candidates,” the minister said in a statement. “The government is confident in the outstanding quality of these appointees and their dedication to delivering just outcomes for Canadians.”

Justice system can’t wait for judicial appointments review, say judges

Trudeau government has backlog of more than 300 appointments

Of the 24 new appointees, 14 are women and two are Indigenous. (No visible minorities are mentioned but need to doublecheck).

Source: Justice minister announces 24 new judges in effort to end national shortage

And for the list (I will be doing an analysis later as am travelling):

Source: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1140619 (separate links by Federal Court and Provincial Courts)

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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