For the first time, any qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada through the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. To enhance transparency, the assessment criteria guiding the Advisory Board, the questionnaire that all applicants must answer, and certain answers provided to the questionnaire by the Prime Minister’s eventual nominee, will all be made public. The Minister of Justice and the chair of the Advisory Board will appear before Parliament to discuss the selection process. A number of Members of Parliament and Senators – from all parties – will also have the opportunity to take part in a Q&A session with the eventual nominee, before she or he is appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Fundamentally, this process will demonstrate a degree of rigor and responsibility that Canadians expect from their government.
Rev. Rick Myer, coordinator of the Disciples Centre for Public Witness in Canada applauded the move. “The Supreme Court of Canada is generally respected by our citizens as competent and fair”, he said. “This nonpartisan move by the current government builds on this excellence and helps the selection process for justices to be even more transparent. We certainly support this as an action that will enhance good government and impartial justice for all."
Trudeau also expects the new process to bring more transparency. “The Supreme Court of Canada is respected nationally and internationally for its excellence—it is recognized as a model of a strong, independent judicial institution. This is due in no small part to a tradition of appointing only the most exceptional and impressive individuals to the court. We are committed to maintaining this tradition—and improving on it—by introducing an open, transparent and non-partisan process that will help ensure that the best, most well-qualified people reflective of Canadian society are named to Canada’s top court.”
The application period ends on Wednesday, August 24. Qualified lawyers and persons holding judicial office from across Canada who wish to be considered for the upcoming vacancy must complete and submit an application package no later than 23:59 Pacific daylight time on August 24, 2016.