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.
On March 5, ICJ Canada Board member Gib van Ert hosted an event at his law firm, Hunter Litigation Chambers, in Vancouver, British Columbia. This successful event served as an occasion to introduce the Canadian section of ICJ and its new project on federal judicial appointments to members of the local bar. Guests included Mr. Justice Voith of the Supreme Court of British Columbia; Bruno De Vita, managing partner of a well-known local firm, Alexander Holburn; John Hunter QC, head of Hunter Litigation Chambers; and Clea Amundsen, who recently spent several months in Kenya on an ICJ project. Event attendees learned about ICJ Canada’s focus on promoting an effective judicial appointments process that reflects international norms, and ensures a respected and independent judiciary that also reflects the diversity of Canada’s population. You can find out more about the project here.
The first part of 2015 has been a busy and exciting time for ICJ Canada. We are engaged in a process of renewal that has involved some significant changes.
Our new office is now housed on the University of Ottawa campus, in the Human Rights Research and Education Centre. This new location is ideal, as it will allow us to take advantage of the resources available in a university setting, and to strengthen partnerships with students and professors at the University of Ottawa Faculty Of Law. This location fits nicely with our intention is to grow a network of student groups across Canada; and to foster a commitment to our core values among young jurists (as well as the legal profession and Canadian society more broadly).
Our new office address and contact information is:
University of Ottawa
Suite 554 - 57 Louis Pasteur
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5
Tel : 613-562-5199
New members of our team
We have welcomed a new Executive Director to our team: Janine Lespérance. She is a lawyer with a firm commitment to promoting human rights, and shares with the Board of Directors the strong will to advance the work and deepen the impact of ICJ Canada in innovative ways.
We also have several new Board members on our roster, and invite you to view the full list.
Please feel free to get in touch with Janine our any one of our directors to find out how you can be involved in ICJ Canada’s work.
New focus areas
We have chosen to focus our current activities on four substantive theme areas that are galvanizing national and international attention: judicial appointments, business and access to justice, national security and civil liberties, and rule of law in the post-2015 international development agenda. Please visit our issues page to find out more.
To continue with these and other initiatives, we rely on the support of engaged members and donors who share our belief that our country needs a strong legal organization like ICJ Canada; one that aims to ensure that Canadian laws reflect international norms and standards, and which is part of a global network of jurists working to promote the rule of law, human rights, and the independence of the judiciary. Join us or donate today!