Ottawa, Ontario
October 17, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

A. Applicants:

1. How many applicants were there and how many were from Atlantic Canada?

The Independent Advisory Board (IAB) will report on this information one month from the date of the appointment.

2. Were any applicants encouraged to apply?

Under the new appointment process announced by the Prime Minister of Canada, any qualified Canadian lawyer or judge had to formally apply to the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada.  As part of this open and transparent process, anyone could encourage people to apply by reviewing the publicly available qualifications and assessment criteria, including qualifications required by statute and other criteria http://www.fja-cmf.gc.ca/scc-csc/qualifications-eng.html.

B. Independent Advisory Board:

3. What was the Independent Advisory Board’s process?

The Independent Advisory Board (IAB) considered all applications received through the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. The IAB assessed potential candidates based on publicly available qualifications and assessment criteria, including qualifications required by statute and other criteria http://www.fja-cmf.gc.ca/scc-csc/qualifications-eng.html.  The IAB considered the custom of regional representation on the Court as one of the factors, in order to identify qualified candidates who are jurists of the highest calibre, functionally bilingual, and representative of the diversity of Canada. The IAB consulted with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and other key stakeholders on the potential nominees.

4. What criteria were used?

All candidates were required to satisfy the statutory criteria set out in the Supreme Court Act, namely that they are or have been a judge ‎of a superior court of a province or a barrister or advocate of at least ten years standing at the bar of a province. It was also required that they be functionally bilingual.

Candidates were assessed on the following personal skills and experience: demonstrated superior knowledge of the law; superior analytical skills; ability to resolve complex legal problems; awareness of, and the ability to synthesize information about, the social context in which legal disputes arise; clarity of thought, particularly as demonstrated through written expression; the ability to work under significant time pressures requiring diligent review of voluminous materials in any area of law; and a commitment to public service.

Applicants were also assessed on the following personal qualities: irreproachable personal and professional integrity; respect and consideration for others; the ability to appreciate a diversity of views, perspectives, and life experiences, including those relating to historically disadvantaged groups in Canadian society; moral courage; discretion; and open-mindedness.

Finally, the Independent Advisory Board considered the following institutional needs of the court: ensuring a reasonable balance between public and private law expertise, bearing in mind the historic patterns of distribution between those areas in Supreme Court appeals; expertise in any specific subject matter that regularly features in appeals and is currently under-represented on the court; and ensuring that members of the Supreme Court are reasonably reflective of the diversity of Canadian society.

5. How was functional bilingualism assessed in the Independent Advisory Board process?

Candidates indicated on their application package their proficiency in both official languages. The Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs conducted individual assessments of some candidates to ascertain their understanding of written and oral arguments, as well as to determine whether candidates have the ability to speak in both official languages.

6. What weight was regional representation given in the Independent Advisory Board selection process?

Regional representation was a factor for consideration. This was made clear in the publicly posted criteria, including the commitment to appoint judges who are functionally bilingual. The selection process included an appropriate degree of flexibility to balance the overlap between institutional needs with individual skills, experience and qualities of candidates themselves.

7. How many names did the Independent Advisory Board recommend to the Prime Minister?

A shortlist of 5 candidates was submitted.

C. Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada process:

8. What process did the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada follow?

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada underwent a rigorous and exhaustive jurisprudential and academic review of each candidate. She also engaged in robust consultations with the Chief Justice of Canada, the Chair of the Independent Advisory Board, the relevant Attorneys General, members of the Cabinet, members of the House Justice and Human Rights Committee, members of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Opposition Justice Critics.

9. What stakeholders were consulted?

The Government engaged with all official parties in the House of Commons to ensure that the process of appointing Supreme Court of Canada justices was open, transparent, and set a higher standard for accountability. During the establishment of the Independent Advisory Board, the Government consulted with representatives from the judiciary and the legal community, including: the Canadian Judicial Council, the Canadian Bar Association, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the Council of Canadian Law Deans. Further, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada engaged with prominent and well respected Canadians from outside the legal community. More information will be available in the Independent Advisory Board’s Report.

D. Nominee:

10. If the nominee is successful what would the length of their appointment and salary be?

Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada receive an annual salary of $373,900 (as of April 1, 2016) and hold office during good behaviour until the age of 75.

11. Did anything controversial come up in the vetting of the nominee?

All nominees underwent exhaustive assessments by the Independent Advisory Board and the Minister of Justice and screening by Canadian security authorities. Elements of their assessment and screening included:

  • Assessment  of the their personal qualities against the following criteria: irreproachable personal and professional integrity; respect and consideration for others; the ability to appreciate a diversity of views, perspectives, and life experiences, including those relating to historically disadvantaged groups in Canadian society; moral courage; discretion; and open-mindedness.
  • A complete review of the candidate’s jurisprudence, academic writing and professional publications.
  • An intensive security background check.

The successful nominee passed all these assessments and screenings.

12. Did the nominee undergo a thorough security check prior to their nomination?

All candidates were required to submit to a 4-way background check, as set out in the background screening consent form accessed via the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs web site.

E. Special Justice and Human Rights Committee Hearing

13. What is the hearing for?

The hearing is to provide Parliamentarians the opportunity to better understand: (1) the due diligence and consultation process used by our Government; and, (2) the reasons why this nominee was selected.  In so doing, it will provide Canadians an opportunity to better understand this nominee and the role and function of the Supreme Court of Canada as well as the Government's commitment to openness, transparency, and diversity to ensuring that our judiciary maintains its reputation of excellence. ‎

14. Who will be participating?

The Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould and the Chair of the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments the Right Honourable Kim Campbell will be in attendance.

Members of the House Justice Committee will be able to ask questions of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Chair of the Independant Advisory Board.

F.  QA Session with the Nominee

15. What is the upcoming QA session with the nominee for?

It will provide an opportunity for Canadians to get to know the nominee to our country's highest court.

16. Where will it take place?

The nominee will take part in a townhall session moderated by a law professor at the University of Ottawa on October 25, 2016.

17. Who is allowed to attend?

Parliamentarians, special guests and law students from across the country.

18. Who will be allowed to ask the nominee questions?

The following Parliamentarians may ask questions: members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights; members of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs; and, certain members of the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party.

19. How was the event’s moderator selected?

The Prime Minister will select the moderator.