Canadian Judicial Council holds its annual meeting by videoconference amid the COVID-19 pandemic
The Canadian Judicial Council reports that all 41 of its members met by videoconference over 2 days to discuss a number of key issues relating to improving the efficiency, uniformity and quality of judicial services in all superior courts in Canada.
In his opening remarks, the Council Chairperson, Chief Justice of Canada, the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, said how impressed he was with the commitment demonstrated by all Chief Justices to keep courts open and adapt to new ways of rendering justice despite the ongoing pandemic. “I am very proud of the leadership and commitment to justice shown by Chief Justices across the country. Navigating this pandemic required that courts be nimble and agile and embrace new technology. Canadians can be proud of how well our justice system has risen to that challenge” said Chief Justice Wagner.
The Council welcomed the Minister of Justice, the Honourable David Lametti, who addressed Council with a view to maintaining an open dialogue on a number of important issues of shared interest. Of note, in responding to continued calls (see Open Letter to Canadians) to move forward on improvements to the judicial conduct process, the Minister undertook to present draft legislation early in 2021.
The Minister also acknowledged Council’s commitment to safeguarding judge-led training and our shared goal in strengthening confidence in the Canadian judicial system (see News Release). To this end, the judiciary must remain independent of the executive and legislative branches of government.
Likewise, the Minister reaffirmed his support to help advance Council’s efforts to modernize its governance structure. Council members also raised with the Minister issues relating to timely judicial appointments and ensuring the courts are adequately resourced.
Chief Justice Wagner took the opportunity to thank Minister Lametti for his work on the Action Committee on Court Operations in Response to COVID-19 whose goal was to help courts try to find immediate solutions to the crisis of the pandemic (see link to the portal).
The meeting provided Council members with the opportunity to pass a number of resolutions and to discuss key priorities, including:
- A model to categorize judicial information in order to allow courts to react and respond to the evolution of technology, court operations and the practice of law.
- that work be pursued to develop policies and guidelines relating to requests for access to court records and information for commercial purposes
- considerations relating to term limits for Chief and Associate Chief Justices;
- progress on the development of procedural handbooks for self-represented litigants;
- the approval of key judicial education programs for judges;
- an update on the work of the National Committee on Jury Instructions and the Child Protection Committee;
- an overview of public outreach activities planned for the upcoming year including the creation of a year in review report;
- an update on the important work to revise Ethical Principles for Judges.
In closing, Council members reaffirmed their commitment to collaboration and to maintaining public confidence in the judiciary.
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