To deliver on its commitment to ensure that the process of appointing Supreme Court of Canada Justices is transparent, inclusive, and accountable to Canadians, the Government of Canada announced a new approach on August 2nd, 2016.
In keeping with that approach and the successful selection that followed, a second process to select the next Justice of the Supreme Court was announced on Friday, July 14, 2017. As in the first process, an independent and non-partisan advisory board has once again been asked to recommend the qualified, functionally bilingual candidates who reflect a diversity of backgrounds and experiences for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Members of the Advisory Board
The Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada judicial appointments includes seven members:
- A retired judge nominated by the Canadian Judicial Council
- Two lawyers, one nominated by the Canadian Bar Association and the other by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada
- A legal scholar nominated by the Council of Canadian Law Deans
- Three other individuals, including two non-lawyers, nominated by the Minister of Justice
The Right Honourable Kim Campbell has agreed to continue as Chairperson of the Advisory Board. There is one new member, who is appointed for a one year term, at the request of the Federation of Law Societies. All other members have been re-appointed for three year terms.
Role of the Advisory Board
The Advisory Board’s mandate is to assist in identifying a ninth member to restore the Court to a full complement following the retirement of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin on December 15, 2017. From the nine Justices of the Supreme Court then assembled, the Prime Minister will identify the jurist best placed to serve as the next Chief Justice of Canada.
The Advisory Board will consider applications received through the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs.
Part of the Advisory Board’s work will be to actively seek out qualified candidates and encourage them to apply. The Advisory Board will consult with the Chief Justice of Canada and other key stakeholders the Board considers appropriate. The statutory requirements and assessment criteria will guide the work of the Advisory Board.
Members of the Advisory Board will be expected to observe the highest standards of impartiality, integrity, and objectivity in considering all candidates.
In establishing a list of qualified candidates, the Advisory Board will also help achieve a Supreme Court of Canada that is gender-balanced and reflects the diversity of Canadian society.
The Advisory Board will provide the Prime Minister with non-binding, merit-based recommendations of three to five qualified and functionally bilingual candidates for consideration. The Advisory Board will also provide an assessment of how each candidate meets the statutory requirements and the extent to which they meet the assessment criteria.
The Minister of Justice will review the shortlist of candidates and consult with the Chief Justice of Canada, relevant provincial and territorial attorneys general, relevant cabinet ministers, and opposition justice critics, as well as members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Following these consultations, the Minister of Justice will present recommendations to the Prime Minister who will then choose the nominee.
Selecting a candidate
Once the Prime Minister has chosen the nominee, the Minister of Justice and the Chairperson of the Advisory Board will appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to explain how the chosen nominee meets the statutory requirements and the assessment criteria. The nominee will also take part in a moderated question and answer session with members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, and representatives from the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party.
Within a month of the judge being appointed, the Advisory Board will submit a report that outlines how it fulfilled its mandate, including costs related to its activities and statistics related to the applications received. The Advisory Board may also use the report to make recommendations for improving the process. To ensure transparency and accountability, the report will be made public.