CBA President’s statement on Supreme Court of Canada appointment process

  • March 26, 2019

The CBA has a long tradition of working for a fair, formal process for the appointment of judges in Canada. The integrity of that process is critical, to ensure public confidence in the courts.

As an advocate for a process that opens the doors to a wider range of applicants, makes a measured consideration of qualifications, and frees the proceedings from undue partisan influence, the Canadian Bar Association was pleased when, in 2016, the government introduced a more transparent process for the appointment Supreme Court of Canada judges.

An advisory board (led to date by former prime minister Kim Campbell and on which the CBA participates) reviews applicants, compiles a shortlist of candidates, and reports to the Prime Minister. The Minister of Justice undertakes consultations on the report. The deliberations of the panel and the Minister are confidential.

“There is a process to get informed input about the merits of the applicants. It rightly goes on behind closed doors. Keeping the deliberations confidential respects the privacy of applicants and guards against interference,” said CBA President Ray Adlington. “Breaching confidentiality by releasing the names and commenting on the suitability of the other applicants after the appointment demeans the selection process and ultimately all those who hold the office of judge.”

“We believe there should be a full discussion about the nominees between the Justice Minister and the Prime Minister. The final decision for Supreme Court of Canada appointments always rests solely with the Prime Minister.”