The Canadian Judicial Council Reports on its Annual September Meeting
The Canadian Judicial Council met this week in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to discuss a number of topics related to improving the administration of justice across Canada’s superior courts.
Amongst other things, the Council discussed two of its key priorities: judicial appointments and the judicial conduct process. Council members also exchanged on these matters with the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice, via videoconference.
Council members reiterated their call for more timely judicial appointments. Canada’s Chief Justice and Chairperson of the Canadian Judicial Council, the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, P.C., noted the following: “We continue to be concerned about the high number of judicial vacancies, and its impact on access to justice for Canadians. We recognize the efforts made by Minister Virani, and those of his predecessor David Lametti, in filling some vacancies, and we are appreciative of the ongoing collaboration shown by Government officials. We look forward to maintaining that dialogue and to continuing to see improvements in the process.”
Council members also expressed concern over the lack of resources and infrastructure in some courthouses across the country. They encouraged the federal government to work with its provincial and territorial counterparts so that the latter may invest accordingly to ensure greater efficiency in the administration of justice. The Council noted that such collaboration between the two levels of government would be very helpful as well when courts request increases to their judicial complements.
With regard to judicial conduct issues, the Chairperson of the Council said: “We are very pleased that Bill C-9 received Royal Assent this past Spring. We have since been working to implement the new process by which complaints about judicial conduct are reviewed, to ensure it is more efficient and transparent.”
Council members discussed reports from a number of committees and working groups, notably on the emergence of artificial intelligence before the courts, on the important work to update jury instructions to ensure they keep pace with the evolution in the law, and on ways judges can use a case management approach in family law matters to improve efficiency and fairness.
In reflecting on the number of retirements since 2020, and the new Council members who have been appointed since then, Chief Justice Wagner closed by underscoring the importance of the Council as the body through which Canada’s Chief Justices and Associate Chief Justices can come together to build public confidence in the justice system, strengthen judicial independence and reaffirm respect for the Rule of Law.