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View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2020-03-09 19:09 [p.1840]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his contributions in the last Parliament in the justice committee and for raising this important issue this evening.
Devoting time to considering judicial appointments and the judicial appointment process is critically important. A high-quality superior court judiciary is essential to the fair and effective functioning of our justice system.
We on this side of the House are proud of the merit-based, diverse appointments that we have made. Since taking office, we have made 350 outstanding individuals, who reflect the face of Canada, eligible to serve on our superior courts either through direct appointments or through elevations.
As all members of this House can attest, we are fortunate in Canada to have a strong and independent judiciary. Canadians know they can turn to the courts to resolve their disputes and uphold their rights and freedoms. They know that the judges that serve them are not beholden to other branches of government nor to any powerful groups or interests in society.
However, we cannot take this for granted. Every single day we must strive to uphold the institutions and values that make it possible to live in a free, just and democratic society. Fundamental to upholding these institutions and values is working to ensure that the public has confidence in the justice system.
That very point was made by the member opposite, ensuring the public has confidence in the administration of justice. That is actually outlined in the Constitution. It is such a fundamental precept.
This includes trusting that there is a rigorous process in place to appoint judges. To bolster this trust, our government in 2016 introduced important reforms to strengthen the superior court appointments process.
What has that process resulted in? We overhauled that process and we did it deliberately. We wanted to ensure the bench reflected the Canadians who the bench serves. What we have done in elevating 357 judges, 293 who are new appointments and 64 elevations, is appoint 53% female judges. By contrast, the previous government appointed 32% women to Canada's superior courts. Of the judges appointed under our process, 3% are indigenous, 8% are racialized Canadians, 5% identify as LGBTQ2 and 33% are functioning bilingual.
Why is this important? Why am I listing these statistics and putting them into the record for tonight's discussion? Because I agree with the member opposite. Canadians need to have confidence in the administration of justice, Canadians watching tonight and Canadians right across the country.
How do we ensure that confidence? We ensure that litigants who appear before our courts see themselves reflected in those courts, and that means Canadians of all backgrounds, all races, all religions, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be able to see themselves in front of that bench. We are doing that with these appointments.
To state that people better be Liberal in order to get appointed is patently false and does not denote the actual record, which is that we have appointed people who have been involved in political affiliations, political donations or political partisan activities from all major parties in the country. We are proud of that record.
We are ensuring we have a qualified bench, a meritorious bench that continues the tradition of fine judge-making in the country, which we are known for around the world.
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