Episode 35: Justice Minister Arif Virani on criminal law reform, expanding MAiD and the state of our

Jingle: You’re listening to Modern Law, presented by the Candaian Bar Association’s National Magazine.

Yves Faguy: Hi, welcome to Modern Law, I’m Yves Faguy. On the show today we are pleased to welcome the Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada, Arif Virani. Today we’ll be discussing a range of topics: criminal justice reform, the recently announced pause in the expansion of medical assistance in dying, we also talk about the government’s plans to introduce online harms legislation, and of course other important issues such as judicial nominations and the mounting resources challenges that are courts are facing. Minister Virani is the Toronto Member of Parliament for Parkdale High Park and was appointed to his role in Cabinet in July 2023. This interview was recorded on February 9th, a day after the CBA held its annual general meeting.

Yves Faguy: Welcome to Modern Law, Minister Arif Virani.

Arif Virani: Nice to meet you, nice to be here.

Yves: Thank you. Thank you for coming and taking the time to speak with us. Yesterday was the CBA’s AGM and you had some remarks there, but I wanted to dive into some of the issues that came up. As you know, the justice system is under quite a bit of pressure. There are mounting concerns about shrinking resources in the justice system across the country. And at yesterday’s AGM, the Chief Justice of Canada himself referred to this. He expressed concern about access to justice, the impact of lack of resources, and delays, and what that means for the public’s confidence in our justice system.

And by all accounts, judges and all participants in the judicial system are being impacted by budgetary constraints. And this is affecting issues such as even the security of judges, and their personnel and the court personnel. So I’m wondering to what extent this is an issue on your agenda for discussion with your provincial counterparts, and might it be time to raise it up as a priority?

Arif: Thank you for the question, and it’s a pleasure to be here on the podcast and speaking to members of the CBA. What I would say with respect to judicial resources and budgets is that it’s always a concern given that we are in a situation with an expanding population, expanding court structures and pressing judicial needs.

Security, unfortunately, of all personnel, whether that’s judicial or legal professionals or other professionals – I can’t think about Parliamentary security etc. – everything seems to have become accentuated coming out of COVID. And that’s something we need to be alive to and need to be very attentive to.

In terms of conversations with provincial and territorial counterparts, those conversations are already taking place, and we discussed these matters. We have these regulator, federal, provincial, territorial meetings where we discuss the administration of justice in our respective jurisdictions, and addressing these needs is part of that, also addressing the needs of the justice system more broadly. I literally just had a meeting today with Chief Justice Wagner and other judges from around the country as part of a court’s modernization committee. Can you imagine that was created during COVID?

It was critical at the time to just figure out, how do we run a court system during the middle of the pandemic? Even coming out of the pandemic, there’s still a lot of pressure points above concerns that we’re addressing, access to justice, judicial backlogs, the indigenous experience in our courts, for example. But now that I’m also trying to do my utmost in terms of addressing some acute judicial needs that relate to things such as the number of judicial appointments, I’m trying to do that as expeditiously as possible. I’m quite proud of the fact I have appointed 62 since I was first put into this office about six months ago, and I’m determined to keep up that pace.

Myself, combined with David Lametti last year, we appointed 100 new individuals, which is a pretty favourable contrast to the average number of appointments per year under the previous government’s tenure, which was about 65 per year. So there’s a number of pressure points and we’re trying to address all of them at the same time, including the security needs that the courts in Canada are facing.

Yves: How would you frame the biggest challenge in this, because he did send a bit of alarm, the Chief Justice of Canada yesterday, and I’m just wondering. I understand that there have been a lot of appointments that have been made. The vacancy rate kind of always tends to hover around 8%, and I know it seems to be difficult to dent more than that. And it’s not just the vacancy rate. I’m trying to get a sense of how come it’s difficult to get those resources into the justice system, or is it a problem? Are resources detracting from what the real problem is?

Arif: Well, I think diagnosing it is critical, getting to the root sort of causes of the problem. Let’s take appointments first. So you’re right, we appointed 100 judges last year. We started out the year in January 2023 with about 85 vacancies. You would have thought we’d be at a plus 15, but we’re not. We’re still at a situation where there are many vacancies, partly because of retirements, which are foreseeable, partly because people are electing to go what’s called supernumerary.

So I think trying to understand and calibrate that situation is important. I think the very acute pressure points relate to sort of the needs. There are just litigation needs in our courts. They are sort of staffing and budgetary issues that relate to the provinces’ responsibility for the administration of justice. So know that while I appoint members in superior court in provinces in the country, those courthouses in those courts are administered by the provinces, and that’s the way our constitutional architecture is set up.

I think there are also issues – we’ve made very strong changes with respect to official languages, and the official language at, and that includes translation of court cases that have precedential value. That creates an additional concern for the courts. I understand that. I’m sensitive to it but I’m also sensitive in terms of standing up for bilingualism. You are a [baro 00:05:43] Canadienne. So your members include people right across the country, including people from the province of Quebec and francophones outside of Quebec.

That being the case, we are always going to stand up for official languages and for the protection of both of our official languages, and for the promotion of those languages, that we need to ensure calibrating that protection with the fact that our courts need support in order to deliver on those important commitments that we’re making. So I think there’s a role for us to play.

I think there’s a role for the Attorney General of Ontario and all of the other provinces to play in terms of ensuring their court systems are staffed and resourced appropriately, including the security needs, because one thing we’ve learned over the past three or four years is that there’s been increasing levels of concern about security for people in the public eye and people who are doing high levels of public service. And I don’t want to dissuade people from attaining those offices. I want to encourage them, and making sure they’re protected and safe is part of that encouragement.

Yves: This safety issue is a matter though for the users of the justice system, and even some of the not so high profile people involved. In Longueuil a couple of weeks ago, in the courthouse there was a knife attack, and I think it was a court interpreter who suffered the brunt of that. So it’s not just about protecting the judges either, it’s also just the court personnel.

Arif: Theres no doubt, and that’s entirely unacceptable. People who are doing that important level of service to our community to help us administer our courts, they need to feel safe in the court environment and that goes without saying. My heart goes out to those court workers in Longueuil in what just transpired. But I know that these incidents occur and we’ve got to make sure that we are being very diligent to keep our court staff, our court personnel and our courts themselves safe.

But at the same time I want to also encourage. On a slightly different tact, what I’ve been seeing, particularly in Quebec, are efforts to make the courthouses more accessible and more open and more welcoming to different kinds of litigants. And there, I’m speaking about something called sexual violence courts where the hostility and adversarial nature and sometimes re-traumatization that victims of sexual violence sometimes feel in our run of the mill courthouses. That’s being lessened and attenuated by a new model and a new way of thinking about how we address the court system.

While there are a lot of concerns, there are also a lot of innovations that are happening, and I’m here to sort of try an address both, meet the concerns where they’re needed but also power the innovation.

Yves: Switching topics, your government announced another pause on the planned expansion of medical assistance in dying, the two year exclusion, people whose sole condition is a mental disorder. As it happened yesterday, there was also a resolution at the CBA AGM that was defeated that would have said that extending MAID to persons whose sole underlying medical condition is a psychiatric condition, would have had a disproportionate gendered impact and risk violating section 15.

That resolution was defeated. But the provinces are calling for an indefinite pause. There are critics who take the view that MAID’s expansion goes far beyond what is required by the Quebec Superior Court’s ruling in Truchon. So I’m trying to figure out where is this debate going? There’s obviously a legal dynamic. There’s a political component as well. Is there, for you, still a legal preoccupation that the government feels it needs to address with respect to issues of constitutionality?

Arif: Well, is MAID a concern for me and my government? Absolutely. It has been since we took office in 2015 when we immediately responded to Carter. What I would say to people listening is that our approach to MAID has always been constantly informed by a couple of things. It’s about this basic idea of you try to empower the autonomy and the dignity of the individual to make choices, including their eventual passing, and make those choices independently in a matter that enhances their dignity but at the same time, always ensuring that we’re protecting those who are vulnerable.

In trying to find that balance, that’s where things get difficult. You saw our first salvo in 2016. You saw a second salvo responding to the decision you just mentioned, the Truchon decision where we expanded it from not just those who are at the end of life in a sort of a “terminal” situation, to those including people whose deaths were not reasonably foreseeable. With respect to mental illness, I’d say to you that, quite candidly, there are people in Parliament who want us to say never, this will never happen for somebody where mental illness is a sole underlying condition.

Other people, they’re saying, including in Parliament, that it should happen tomorrow. And what we’re saying is no to both of those groups. What we’re seeing is that it will happen but it’s not going to happen immediately. And the bill that’s in front of Parliament right now is to put a pause in this for three years, and that’s because we’re trying to be responsible and prudent in terms of how we are handling this issue. For all of the lawyers who are listening, which is everyone I presume – and maybe there’s something very adherent to all lawyers that listen to CBA podcast.

Yves: They’re all listening.

Arif: But they know that healthcare is a primary service delivery model that is governed by the provinces, not exclusively. We have federal jurisdiction over First Nations reserves and over certain select personnel etc., but in the main in this country, we deliver healthcare but at the provincial level. For us to proceed when we’ve heard unanimously from every single minister of health, provincially or territorially, in this province that they are not ready, when we’ve heard the same information from CAMH and from the mental health association, when we’ve heard the same evidence at committee, that committee was just restruck, the joint committee and MPs and senators, from psychiatrists, doctors and nurses, made of assessors and providers, that they’re not ready, it would have been I would say imprudent and likely irresponsible for us to proceed at this point.

So we are waiting for the curriculum that’s to be developed to have take-up, to be ascribed to and for people to learn about how to really tailor those safeguards in the context of mental illness as a sole underlying condition. So it is a preoccupation, to answer your question. It is a concern that will remain a concern for us because I’m always trying to find that balance of Minister of Justice. My colleague, the Minister of Health, Mark Holland, is very keenly aware of the fact that we need to have the healthcare system ready to do this, and do this appropriately.

There are consequential decisions in government and in Parliament, but there’s noting more consequential or significant than deciding the context, circumstances and timing of someone’s passing. That is by definition a decision that you cannot return from. So we’re going to make absolutely certain that we’re ready to do it in a manner that’s appropriate.

Yves: You also mentioned in your remarks yesterday the need to fight racism in our justice system. And I want to talk about this disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on indigenous, racialized and marginalized communities. I think few would dispute that it’s been getting worse and worse for years. In the case of indigenous incarceration rates, it was sitting at about 16%, 17% back in 2001, and it has essentially risen to the 30s, 30% a couple of years ago. I think it might have dropped in the last couple of years a tad, but not very much.

And I know you mentioned that there are plans afoot for an indigenous justice strategy, or a black justice strategy. But I want you to address this because – to simplify or over-simplify things a little bit – there are two ways of going about this, about criticizing our justice system. You’ve got the tough on crime camp. But then you also have those who are critical of this tinkering on the edges of a justice system that is just sticking to the status quo and getting worse. And I’m wondering what are your thoughts on that? If you were to have an honest conversation, and an open conversation with Canadians about what it is that we need to start thinking about, what would that be?

Arif: Great question. I think the honest conversation starts with looking at sort of where we are in terms of our justice system, and the stats are not appropriate. In many respects, they’re quite shocking. I think you alluded to that. The stats that we saw when we were dealing with mandatory minimum penalties were something in the order of about a six-fold increase as compared to the number of indigenous people in this country versus the number of indigenous people that are represented in the correction system, so something like 5% or 6% of the population versus 30% of the prison population. For the black, Canadian population it was something like 3% of Canadians are black and about 7% to 8% of the prison population are black Canadians.

Those are alarming and they should be alarming, so that’s where I’d start. In terms of how we address it, I think we have to do a lot of navel gazing. We have to really think about what’s causing this phenomenon and about the sensitization and the awareness and understanding in terms of all components of the system. So that starts with policing, it includes Crown and defence counsel, it includes judges and then it includes corrections. And that’s what that indigenous justice strategy, and the black justice strategy that I mentioned in the video that was presented yesterday, is referring to because it’s about really taking a hard look at overrepresentation, understanding that racism has informed our justice system for a long, long time, and it is systemic. What I mean by that, it’s not individual acts of racist persons. It’s about our norms, our rules and how they are constructed within the system, and then really trying to break them down.

I’ll tell you quite candidly, I literally just had a meeting with Chief Justice Wagner, as I was mentioning, and we were talking about issues that relate to the indigenous court worker program. And some people may be very familiar with that who are listening right now. Some people may have never heard about it. But it’s basically about people that are implanted in court rooms right around this country and help with the interaction between indigenous accused and our justice system, whether that’s criminal, family law, civil law, you name it.

What they’re there to do is help people navigate through that system. Some of those indigenous folks are elders, and when you incorporate elders, people who are automatically respected, the indigenous folks that are coming through, all of a sudden you have a completely different interaction, and you get a better understanding of that individual accused, and a better understanding on the part of the judge on how to treat that individual accused, including what kind of penalty. Do they need more time on the land? Do they need more time with their family? Do they need more time in a correctional facility? What kind of correction facility?

So it’s in rethinking those patterns. That’s when we get at the heart of recidivism which is what ultimately I think all of us want to see, is less recidivism, fewer interactions with the justice system, more rehabilitation, and heling people to become contributing members of society. And I think this is something where you’ve got very, very fundamental differences of opinion, including in Parliament, where you mentioned tough on crime – I don’t find some of the policies that I hear about from the official opposition as particularly tough at all. I actually think they’re not that smart on crime, and what I’d like to be is more smart on crime, including the root causes of criminality. It’s when you get to those root causes, that’s when you can actually make a substantive difference.

Am I committed to this or worked up about it? Absolutely I am. I think what you need to know, Yves, is that my entire root as an adult, as a law school student, as a lawyer, and now as a Parliamentarian who finds himself Justice Minister, has been informed by three basic ideas: promote the quality, combat discrimination, and promote human rights. Those things have guided me always, and now I have the opportunity to use that thematic idea, and it’s informed by the podium that the Prime Minister has given me.

And I’m not going to squander the opportunity. Is it hard? Of course it’s hard. Everyone wants to be safe in their communities, but when you look at indigenous overrepresentation and black overrepresentation, it’s really, really interesting because I could talk at length about this, but it’s on both ends of the justice system, both as victims and as accused persons, because I’ve equally heard about the lack of responsiveness from our police officials, from our court system, etc., when indigenous communities or black communities are facing criminality or crimes or violence, and then the police response or the law enforcement response is too slow.

So it cuts in a lot of different directions and I think we’ve got to address it in a multifaceted manner, but it’s hard work. But I’m committed to doing it. Thankfully, the Prime Minister is equally committed because there are a lot of steps we’ve taken with that bill that repealed so many mandatory minimum penalties, and there are more steps to come.

Yves: The other component to it, and I’m wondering if this goes into your justice strategy at all, but we had Benjamin Perrin on the show, a lawyer and author of “Indictment.” He was talking about that his book is really an indictment of the criminal justice system. One of the big issues he brings up though is that the whole mental health issue component just goes completely unaddressed in our criminal justice system. And again, the rates of people suffering from mental health, serious mental health issues in our justice system is quite high. I’m wondering, is this going to be part of the strategy at all?

Arif: I think it has to be, to be totally honest. I think, Yves, it’s the third time somebody’s raised this with me in the last 36 hours. I think there’s a few sort of ways that I would address that. It has to be an informed part of an indigenous justice strategy and a black justice strategy. I think the reason it has to be is because you need to understand the pernicious impact that racism, indigenous racism, and anti-black racism has on the mental health of individuals. Sometimes they find themselves in confrontations with the law. I think it also has to inform. When I was talking about the root causes of criminality, we’re trying to look at a number of things.

Just today, the Prime Minister is in Toronto signing a healthcare agreement about the delivery of billions of dollars to the Province of Ontario in terms of healthcare supports. One of the four or five areas that we highlighted: that need to be addressed by both the province that I represent in Parliament, but also every other province that’s receiving healthcare dollars is having an acute focus on mental health. I think it would be irresponsible for us not to target our dollars in that manner, particularly coming out of COVID.

But I think the mental health of everyone in the system – I mean, you talked about judges, courts, now being in some respects fearing for their own personal safety while they’re doing their work in a particular courthouse. That’s got to have a traumatic impact on individuals’ mental health. So I think mental health has got to be woven into many of the conversations that we’re having in terms of how responsive we are to the supports that people need, and also how to cure some of that recidivism.

Now it’s not just recently. It’s been about three or four years now where we have a minister of mental health, separated out from the minister of health, because it’s such an acute focus. We’ve seen that in many nations around the planet, and I think that’s a step in terms of acknowledging the importance and the coming to the fore of these issues as issues that were once stigmatized but now need to be addressed. But I think, to circle back to your question, the mental health of people who are both on the receiving end of the justice system but also participants in working the justice system, has got to be a focus for me and will be a focus for me going forward.

Yves: It’s not a bad segue to my next question which is the challenge of our online world. Your government has been facing some pressure to introduce long promised online harms legislation. I understand it’s on the way. So we’ve had these debates in the past and I think the last bill died on the order paper, but what’s tricky about crafting this legislation for you? What’s tricky about crafting this legislation in 2024?

Arif: This legislation and the need to legislate in the area is more pressing now than ever. And now I’m speaking to you not as the Minister of Justice, I’m speaking to you as a dad of two boys. One of them is keen to get any phone. The other one’s keen to move from a flip phone to a smartphone. And you’ve got his mother and I who are petrified of what he's going to discover in the world of social media and apps, and all of these things that are out there, and I would say actually lurking out there in terms of the ability of people to be lured, kids to be trafficked, bullied, intimidated, lured into self-harm, extorted. You name it, there are a lot of scary things that are happening out there.

So I feel it’s incumbent upon us to be acting and acting quickly and comprehensively. I’m very privileged that the Prime Minister has asked me to take the lead on this particular file. What’s tricky is that I think the conversation has shifted in the last three, four, five years. But when I first got elected in 2015, people were like, “Well, that’s the internet and that’s just this ungovernable mass that we really can’t touch. It’s sort of terra incognito.” We moved a long way from that to the point where we are addressing things that relate to the internet, whether it’s electoral advertising. We’ve seen initiatives to support local news content. We’ve seen issues that relate to supporting Canadian content and treating internet providers the same way you treat a Bell or a Rogers etc., in terms of requirements to produce Canadian content.

But I also think what’s changed is people’s sensitivity and impatience with some of these platforms, because they’re seeing for every Francis Hogan who goes out there and is a whistleblower in terms of what major platforms are doing or not doing and actually profiteering on clickbait material that is either exploitative of children or women, actually promoting hatred and division, that’s a concern and it should be a concern.

So what I’d say to you is that I as the Minister of Justice have a responsibility to keep people safe. I keep them safe as best I can in the physical world. I need to keep them safe in the online world as well. I think that’s a basic proposition the communities can get behind. I, as the Minister of Justice swear a very unique oath as well, which is an oath to uphold allegiance to the Crown and uphold the laws of Canada. But that includes the Constitution of Canada. And I take the charter and the rights entrenched in section two very, very seriously. Those entrench the right to freedom of expression. So the second you wade into this area, it tiggers concerns about freedom of expression, which are valid. I would say those are absolutely valid.

But what I would say is that an approach that actually empowers expression, that empowers people to participate online, to have more control over and autonomy over what they’re seeing online and catering their own experience online, is actually fulfilling the freedom of expression. That’s what’s important for people to understand and to appreciate. So am I motivated by this file? Absolutely. Is there an imperative to keep people safe, particularly children and those who are vulnerable? 1000%. Is it going to be carefully calibrated? Again, 1000%, because this is not about telling people what they can and cannot say or do online. It’s about ensuring that the rules that we already have in place in the physical world are replicated in the online world where more and more people are spending their time.

And if you’re listening to the news today, Yves, you heard yet again about groups that exist sometimes on the dark web. They’re actually luring children into self-harm mutilation and even acts of suicide as some form of bizarre fetishization of children hurting themselves. Again, as a parent, I can’t countenance that, and that’s why we’re determined to act.

Yves: Is legislation coming soon?

Arif: I hope very soon. We’ve really worked hard on this legislation and sometimes we get criticized. I’ve been doing this eight and a half years now. “Did you talk to the right people? Have you consulted the right groups?” We’ve consulted extensively about this bill. We’ve taken it through different iterations. You said so yourself that one bill died on the order paper. That was the piece I was working, on particularly with the Canada Human Rights Act and the criminal code when I was David Lametti’s Parliamentary secretary. The new proposal is larger than just that. It looks at criminal code tools, Canadian Rights Act tools. It also looks at how you address what’s going on with the platforms and ensuring responsibility has some backing in accountability.

And the consultations have been extensive through expert groups, advisory groups, academia, everyday Canadians. There’s been a lot of input we have received and we’ve looked across the pond and indeed around the world at things that have worked and haven’t worked in other parts of the world, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, the EU. So there are lots of things we’re working on. I literally just had a meeting with Britain. If you’re following this closely, Britain just enacted their online safety legislation. It received royal assent in October of last year. So I’ve had active discussions with the British Parliamentarians that were leading that bill to learn about what’s working and what isn’t so that we can come up with the most appropriate and Canadian tailored response.

Yves: I think we might have time for one last question. Last year, Saskatchewan passed a pronoun bill using the notwithstanding clause. Alberta’s premier has now said that we should be expecting measures on pronouns as well. I know you’ve said that you have concerns with these policies. New Brunswick’s parental rights legislation has also been criticized by your government. So how do you see this issue playing out over the next little while? This seems to be a debate that as much as some people would rather not have, a lot of people seem to be intent on having the debate. Is this going to be something that we’re going to be talking about going into the next election?

Arif: Well, Yves, let me just say to you again that I try and approach this from multiple perspectives. But when we’re talking about children growing up and confronting the things that you and I confronted when we were adolescents as well, it’s tough, but I approach it primarily from the perspective of the parent. And I know that thus far I’ve been able to have a lot of pretty blunt conversations with my two boys, who are nine and thirteen, about things that they might be confused about, and things that they might be exploring, and just going from being children to adolescents to becoming men.

I’m confident that the vast majority of Canadian families are able to have those conversations as well, but I know that that’s not uniform, that there’s a small portion of Canadian families where kids aren’t able to have those conversations with their parents. For that subsection of kids who are also questioning who they are and questioning maybe their sexuality or how they identify, whether they’re non-binary, whether they’re queer, LGBTQ2S+. What I see in those kids is a group of people that are vulnerable, probably a little bit scared, and people that need our support and not to be isolated, targeted or even demonized. And that’s what troubles me about what’s going on.

And when you compound that with, in the case of Saskatchewan invoking legislation hot on the heels of an injunction that was granted and invoking the notwithstanding clause, our position as a government on the notwithstanding clause is quite clear that if you’re going to invoke it, it should be a tool of last resort and there should be some parameters that guide its usage. Certainly it’s never been used by a federal government. So to use it in this kind of situation so pre-emptively is, as I’ve called it before, a bit of a blunt instrument to deal with a minority of a minority of kids.

What I would instead like to see, rather than pontifications from Premier Danielle Smith, because that’s all they are right now. There’s nothing for us to look at. There’s no policy guideline. There’s no legislation for us to evaluate. It’s just a bit of a thought bubble for Premier Smith. But it stands in stark contrast to the way I’m coded as a minister of justice to the way our government operates in terms of standing up for people who are vulnerable and minorities that are in need of protection, as opposed to vilifying them or targeting them, sometimes what looks like for pure political gain.

Yves: There’s been talk that the government might at one point ask for a reference on the pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause. Is there a reason why that hasn’t happened?

Arif: I can’t opine on whether that kind of reference may be initiated or not. What I can say to you is that we’re very concerned by the use of the notwithstanding clause. What we’ve seen by many provinces around the country, either its actual use or its threatened use, we’re following the cases closely including cases that are already on their way up to the Supreme Court. I think you should be guided by the cases that we decide to intervene on. And in some cases, they’re still working their way through the system. We’ve been quite open about our intentions that if they do end up in the Supreme Court of Canada, we will be there to articulate the views of Canadians, to articulate the views of the federal government and to stand up for the charter.

Yves: Minister of Justice, Arif Virani and Attorney General of Canada, thank you very much for joining us on Modern Law. We appreciate you taking the time to speak to our audience.

Arif: Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure to be on. And can I put in a shameless pitch for all of the smart lawyers that are out there that may be considering a potential role on the bench? I can only appoint as many distinguished jurors as I have that are in the applicant pool. So please consider if you’re more than 10 years of call and you feel like you have the ability and aptitude to serve as member of the bench, that is what we need. We need distinguished people serving and to continue that service as a lawyer in terms of a potential judicial applicant.

Yves: Do you think sometimes some of those candidates who don’t apply or potential candidates who don’t apply, sell themselves short?

Arif: I do. I very much do. I think sometimes people don’t see themselves here. They think, “Well, I’m 10 or 11 years out. That’s for somebody who’s 20 years out.” And what I always say to people is that if you think even one of your colleagues has the chops to apply, have a quiet word with them. That can go a long, long way. And many of the people that I’ve had the fortune to appoint among those 62 men, people that I’ve mentioned, have said to me exactly that, that I would never have even gotten to this place were it not have been for a quiet word from that motion’s court judge, from that master, from the person who I appear before in this juror court, in court on appeal, in provincial court, as the case may be.

So that goes a long way. So I mean it very seriously when I say I want people to consider the noble profession of being a jurist. It is very noble. It’s a distinguished role. But I also would like to increase the diversity on the bench and have the judges of this country reflect the litigants that are before them. And that’s something that I’m deeply committed to as well.

Yves: Well, thank you very much. And thanks again for joining us.

Arif: Thank you very much for having me. Take care.