Ottawa, November 9 2006

Canadian Judicial Council calls on government to consult on proposed changes to judicial Advisory Committees

OTTAWA, 9 November 2006 – The Minister of Justice, the Honourable Vic Toews, has informed the Canadian Judicial Council that he intends to make significant changes to the composition and functioning of the Judicial Advisory Committees, which recommend to the Minister candidates for appointment as federal judges.

The Council is concerned that these changes, if made, will compromise the independence of the Advisory Committees.  The committees have operated since 1988 as independent entities, for the purpose of ensuring that the government has the benefit of obtaining the best possible advice on making appointments to the Bench.  Members of the committees are appointed by the judiciary, the Canadian bar, law societies of the provinces, the provincial attorneys general and the Minister of Justice.

The government’s intentions were recently announced without any consultation taking place with the judiciary, the law societies or the Canadian Bar Association.  This is contrary to a well-established convention followed by all previous governments since the inception of the committees.

The Chief Justice of Canada and Chairperson of the Canadian Judicial Council, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, said “We call upon the Minister to initiate an immediate process of consultation on the proposed changes with the judiciary, Canadian Bar Association, the law societies and other interested parties.  We believe this is necessary to protect the interests of all Canadians in an independent advisory process for judicial appointments.”

The Council urges the government to maintain the status quo and refrain from implementing the changes in order to allow meaningful consultation to take place.

The Canadian Judicial Council is composed of the chief justices and associate chief justices of Canada’s superior courts.  The Council’s web site address is:

Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and General Counsel
613-288-1566, extension 301