Improve Judicial Appointment Process
The CBA wants the government to improve the federal judicial appointment process to reinforce public confidence that appointments are being made on the basis of merit. That was the message CBA President Brian A. Tabor, QC brought to the Commons Sub-Committee on Judicial Appointments on November 1, 2005.
- Two-year “cooling-off” period for Cabinet Ministers, MPs, Senators, MLAs
- Recognize skills of candidates with diverse backgrounds
- No appointment unless the candidate is recommended by the committee
“Canadians expect, and are entitled to have, judges who are well qualified and independent of political influence. If judicial candidates were intimately involved in the political sphere close to the time when they were appointed, public perception of patronage would be heightened,” says the CBA’s 10-page submission.
At the same time, the submission also notes that political activity shows a commitment to community involvement – a factor that is considered an attribute of a good judge. “Those who have been active in political life should not automatically be disqualified,” says Mr. Tabor. “Any restrictions on a candidate’s political activities must be consistent with our democratic values – and that includes political involvement.”
The CBA is also encouraging the federal government to give appropriate recognition to the skills of candidates with diverse backgrounds. “Merit criteria now specifically include considerations of whether a candidate will contribute to the diversity of the bench,” says the submission.
Cancun Update - Mid-Winter 2006 - Register Now!
Cleanup operations following Hurricane Wilma are in full swing, and as of November 8, the CBA is advised that the Omni Cancun will be fully operating by January 31, 2006. Extra time has been allotted to ensure the hotel is in tip-top shape for a best-ever Mid-Winter meeting. CBA Council members are encouraged to register without delay as hotel space is filling up quickly!
National Magazine: Focus on Diversity
The current issue of National magazine is now available online. Read the digital National's October/November 2005 issue for stories on diversity, real estate, legal research, starting your own firm, and other hot topics. Take advantage of the digital format to flip pages online, print out PDF versions, and more!
Don't Compromise Lawyer-Client Confidentiality
Solicitor-client privilege and confidentiality must not be compromised says a CBA brief on Bill C-53, Criminal Code (proceeds of crime) and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act Amendments. The legislation has the potential to erode the lawyer-client relationship through a search warrant scheme that could apply to law offices. The CBA says special rules must be followed for searches where privileged or confidential materials are likely to be located.
The CBA has serious concerns about section 462.46, that would allow documents seized through a search warrant to be copied before being returned, even if a judge ordered them returned because they were seized improperly or in the event of an acquittal.
“It is quite extraordinary that a court might order documents to be returned if an individual is acquitted of charges, yet the Attorney General would continue to take advantage of the seizure of the documents by keeping copies,” says the submission.
The Bill would create a new regime for forfeiture of property believed to be the proceeds of crime, putting the onus on the offender to prove that the property is not proceeds of crime. However, the CBA believes that this provision represents a significant change to our sentencing scheme as forfeiture would be imposed on the standard of a “balance of probabilities” and not the usual standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Heather Perkins-McVey of Ottawa, member of the National Criminal Justice Section, presented the brief to the Commons Justice Committee on November 1, 2005.
Request for Proposals
The Law Commission of Canada and the Canadian Bar Law for the Future Fund are calling for proposals from interested individuals or groups to conduct research on the needs of various communities for improved access to justice. The project should be conducted over an eight-month period beginning no later than March 2006.
These articles were published in the December 2005 issue of BarTalk. © 2005 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.