Canadian Bar Association joins national call for more diversity in judicial appointments

  • September 14, 2020

OTTAWA, Sept. 14, 2020 – The Canadian Bar Association is calling on the federal government to put its stated commitment to diversity in leadership into action by appointing more Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to the federal benches.

The CBA is adding its voice to a growing chorus of equality-seeking groups in the legal profession to encourage the government to ensure that the federal bench reflects the diversity of the population it serves.

 The changes the federal government made in 2016 to the way judges are appointed haven’t resulted in an appreciably more diverse bench, say Brad Regehr and Vivene Salmon, the current and immediate past presidents of the CBA, in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Justice Minister David Lametti. “It is disconcerting that in 2020 there has never been a BIPOC individual appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, given the diversity of the legal talent across the country.”

The judiciary in Canada remains overwhelmingly white, meaning judges lack first-hand knowledge and experience of the racism and systemic challenges faced by people of colour. A more racially diverse judiciary would have more credibility among members of equality-seeking communities.

The CBA does its part through initiatives that encourage members to apply to the bench. It asks the federal government to review and revise the criteria that might create barriers to diverse lawyers. It urges the government to fill current vacancies with qualified BIPOC applicants.

Quick facts:

  • In 2019, only three per cent of federal judicial appointees identified as Indigenous
  • In 2019 only eight per cent of federal appointees identified as visible minorities
  • As of Sept. 1 there were 57 vacancies in the Federal Courts, Superior Courts and Courts of Appeal across Canada. Two vacancies will open on the Supreme Court when Justice Abella reaches mandatory retirement age in 2021 and Justice Moldaver in 2022.

Link to letter

Please contact Kim Covert to arrange an interview.

About the CBA

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries in Quebec, law teachers and law students from across Canada are members.