A message to ICJC members from Professor Errol Mendes, President:
As a member for ICJ Canada in 2016, I would like to thank you for your support and important contributions to our organization. We very much appreciate your commitment to our organization, and ask that you maintain it this year, by renewing your membership online today and, if you can, donate to help with the work of our organization.
Your membership allows us to initiate many events and activities that have a positive contribution in our legal profession and in Canadian society, such as the impactful publication of our initial report on the federal judicial appointments process, and hosting a panel on legislative responses to modern slavery (see the video online)– our first step of engagement in this important area related to business, the rule of law, and human rights.
I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank ICJC Board members Rebecca Robb, Naveen Mehta, and Jennifer Egsgard, whose efforts have been essential to the realization of these initiatives.
Similarly, I’d like to thank our new Vice President for the Prairies John McWilliams, and Council member Jim Arnett for organizing highly successful fundraising dinners this year featuring Dick Pound in Calgary and Toronto, respectively; Council member Peter Tinsley for putting together a successful full day Conference on Canadian whole of government involvement in fragile states; and Board member Chantal Bernier, with whom I hosted an engaging consultative event on national security and civil liberties that involved participants from government, the private sector, and rights-focused NGOs.
We are very excited about several projects that we have initiated and will carry forward this year. What does 2017 have in store for us?
- We will be hosting 2016 Tarnopolsky Award winner Professor Jennifer Bond in discussion with Senator Ratna Omidvar for a special event on responding to the refugee crisis in Ottawa on January 31
- Following the successful panel discussion we hosted on legislative responses to Modern Slavery, we are building a coalition and working towards the potential adoption of laws in Canada similar to the UK Modern Slavery Act
- We’ll continue to work on the second part of our judicial appointments project, the first portion of which has already had a national-level impact
- We are a project partner for “Realizing Rights 2017: Human Rights and Constitutionalism”, a major Conference to take place June 8-10 at the University of Ottawa – and plan to hold our Annual Members’ Meeting in conjunction with this conference (Details TBD – save the date!)
- Also coinciding with Canada’s 150th Anniversary, we intend to publish a book of short essays on the rule of law in Canada, featuring high quality contributions by jurists from across Canada.
Once again, thank you for your support! Wishing you and yours the very best for this new year.
ICJ Canada is currently completing a national project examining Canada’s federal and provincial judicial appointments processes in order to address criticisms that have emerged regarding the processes, and to suggest reforms. The project has two aspects. First, we seek to examine and critique the current Canadian process for judicial appointments. Second, we seek to survey current international norms and national processes from amongst leading rule-of-law jurisdictions around the world to identify best practices for adoption in Canada.
Commencing in the fall of 2015, ICJ Canada began gathering information from provincial jurisdictions across Canada on the federal and provincial judicial appointments processes by providing questionnaires to lawyers in five jurisdictions – Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta. 20 lawyers across Canada have been involved in this information-gathering process and have been reaching out to other members of their respective legal communities. We have prepared an Interim Report setting out the findings we have drawn from the responses received with respect to the federal judicial appointments process. The Interim Report also provides recommendations to address areas that evidently require reform to further advance the principles of judicial impartiality and independence and to promote greater diversity in the judiciary, ensuring it is representative of the communities it serves.
This project coincides with an important change in the federal government’s policy stance on judicial appointments, and its expression of interest in reforming the appointment of section 96 judges. Recently, the federal government took certain steps to reform the appointments process for the Supreme Court of Canada. ICJ Canada supports the general orientation of these reforms.
On August 17, the Department of Justice held a consultation on the Interim Report with Vice President for British Columbia Rebecca Robb -the lead on the project-, Board Member from the Atlantic Provinces Professor Richard Devlin, and ICJC President, Professor Errol Mendes. We expect further consultations with the Department of Justice, and continue to advance the project. We welcome any future opportunities to participate in consultation processes the federal government undertakes to address the judicial appointments process in Canada and contribute our expertise in this area.
Read the Interim Report here. We welcome all feedback, which you may send to: info [at] icjcanada.org.