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Olena Ponomarenko
View Olena Ponomarenko Profile
Olena Ponomarenko
2015-05-11 17:04
Good day. It is great to be here.
My name is Olena Ponomarenko. I am the head of the secretariat of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine.
It's a body that oversees judicial appointments, specifically for those being appointed for the first time as well as those judges who want to transfer to a different court or to a different level of court. As you may know, a judicial appointment is a two-phase process in Ukraine. An initial appointment is for five years. Whenever there's a second appointment, it's for life. We also administer the second appointment for life.
Another function the commission performs is a disciplinary review whenever there is a complaint. Jointly with the National School of Judges of Ukraine, we are also responsible for providing training and professional development to judges.
Thank you.
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:37
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This meeting has significantly changed. We were supposed to have here the new commissioner, who is nominated for a six-month period. It is fundamental to our democracy that commissioners appear in front of committees when they're nominated. This last minute decision not to appear is a contempt for the importance of our parliamentary institutions.
I also noticed that the Privacy Commissioner has not been allowed to appear in front of the committee on Bill C-51. This is a habit that the Conservatives are getting into, of muzzling commissioners. It is fundamental to ensure, when we make nominations of this importance to Canada and to Canadians, that we have a chance as parliamentarians to question the competencies and the quality of the nominee. I think it's unconscionable, Mr. Chair, that the commissioner is not here today.
What happened? I need to know what happened, first of all. This meeting has been cut in half, and something fundamental to the health of our democracy has been tampered with. I expect some kind of justification. The commissioner just cannot decide, “I'm going to wake up this morning, and Parliament doesn't matter.” He or she, depending on the commissioner, has a responsibility to come here when called upon and to be questioned.
I think this is a serious matter that we need to give full consideration to before we hear from our other invitees today.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Ravignat. I understand your point. We did have a meeting scheduled to hear from the newly nominated integrity commissioner today, and at the last minute he has notified our committee that he will not be attending.
I have a speakers list.
Mr. Byrne, you wanted the floor briefly.
I'm going to ask—when you're done, Mr. Byrne, and perhaps Mr. Warkentin as well—the clerk to explain exactly what he was told by the office of the integrity commissioner as to why he can't attend.
Jean-François Lafleur
View Jean-François Lafleur Profile
Jean-François Lafleur
2015-03-12 11:40
Thank you.
I had a conversation yesterday with the commissioner's office, and there seems to be some confusion around his appearance concerning what he was appearing under. He was notified that he was to appear as interim commissioner, and on the notice of meeting we always write where he is coming from. It said that it was from the office of the commissioner.
So the confusion could have come from there in the sense that his office was probably thinking that he was asked to appear as a commissioner. But underneath, there was the name of the commissioner, Mr. Friday, and it said “Interim Commissioner”, so it was in that capacity that he was invited to appear.
It seems that at his office there was some confusion about that fact, and what I received as information is that he would probably be nominated later, and there was an absolute willingness from his office to appear later as the commissioner—a permanent commissioner, if you wish.
View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Yes. This is getting murkier, Mr. Chair. If I understand it, the requirement under the Governor in Council is for an order in council to be issued for his nomination to be extended as the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
Work with me, Mr. Chair, if you can, because I think we need to get this clarified. As I understood it, the nomination of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner was forwarded to this committee because we have an opportunity as a committee to oversee and to make a recommendation about this particular appointment. The referral was required because the commissioner's former appointment had expired and he is being renominated. Is that—?
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
No. The former commissioner, Mario Dion, is no longer there, and in the interim Mr. Friday was nominated to a six-month term to be the interim integrity commissioner.
View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
No, he is interim commissioner for six months and he's about three months into that six-month appointment. But still, this committee is allowed to and in fact is obliged to vet that appointment.
View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
This makes absolutely no sense. That's why I wanted to work this through, so that we're communicating to Canadians that there is a new commissioner who has never been vetted by a parliamentary committee. The commissioner has been invited, we understand, under very specific directions to appear concerning the nomination itself, and the interim commissioner is saying, “No, I don't think so.”
Mr. Chair, with all due respect to those who have made a decision in this matter—and those decision-makers are not in this committee, but outside of this committee—we have had a very serious breach of trust already occur with a former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. That commissioner was never allowed to appear before this committee. That commissioner was never asked.... The report of the Auditor General was never allowed to be heard by the public accounts committee, which interfaces with the Office of the Auditor General.
Now we have an interim commissioner who holds a very important office—important not only to us as Canadians, but to our parliamentary system and to our system of governing the public sector in a fair and responsible way—and this person has just said he won't appear before us because he's a bit confused.
I am very confused, Mr. Chair. I would like to have the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner come before us so that we can meet him.
View Chris Warkentin Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Martin. I appreciate that.
It is clear to me, based on what the clerk said, that that there was some confusion about the invitation. We are very confident in the ability of Mr. Friday, and I'm certain that when he does come before this committee we will all be satisfied that he has conducted and will continue—
View Greg Kerr Profile
CPC (NS)
View Greg Kerr Profile
2015-03-12 11:48
Mr. Chair, I know a lot of us have been through a lot of committees and a lot of processes before, and certainly know how to detect the bit of posturing that's going on. That's part of what politics is about, but I understand that if you are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, because obviously a lot of comments are being made without knowing some of the background....
I think what Mr. Byrne was suggesting is to let him know that we'd really like him to appear and that we expect him to appear, and leave the door open for him to respond back that the committee would like to hear what he has to say. I think we all would like to hear what he would say, but to put motive in that sort of way, I think, is just absolutely irresponsible. I'd rather give this individual the chance to explain to us in detail what he sees his position is and what's expected. To condemn him blind, I think, is just absolutely irresponsible.
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:49
Condemning him is not the issue here. The issue is that something went awry.
Why did he—and I haven't heard an explanation for this—confirm that he was going to come, knowing very well the content of the letter and that this was about him being appointed for an interim period? All I'm asking with the motion is that he come to committee to explain himself, and talk about his capacity as the commissioner during the six-month interim period. We have a responsibility to review nominations.
The motion is to ensure that the commissioner is at the next meeting and that we have the chance as parliamentarians to do our job and ask him the difficult questions that he needs to answer.
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:51
Who answers to whom? Do we answer to the commissioner? The commissioner answers to this committee. The message that needs to be sent to this commissioner and to all commissioners is that they are responsible and accountable to parliamentarians. This is just a fundamental issue about how our Westminster Parliament functions.
I understand the spirit of Mr. Byrne's amendment, but I think that we need to be clear about the nature of the relationship between commissioners and Parliament in the motion.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
I think Mr. Byrne may have been pointing out as well that it's not quite as simple as saying this committee shall summon the witness. The process is such that I would have to report to the House that a witness was unwilling to attend, and the House—the Speaker in fact—would have to direct a vote in Parliament to compel that witness to attend. It's a multi-step process for the standing committee to exercise their extraordinary powers to compel the attendance of a witness who is otherwise unwilling to attend.
I believe Mr. Byrne's amendment may have been in that vein. It may be a more achievable outcome if we in fact rephrase it to inform him that his attendance is expected.
Mr. Ravignat, and then we really must move on, I believe.
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:53
Well, it may be more achievable, but what the official opposition is concerned about is that this is becoming a pattern. This isn't the first committee that this has happened in. In fact, the Conservative government has instructed the Privacy Commissioner not to attend the discussion going on in committee on Bill C-51.
If this is going to become a pattern, then there needs to be some commitment on behalf of the committee, and maybe this is the place to do it, that all the commissioners be reminded that they have a responsibility to be in committee and to defend themselves and their position.
View Chris Warkentin Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes.
This is getting absolutely ridiculous, to impugn motive without having heard from the interim commissioner. It's absolutely unfortunate and certainly below the office to which the member opposite has been called.
We expect and look forward to hearing from the commissioner, but this has turned into a bit of an unfortunate circumstance. We'll be voting against it, but we look forward to hearing from the commissioner in due course.
View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Chair, this is where we move into murky waters because those who would suggest that we should be careful about our relationships with officers of Parliament, and that we should understand that they are the masters of the House, not us, does no service to the work we do in this committee or as parliamentarians.
An alternative, a reasoned amendment, was offered to collapse the situation and provide some diplomatic resolution to this, which was refused by the government, clearly for a good reason, because while they may protest that this is inflammatory and unnecessary and that their motives should not be impugned here, it is clear to everyone listening to this and watching us and hearing our words that there's more to this than meets the eye.
Mr. Chair, the government was offered a reasoned solution to a diplomatic problem that has now morphed into something clearly much larger because now the government wants us to invite. We are going to the lowest common denominator now because a meeting was offered and rejected, and now this committee is left to simply invite an officer of Parliament to appear before us, as opposed to expressing the expectation that they must appear before us.
This has become escalated at this point in time, and unnecessarily so. I'm not very comfortable about the notion of inviting an officer of Parliament to come before us so that we can examine the nomination and offer a report to the House of Commons as to whether or not we agree or disagree with the nomination. It is our fundamental responsibility as a committee to examine this nomination and to report to the House, not to invite, to expect an appearance by someone who would assume such an office.
I'm not very pleased right now. I thought we had a reasoned opportunity to de-escalate the situation, but now I think we are getting very clear instructions from the government as to who is in charge. Is it the executive or Parliament? The government is telling us it's the executive.
I will not support this.
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:59
I fully agree with my colleague, Mr. Byrne. This has become about clarity, and it's about clarity to the Canadian public with regard to who has the right to call an officer of Parliament. Is it the officer of Parliament who decides, just on a whim, whether or not he's going to show up and be accountable to the Canadian people whom we represent? Or does the committee have the power to make sure that this person is accountable? This is just a fundamental issue of our democratic institutions.
I'm sorry that my Conservative colleagues don't see this. They were elected to represent their constituents. That's the fundamental role we play. That means that you have responsibility like I do to ensure that officers of Parliament are accountable. The relationship between the executive, the officers of Parliament, and committee, is a fine balance. That relationship is essential to the health of our democracy, and that's not an exaggeration. That's just political science 101. You have to make sure that there is a check and balance between the power of committee, the power of the executive, and the officers of Parliament.
The reality is that they are accountable to us. Whatever the executive would like to do to interfere in the nomination process—and that's a whole other issue, the transparency and accountability for the nomination process—but at a minimum you would think that when a letter is sent to a commissioner, that letter is positively received.
It stinks. Something happened. I think Mr. Byrne is right. These are murky waters and we have no clarity as to why, unless the clerk has more information as to why the commissioner decided to come, and then suddenly.... What was it, the day of the meeting, Mr. Chair? No, the day before, it was yesterday, right?
View Greg Kerr Profile
CPC (NS)
View Greg Kerr Profile
2015-03-12 12:02
Mr. Chair, because we have witnesses, we can get on with it. We could continue the hyperbole for a long time here.
What I suggest we do then, if you want, is to make a motion to reinvite the witness and give the witness a chance to come here and explain, as opposed to condemning him before he's even before us.
If it's in order, I will move a motion to reinvite the witness, and you set the date, as chair, as to when the witness appears.
View Tarik Brahmi Profile
NDP (QC)
View Tarik Brahmi Profile
2015-03-12 12:05
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm trying to understand this motion and look at it from a French perspective. I feel that the word “invite”, which I would translate as “inviter”, does not express the agent's obligation to appear before Parliament. It does not remind him of his obligation to appear before Parliament.
I know that the word “summon” was initially proposed, and that would probably be translated as “convoquer”. However, I would translate “convoquer” as “convene” or “call”. The word “summon” may be too strong. It may be lacking the diplomacy and the respect due to the position, but I think the word “inviter” absolutely doesn't render the idea of a legal obligation to report to Parliament. I don't think that term is appropriate. That is why I will vote against the motion.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Brahmi.
Just for information, we could not return to the word “summon” because it has already been voted down within the context of the same meaning. We can't vote again on the same issue twice.
Is there any further debate? Seeing none, the question is on the motion by Mr. Kerr.
(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: The motion is carried and I believe the issue is resolved for the purposes of this meeting.
We will move on then to the orders of the day.
I offer my great apologies to the representatives here today from Shared Services Canada. First they were made to wait until the vote had finished in the House of Commons, and now they've had to suffer through a prolonged debate about committee business.
One of the witnesses was forced to leave already. Elizabeth Tromp, the acting senior assistant deputy minister and chief financial officer for corporate services, unfortunately had to excuse herself. Perhaps someone else can read her presentation.
Mr. Radford, if you wouldn't mind, introduce the rest of your panel and proceed with Ms. Tromp's presentation.
Thank you.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
You will recall that, on Thursday, almost two weeks ago, following a motion moved by Mr. Casey regarding the Supreme Court's appointment process, I proposed another motion. I gave the government the benefit of the doubt. I was twice told by the committee's government members that they might support my motion. So I did this in good faith, and I am sure everyone has done the same and invested the necessary efforts.
However, I will use the few minutes I have to plead with the Conservative members on this committee. They are Dan Albas, Blaine Calkins, David Wilks, Robert Goguen, Bob Dechert and our chair, Mike Wallace. To my knowledge, we make our own decisions. The motion I put forward reads as follows:
That the Committee undertake a study on the best transparent process for the nomination of judges in all courts under federal jurisdiction, including the Supreme Court of Canada; and that the Committee reports its findings to the House.
If I may say so, I think that this is a common-sense motion. I'm not saying that because I moved it, but because I think it is non-partisan. It does not prejudge the decision the committee may make following its consideration and imposes no time pressure.
I am very aware of the government's agenda and the bills before this committee. Nevertheless, this is a relevant study in light of what we have experienced since 2011, when I became a member of this Parliament. A number of appointments have been made to the Supreme Court since then. However, there are many vacant positions in the superior courts of various provinces. The staffing of those positions is already included in the budget. I think it is time to do something about this.
In Quebec, we lived with Bastarache Commission in a specific context. We have reviewed the way appointments are made to try to be as non-partisan as possible, in order to ensure to do exactly what the Minister of Justice constantly answers when I ask him about this during House of Commons question periods. I also think that this is truly at the forefront of the accessibility to the justice system issue. The impression Canadians have of justice and the actual justice system is also something to consider. There is often nothing worse than impressions and rumours that do not reflect reality.
When people start to believe that their justice system is somewhat partisan—whether or not that is true—it may be time to stop and reconsider. Studies were carried out on this issue over 10 years ago. Attempts were made to operate in a certain way, but those attempts were interrupted in the middle of the process. All sorts of suggestions have been made, but even specialists do not agree on those issues.
I have no preconceived ideas. Of course, I have some ideas, but I am still hoping that we will someday manage to find a system that, as the minister says, will bring together the most qualified people—in other words, a system where people would not have the slightest doubt about the individual hearing their case.
As all lawyers around this table know, there is nothing more frustrating than having to tell your client, in court, that the day will be difficult because of anything having to do with the judge. We should at least be able to count on complete judicial impartiality. That would actually be good for judges, as well, since they are the primary targets of any public criticisms.
The message I would like to send through this motion is that it is time to at least commit to beginning the process. Although the Department of Justice and the Minister of Justice do not agree, and neither does the Prime Minister, as we often say, committees are masters of their responsibilities, their own procedure and their files.
At some point, we have to stand behind our comments. I think that, if we are independent, despite the Conservative majority, we have to have the courage of our convictions when we believe in something. I think this study is necessary. Some specialists are already considering this, and all sorts of seminars are being held.
It seems to me that, as our constituents' leaders and representatives, we should not be trailing behind all the constitutional experts, lawyers and commentators of the country. We should rather be at the forefront and should undertake this study. I dare hope that my colleagues will vote on the basis of their own convictions and acknowledge the common sense underlying this motion.
We may not even have the time to carry out the study, given all the files we have to consider. However, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights should at least commit to undertake this study, whenever it can find the time, or to commission specialists to carry it out, so that people from all backgrounds, across the country, can submit briefs to us on this issue. I think that goes without saying.
We all know that this is the Governor in Council's prerogative. However, all party leaders have practically committed to make changes and to make the process as open and transparent as possible. However, we see that this has not really happened. That may be the best method, but a study on the topic should at least be carried out again.
This is the motion I am putting forward.
View Robert Goguen Profile
CPC (NB)
I want to thank my colleague for her motion. This is obviously a very large-scale motion. It calls for us to review the judicial appointment process, not only in the Supreme Court, but in all courts under federal jurisdiction. Yes, we know full well that this is the prerogative of the Governor in Council.
I am wondering whether it would not make more sense to move this motion in the House on an opposition day.
This issue, which is very touchy, should be debated in that arena, in my opinion. That way, the context would be entirely democratic and less restrictive than in this committee.
As you've mentioned with regard to the schedule, and I mean this quite frankly, voting on this would be somewhat theoretic because we now have two government bills, three private members' bills, and a study. Certainly a study of this nature.... I mean, we're studying the nomination of all judges, not just Supreme Court judges, and that would take a vast number of witnesses and sessions. It's just something that we're never going to get through before the next election.
Quite frankly, the motion would be academic, and despite the merit of it, I don't see it happening.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
I would like to come back to the issue of opposition days and respond to my colleague. Opposition days are fine and good, but during some of the past opposition days, we had little time to carry out a study. And the government does decide when opposition days are to be held.
We all have our opinion on what would be the best system, and I do not think I have the monopoly on the truth. The idea underlying the motion is to carry out a study. That means we would hear from witnesses of all backgrounds. They could be former judges, university professors, constitutional experts or average Canadians with an opinion on the matter.
In Quebec, we managed to obtain the Commission of Inquiry into the Appointment Process for Judges in Quebec, or the Bastarache Commission. It didn't take 15 years, but a certain number of hearings had to be held. The commissioner, a former justice of the Supreme Court, managed to establish guidelines that have helped free the judicial appointment process in Quebec from accusations of partisanship.
To be totally honest, whether we are part of the government or not, I don't want us to be seen as peddlers of influence. I can feel some of that here. I repeat, we are all striving—since these are the words the minister is constantly using—for excellence. If we are striving for excellence, the political side of the issue fades in importance. Maybe this wouldn't take as much time as you think and would not require the testimony of 150 witnesses.
People think that this will not be heard. Our colleague Mr. Leef, a member for Yukon, sponsored a bill on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. I do not want my bill to be set aside while I am being told that it will be studied. If that's what you are telling me, I am a bit surprised. I am taking note of the fact that my colleague Mr. Goguen, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, is telling us that, given everything we have to do, we will not have enough time to conduct this study, which would, therefore, be theoretical. We are being told that the study will be more complex. When it's to the Conservatives' benefit, they use this type of argument, but when it is not, they say the opposite. It's a bit hard for me to accept such arguments given the context.
When we had to study part 17—I think—of the Criminal Code, which concerned the language of the accused, trials and so on, it took some time, but we managed to get it done. I do not want to hear that kind of argument in situations where we think something is worthwhile. Tell me that this doesn't make sense, that you already have another process, or whatever, but don't tell me that we don't have the time. Let's adopt this and send a clear message. This is what we think should be done. If we manage to conclude the study before election is called, so much the better, if not, it won't be the first time a bill has died before an election campaign. It will be happily brought back later on. I could list pretty much all the private member' bills that are before the House at one stage or another and that are at their 18th version.
Mr. Chair, with all due respect, this is not a very convincing argument. We get the impression that the government probably doesn't want to review the process. Democracy is all very well, and you will vote as you like. Nevertheless, it seems to me that this heartfelt appeal is coming from many sources, but a comprehensive response is once again lacking.
I don' know whether people have read La Presse of November 29, like me. The newspaper said something along the following lines:
Former justices of the Supreme Court of Canada are calling for the creation of a new process for selecting judges who will sit on the country's highest tribunal.
These are not some dummies; these are people the current government often selects as heads of commissions. Some people actually disagree with that approach, as it emphasizes the status of former Supreme Court justices. Their opinion should not be heard only when it benefits us. Those people are calling for the creation of a new process. I find it interesting that they don't all agree on this. It's just like all of us around the table; we don't all have the same idea.
The other day, Mr. Casey put forward a motion that called for a fully public process—with lists and so on. His colleague Mr. Cotler, a former minister of justice, calls for a different type of system. Someone else might be in favour of another approach. That is where we are. This shows what we need to do. At the very least, we should send the message that we believe that, given everything that is happening, it is time to look into this matter.
Just so the government would not feel like too much of a target, I was not talking only about the Supreme Court of Canada. I felt very generous the day I came up with this. The whole appointment process can become beneficial. In fact, the same issue comes up when it comes to appointments to superior courts, courts of appeal and other tribunals.
This is not aimed at a specific tier, but I think the same principles should apply as a result.
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
I certainly agree with my fellow member, Ms. Boivin.
With all due respect to Mr. Goguen, I don't think holding an immediate debate in the House is the answer. That isn't necessarily the best place to have the debate since we wouldn't have the benefit of hearing from witnesses. We wouldn't have the opportunity to ask subject matter experts questions. There is nothing stopping an opposition motion from being proposed, but I think the right place to thoroughly study the matter is here, in committee.
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
I think the appetite is there for it. The recent developments concerning the Supreme Court, in which the process wasn't the same as it had been for Justice Wagner, I think bears some reflection; it behooves this committee to take a few moments to determine whether that was really the method that it wants to replicate.
It's a recent phenomenon. We haven't been doing this kind of review for very long. The Chrétien government was the first to bring it up. They didn't have time to strike the committee, of course, but they tried. We've now had a couple of occasions in which the Prime Minister has opened the process to a more transparent procedure than we had here. I find it unfortunate that the last time we were unable to have one.
I take good note of Madam Boivin's comment that the motion doesn't only mention the Supreme Court. I think, as she said, this is an attempt to try to broaden the interventions and also an attempt to give us an opportunity to hear from as many people as possible about where we need to go next. But I hear from people back home, from a number of people, that the process we have in place of just having the Governor in Council make the determination simply isn't sufficient.
Do we want to go all the way to the American system, in which the Senate has to ratify every decision? I don't know. I certainly have a problem with the way the Americans are doing it right now. But there was a famous judge—Cohn, I think it was—in the States, who made the interesting comment, “Don't tell me what the law is; just tell me who the judge is.” We need to be able to give some sort of solid foundation whereby people can have more faith in their justice system.
I have a problem with judges being appointed who just come out of nowhere. We have recently had the appointment to the Supreme Court of a judge whom nobody had expected. The person didn't have any experience as a judge. She certainly has had a very interesting career as a lawyer, but her point of view regarding many of the important questions today is simply not known. We're going to have to wait to see what happens.
I've made it clear that I'm actually quite pleased with the nomination, if only because the individual comes from the Gaspé. I think that's definitely a plus.
But I think it's important that we take it beyond this; that we have some very solid grounds whereby to expose what a judge's experience is and what we might expect from them come the decision-making process. The confidence people have in our judicial system depends on more transparency.
A number of witnesses have a lot to offer at this level. I don't know how much time would be required.... I take good note that this committee has a lot of responsibilities and that a number of bills have to be processed through the committee. That's certainly a responsibility that has to be taken seriously, but there's no reason that time can't be negotiated such that the various bills have all the time available to them. I'll add to that the fact that this committee has shown a willingness to meet outside of normal hours of procedure, if required. Maybe this is a case in which it might be required as well.
Regardless, the process is important. I think we need to answer to the Canadian public that the House of Commons is going to ensure that the nominations that the Governor in Council makes will be appointments that people can have great faith in right from the get-go. Right now the question is there, whether people can have confidence in those nominations. I think they will have; I think time will prove it.
Nothing makes that clearer than the advantage of doing things out in the open. Fresh air gives everybody a little bit more confidence in the process.
The process that we have here today, where a judge is named by Governor in Council, and only by Governor in Council, I don't think is sufficient. There are an awful lot of jurists who have made that clear. I think that we should take good heed.
We have to ensure that the Canadian public is going to have as much faith as possible in our process. I don't think the process that was recently seen in this place was adequate. I don't think that just announcing an appointment is a process that we want to replicate. I suspect that the Canadian public expects more of us.
If there's one task that I suspect the Canadian public expects of us, it is to ensure that the Supreme Court and our justice system are truly independent of the executive and the legislative branches. The only way to know that is if we hear from them before they're appointed. We need to hear from those individuals themselves. We didn't get the chance to do it recently and I think that was a grave mistake.
We need to ensure that people have confidence in the system. In Quebec we've tried that with the Bastarache commission. We also have shown great interest in ensuring that the public has faith in our judicial system, especially with recent decisions regarding people accused in criminal cases that have certainly pushed the limits of the confidence people have in our justice system. The Quebec government took the steps necessary to ensure the public's concerns are addressed.
I don't think we did the same thing here. That was a shame and we should probably take the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and improve on them. This would be a good start.
I don't think it would require all that much time. I would really like to see it done. If we go by the fixed date election cycle, we have until October. It's not like we don't have any time; we have close to a year. Even with all the bills ahead of us, there's plenty of time. I don't think we should discount that. We should take this responsibility seriously.
Madam Boivin's motion has a lot of merit. I personally would like to see it adopted.
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd just like to add my two cents to the discussion. And, in fact, Mr. Chair, I'll keep my remarks as brief as possible.
Since the parliamentary secretary is suggesting that we proceed by way of an opposition motion, I hope he'll be able to answer my question. If the opposition were to put forward a motion to allow the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to undertake a study on the process for the nomination of judges, would the government support it? I think that's a question worth asking.
Just a bit of history here, and I think the minister was quite clear on the matter. Prior to the Conservative government's election in 2006, no process for the nomination of judges existed. I think everyone agreed that we needed to do something about that. The Conservatives tried to put in place a process, which unfortunately did not work. Even the minister came here and told the committee that the process had unfortunately failed.
So I think the question that needs to be asked is this. What do we do in that case? No process used to exist, and the one that was put in place ended up not working. Does that mean we are simply going to go along with having no process in place? If so, the Conservatives would be going back on their promise to establish a more public and inclusive process. It would be a shame to go back to how things were prior to 2006 and to be deprived of any process at all. At least the government had a desire to establish a process. And, according to the minister, that process did not work. So it needs to be improved, reviewed or completely overhauled. If the government votes against our motion today, is it likely that it will change its mind in the House and that the outcome will be different? What will the government say? Will it say that the process it put in place did not work? Will it say that it tried but wasn't successful, and so it is better to have no process at all?
That would be pretty disappointing. But it would save the government a lot of headache, given the heat it took for its nomination of Judge Nadon. It was repeatedly criticized on the issue. As for the validity of the nomination process, I think it is in the best interest of every parliamentarian to try to achieve the best process possible.
Are the Conservatives telling us that, because the process they tried to put in place failed—we can all agree that it was less than perfect—we are going to go back to the days when no process existed at all, putting an end to any further democratic debate on the matter, which affects vital institutions? That would be quite disappointing, indeed. In a nutshell, I would just like the government to explain one thing. If it does not want to undertake this study, what message does that send to Canadians? Does the government not want to establish a process because it wasn't successful? Is it better to go back to how things were?
When I go back to my riding and my constituents ask me what we are going to do about the nomination of judges, am I going to have to tell them that, unfortunately, the government no longer cares to fix that problem?
That is frustrating for a young person like me, who studied law and sees the benefit of reviewing how judges are appointed and how our democratic institutions operate. It's frustrating for young people of my generation to see that the government tried to establish a process, which, by its own admission, did not work. We are in a black hole right now.
Thank you.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
Am I the last speaker?
It's going to be very short.
My colleagues made some good points. Having participated in two of the last three nomination processes, I would just make a minor correction. The same process was followed for the nominations of both Judge Wagner and Judge Nadon. In the first case, everyone was unanimous in terms of being satisfied with the outcome of the process. In the second case, however, everyone was unanimous in their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the process. The nomination even gave rise to a Supreme Court challenge and subsequent ruling. We may have been on the right track, but somewhere along the way, something went wrong. So it would be a good idea to take another look at it.
Picking up on what my fellow member just said, I have to say it would be unfortunate if my Conservative friends were to throw in the towel after making such a collective and significant effort to come up with a better process.
What a shame it would be to throw in the towel now, given that the Conservatives widely criticized how previous governments had handled the matter over the years. I agree with my fellow member on that point. We weren't raised that way. As the saying goes,
“If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again”.
I think we were almost there. As my colleague, Philip Toone, said, it wouldn't take very long and we could always negotiate some time to do it, even if we had to meet outside normal committee hours. Robert and I sat on the Ad Hoc Committee on the Appointment of Supreme Court of Canada Justices that met during the summer. I was on it for two summers. We also did an intensive study of the prostitution bill at that time. Given that we're dealing with an institution as important as the Supreme Court of Canada, not to mention all other federal courts, I would think we could find a bit of time to do this study.
Although we can't reveal what the committees discussed, we may have a good idea about how to improve the process so we don't make the same mistakes.
It may not be as complicated as the government is suggesting. As I have already mentioned, this is an issue of interest to many. Conferences have been held on the subject. Let's not let others dictate what we should put in place. Let's show some leadership here.
That is my final word on the subject.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
A recorded vote, please.
(Motion negatived: nays 5; yeas 4)
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Minister, thank you for agreeing to change the date of your appearance before our committee so that we can study the votes allocated to your department under supplementary estimates (B) 2014-15.
Before getting to the heart of the matter, I would be remiss if I didn't share my thoughts with you about today's top news. As a result, more people are probably following our committee today than on many other occasions when we deal with various topics. I am talking about the appointment made to the Supreme Court of Canada to fill the position of Justice Lebel, who is retiring. Let me also take this opportunity to commend him for all his years of service. As a lawyer from Quebec, I am proud of the work accomplished by Justice Louis Lebel over the course of his career.
He will be replaced by Suzanne Côté. This is the first time I have seen a lawyer directly appointed to the Supreme Court. It is not common, but it is interesting. I am very pleased that you have finally agreed to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court of Canada. Congratulations. As you know, I have often talked to you about that. In my view, it is important for the Supreme Court to show equality between men and women, as much as it can with an uneven number of members. This is the kind of equality we must have in Canada. Congratulations on doing that.
Today, we are hearing good things about the Hon. Suzanne Côté, as we will have to call her soon. Whether you like it or not, you know as well as I do that, when we talk about the Supreme Court of Canada, the process is always the elephant in the room.
I would like to digress for a moment. Your government has just made the final appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada. Unless someone resigns, I don't think there will be any positions to fill at the Supreme Court for some time. Mr. Minister, perhaps we should use that time to think about the process. People on the ground have many ideas. Various experts have talked about it and made various suggestions. Over the years, since the early 2000s, we have been trying to use different methods. I think Canadians are entitled to a process that is as transparent as possible.
In addition to the fact that Suzanne Côté's appointment is excellent, I would like to be able to tell everyone who asks me whether it was a political or transparent process. However, I will not be able to do so because everything was done behind closed doors. That is always a bit irritating. I think it is possible to make the same decisions using a more open process.
Mr. Minister, I hope that you will be willing to allow this committee, or any other committee, to study the issue and see whether we could do better. When I say “do better”, I am not talking about a better appointment, but about improving the process. That is what I am hoping for in this situation. I find it regrettable that there is no ad hoc committee because it is always useful to introduce new judges to Canadians. With that, I conclude this part of my remarks.
I would like us to do this for all the other appointments. We are talking about the budget here. Mr. Minister, some items are already in your budgets, such as some judicial positions that are still not filled. I am upset, because we are talking about access to justice, but there are still 23 vacancies at the Ontario Superior Court. All the judges I meet during my consultations tell me that this has a huge impact on access to justice and on the way justice is done. Judges are sometimes swamped. We should take care of that and fill those positions as soon as possible.
We also need to make sure that the process of appointing the judges is not political. It needs to be as transparent as possible because, as you explained in the House this week, we always strive to reward merit, to reward people's skills and qualifications. This should also apply to the courts.
I will let you respond to those few comments.
View Peter MacKay Profile
CPC (NS)
Thank you very much, Ms. Boivin.
As always, I appreciate your approach and agree with you on many of your comments.
This decision is the result of a number of consultations with many people from Quebec—the province where you live—who work in the justice system. Specifically, there were people from the Barreau du Québec and the Canadian Bar Association. So a lot of people were consulted and expressed all the opinions needed to make a good decision.
I also appreciate your view on the process. What you said about transparency and the trust of Canadians is really important.
Unfortunately, the process in which you participated was tainted because of a leak.
The integrity of the appointment process, not to mention the confidence that Canadians have in the individuals, is extremely important. I think we can both agree. My concern is that there are individuals who may not apply or would be dissuaded from putting their names forward if they felt—
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2014-11-27 16:04
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Minister, allow me to make it unanimous in terms of the parties represented here in thanking Justice LeBel for his years of service and in welcoming Suzanne Côté to the Supreme Court. I also share the view of Madame Boivin when she indicated that the fact that you have chosen to nominate a woman is a positive step towards correcting the gender imbalance in the court. I would also offer my support in that regard, Minister.
She said something else that I would also align myself with. I appreciate your candour with respect to being open to changes in the process going forward that potentially allow for parliamentary involvement. As you know well, all parties agreed under the previous administration that a closed, secretive process wasn't appropriate, and there was a process that you acknowledged worked quite well in the appointment of Justice Wagner.
I've gone one step further, Minister, and put the committee on notice of a motion, which I propose to present now, and that is:
That the Committee agree with the recommendations of the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, submitted on May 5, 2004, when he joined with the Honourable Kevin Sorenson, Minister of State for Finance; the Honourable Vic Toews, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General; Mr. Garry Breitkreuz, Member for Yorkton-Melville; and Mr. Chuck Cadman, former Member for Surrey North, to recommend that “[t]here must be substantive input from all the provinces and territories into the compilation of a list of suitable Supreme Court of Canada nominees”, “[t]here must be a public review of a short list of the nominees before a parliamentary committee”, and “[t]here must be Parliamentary ratification of the chosen nominee.”
View Peter MacKay Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Casey, let me respond this way. It's somewhat ironic that you, representing the Liberal Party, would be wrapping around the words of Peter MacKay in 2004 when they were soundly rejected by the justice minister, Mr. Cotler at the time, so much so that they had to be put in a dissenting report that clearly indicated that your party—albeit you weren't there—made the very overt decision to not follow that advice.
There have been various processes used over time. As I said to Madam Boivin, upon forming the government in 2006, we initiated the most open, inclusive process that's ever been seen in the Canadian judicial system, which included this parliamentary process of a committee, of recommendations, of working from a list. Suffice it to say that I personally believe that processes can always be improved and should be revisited from time to time.
One must also keep in mind the circumstances and the tenor of the times. We needed to move quickly, for example, with respect to the appointment of Mr. Justice Cromwell, as I recall, because of a pending election and the need to have a full complement. Similarly, and more recently, with the appointment of Mr. Justice Gascon and Madam Côté, I would suggest that because of the importance of having a full complement from the province of Quebec those circumstances dictated that we move and use the alternative process.
On the consultative part of this exercise, is it aided or hindered by the parliamentary participation of having the committee go out and do these consultations and then report back to me or through me to the Prime Minister? That remains to be seen. When there are leaks and when the process itself is impugned, and individuals who might otherwise want their names considered are dissuaded from doing so because of the threat that their names could be publicly disclosed, one has to weigh that, which is what we did in this instance and therefore chose to take an alternative route and consult directly with the most important individuals. In this case we consulted the Supreme Court of Canada, the supreme court of Quebec, prominent members of the legal community, of course the Minister of Justice from Quebec, and other practitioners, and in some cases, retired judges, who weighed in on this important decision and gave us advice.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2014-11-27 16:46
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Facing this panel of witnesses, I was counting to see if it's the same number of justices on the Supreme Court. With so much legal expertise here in the front of the room, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.
My first question is about the Supreme Court.
Mr. Pentney, you may want to refer this to the people from the Supreme Court, but I'll leave that up to you. It's with respect to the Nadon reference. Have the costs associated with the reference been tabulated, and can anyone share them with us?
William F. Pentney
View William F. Pentney Profile
William F. Pentney
2014-11-27 16:47
I guess I'm not sure what would be included in the cost of the reference, but I will defer to Monsieur Bilodeau, if he knows whether the costs of the.... There would be some costs in terms of Department of Justice counsel time, but that's part of our ongoing operations.
Roger Bilodeau
View Roger Bilodeau Profile
Roger Bilodeau
2014-11-27 16:48
Well, as registrar of the court overseeing the administrative support for the justices of the court, the reference in the Nadon matter was dealt with as any other reference or case in the course of its usual business. So, I cannot give you to date the exact cost of supporting that case, as for any other case, but it would have been the regular costs. Nothing special or extraordinary in terms of effort was made to support the handling of that case at the court.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2014-11-27 16:52
Out of respect for the witnesses, I'll be very brief.
Everyone here heard the exchange with the minister. What the minister said in 2004 in that report is before you. What he said today is that he is certainly open to changes to the process. These are changes that were recommended by him and several of your colleagues 10 years ago.
I think it would be entirely appropriate for us to offer that input into the process that he is clearly seized with at this time.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
Those are the same reasons why the Liberal Party rejected it back then. I read it carefully. I am fully in favour of amending and improving the process. I think that is what we are all looking for.
I took careful note of the minister's remarks. He seems open to trying to find a formula that would, once and for all, let everyone say that, with good nominations, they are satisfied with the process and that it should be followed. That is not always the case.
I have several problems with this motion. Among them is the fact that it mentions Vic Toews and company. With all respect, I do not necessarily share a number of their opinions. Since I have problems with that, we were not off to a good start.
Then, things got worse when I read this:
...[t]here must be a public review of a short list of the nominees before a parliamentary committee”, and “[t]here must be Parliamentary ratification of the chosen nominee.”
Why do I have a problem with those two points? Because we then read:
The “public review of a short list of the nominees”...
I have been part of a confidential process twice. I have enormous respect for the confidential aspect of the process for the simple reason that the names of the people on the list are protected. I agree with the minister in that regard. I feel that even our Liberal colleagues should be in favour of that, not to make us happy, but to support the principle of confidentiality. I am always going to pay a lot of heed to that principle.
Just imagine. We considered the judges' nominations. We saw what happened with the list that was published in The Globe and Mail. Until the day I die, I will never confirm whether that was the list we had before us. Just for argument's sake, let us say that it was. Put yourself in the place of the judges who were not accepted. Like it or not, at that high level, being considered has an impact. People know each other. They know who among the judges on the Quebec Court of Appeal, for example, has a good reputation. The names go around every time a position opens up.
I know because I am a member of the Quebec Bar. My colleagues talk to each other. People talked to me. They told me that they were hoping that this name or that name was on our list. For me, the obligation to keep things confidential is extremely important. It protects the careers, present and future, of the candidates.
In addition, the process of public examination by a parliamentary committee has to be ratified by Parliament. That being the case, I want to avoid the American method as much as possible. I found that the minister, who was not in that position at the time, was mistaken. I am happy that, over the years, he has changed his view a little and that he has proposed this.
So I think that we have to work to find a better process. I was going to make a proposal. However, we may not have the time to deal with it immediately. I think, however, that I also have the right to make a motion while we are talking about a given subject, as long as it deals with the same topic. I do not think that my amendment to the motion will be passed, unless Mr. Casey is in favour of it.
So instead, I would propose that the text read as follows:
“That the Committee agree”—scratch everything else, and just write—“to review the process of nomination of judges in all courts under federal jurisdiction, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and to make a recommendation to Parliament on the best transparent process for said nominations.”
I think that this is the stage we have reached. We are two or three years away from the next appointment. There is no need for us to rush into something like this, but we should still come to grips with it.
With that said, I cannot vote for this motion because of the two basic reasons I mentioned. They are not solutions, in my view. I would never want to be seen to be in favour and for it to be said that I support that way of doing things.
View Bob Dechert Profile
CPC (ON)
Okay. We'll just talk about Mr. Casey's motion.
I agree with Madam Boivin that it's bizarre, to say the least, that the Liberal Party is proposing that this committee adopt the dissenting report of the Conservative Party from May 2004, a report dissenting to the report of the committee of the day, which was dominated by the majority Liberal members under the chairmanship of Mr. Lee, who was at the time a Liberal MP from Scarborough—Rouge River. I understand that it was substantially different from what his party and the former Liberal justice minister actually decided to do in terms of appointing members to the Supreme Court.
I note that in that committee report there were eight recommendations made by the committee to the government of the day about how it would select the members of the Supreme Court. In fact, it didn't follow the majority of those recommendations.
I don't know, but he could go and speak to some of his former colleagues, including the Honourable Stéphane Dion, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, the Honourable Hedy Fry, and the Honourable John McKay, who are all currently in his caucus. In addition, there is Marlene Jennings, who was his predecessor as Liberal justice critic, and the Honourable Andy Scott, who was a member of cabinet at one time. All these people disagreed with what he is now proposing.
It's interesting to note that a significant number of the members of his current caucus disagreed in May of 2004 with what he is currently proposing, so he's apparently adopting a dissenting report that was voted down over 10 years ago by his own colleagues and is now presenting that as his party's suggestion on how the Supreme Court justices should be selected.
I can go through some of the recommendations, but one of them was that an advisory committee made up of one member of each of the parties would compile the list of candidates to be considered for the Supreme Court. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Cotler never did that, nor did any other justice minister that I'm aware of.
I find it bizarre. It's strange. It's certainly the first time in my history of serving as a member of the House of Commons that a member of another party has gone back into history, has dug out something that their own party turned down, something that was actually proposed in the past by some of my colleagues, and has then put it forward as something that the government of today should adopt going forward.
I think we heard from the minister his concern about what happened in the Nadon process. I was part of the process when Madam Justice Karakatsanis and Mr. Justice Moldaver were selected. That process went very well. Everyone signed a confidentiality agreement, everyone complied with it, and there were no leaks of any of the names. I agree with Madam Boivin that it's a real problem if the names are leaked, as we saw in The Globe and Mail.
I was quite shocked, personally, when I saw that list in The Globe and Mail. I remember from the time when I served on the committee how we were all admonished that we had to be extremely careful with everything we did, to make sure that in no way would any of those names be leaked, because clearly, first of all, it's like applying for any job. If you have a current job and are applying for another job, you don't necessarily want your current colleagues to know you're doing that.
Many of the people on the list are currently serving on other levels of court. Some of them are serving in law firms and in other places. The committee speaks to a wide range of people in the legal and judicial systems in Canada to get their views on each of those candidates. It obviously would compromise the advice the committee or the government would get from those it seeks advice from if they knew that the advice they were giving on these people would become public knowledge.
For all those reasons, I agree with Madam Boivin and I agree with the minister that this motion should be defeated. I think it is one of the strangest motions I have ever seen in my time here.
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
I thank my colleague, Mr. Casey, for introducing this motion, but, with respect, I should tell him that it is moving a little too fast.
This matter is extremely important and fundamental for our institutions of justice. We must not adopt a model of this kind right away without studying it and without hearing from witnesses on the matter. I am sure that my colleague could suggest experts who could come before the committee to speak for or against a public model. I think that he wants the same thing as we do, to adopt a process that is as transparent as possible. However, respecting judges' privacy must be one of the principles of that process.
It would be premature to adopt a ready-made model without hearing from experts and having studied the question in a little more depth. Adopting this motion would prevent us from consulting experts and groups who have been looking at the matter for a number of years. Instead, we should adopt the motion that my colleague from Gatineau is going to introduce. It will allow us to hear from witnesses who have studied the matter and then put our heads together to consider the best model to adopt.
My colleague is as hesitant as I am with the idea that the government would like an open model. I understand that. Nevertheless, we still have to let experts come before the committee to give us their opinions on the process of appointing judges.
My thanks to everyone for listening to us.
Alexandre Lavoie
View Alexandre Lavoie Profile
Alexandre Lavoie
2014-10-07 13:28
The bill amends the Statistics Act to establish a process to appoint and prescribe additional duties for and increase the independence of the chief statistician of Canada. It also provides for a long-form questionnaire to be used for taking the census of a population.
The bill does not concern a question that is outside federal jurisdiction. It does not clearly violate the Constitution Act. It does concern a question that is substantially the same as one already voted on by the House of Commons. It doesn't concern a question that is currently on the order paper or notice paper as an item of government business.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Minister, unfortunately, we will not have a full hour with you. While we would like to be able to discuss a bit more in depth the major issues we are studying, the members in the House are debating another time allocation motion on a democratic reform bill. That is more than 60 time allocation motions introduced by the government.
It is quite a strange process. We are studying the main estimates, which are quite voluminous, and there are some aspects that fall under your responsibility since they concern the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Department of Justice's entire budget, the courts administration service and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. However, we have to study all that with only five minutes for questions each.
I will try to be brief and I would like the answers to be brief as well.
My first question has to do with the budget of the Supreme Court. Are we to understand that you are going to appoint someone to the Quebec position that is still vacant? Is that part of your main estimates? When are you going to start spending those funds? In other words, are you going to proceed with the appointment as soon as possible?
I have a second question for you.
In these estimates, the Department of Justice funding for transfers to provinces for legal aid services drops significantly. That funding comes from t. We know that the provinces are asking for a bit more funding in that area because the needs are huge. I don't understand why savings are being made at the expense of legal aid.
Here is my third question.
Bill C-31 is creating a new administrative tribunals support service as an act. Do you expect this service to involve spending? I am not sure your estimates list the financial impact of the 11 tribunals that will fall under this service. Do you expect to save money with this service? Or do you expect to have a period of transition?
I would have liked to have more than five minutes to have an intelligent discussion. I doubt I will be able to have answers to all those questions. Perhaps you can promise to provide us with the answers later, if you don't have time to answer all my questions.
I assume that I will have to ask your colleague, the Director of Public Prosecutions, about his mandate, as described in the main estimates, and about his role in the RCMP. I will come back to that later.
Mr. Chair, are we going to come back to committee after the vote?
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
Excellent, so I'll reserve my Director of Public Prosecutions questions. I have some questions for Mr. Saunders when he'll be here.
So go ahead, Minister, about the nomination for the Quebec judge on the Supreme Court.
View Peter MacKay Profile
CPC (NS)
Thank you very much Madame Boivin. I'll try to answer your questions in the order that you presented them.
With regard to the Supreme Court budget, of course that money is there. It is allocated. That money will be there to cover the salary of an eventual replacement for Mr. Justice Fish, so there is every intention of course to fill that post and to do so in an expedited way. I've now had the opportunity to speak with my new counterpart from Quebec, someone well known to you, Madame Vallée, so we had a face-to-face meeting this week in Ottawa. I intend to move as expeditiously as possible to fill that post.
With respect to legal aid, you would know that in the face of all departments making difficult decisions and in reductions in many areas we did not reduce the budget with respect to legal aid, so that money remained stable while at the same time provincial transfers did increase to provinces like Quebec and others across the country, in some cases as high as 25% in the province of Nova Scotia. So increase in transfers and no decrease—
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2014-05-08 11:22
Can you shed any light on the request that was made of Justice Nadon to resign from the court and join the Quebec bar?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Mike Wallace Profile
CPC (ON)
View Mike Wallace Profile
2014-05-08 11:22
Well, the supplementary estimates include the Supreme Court. So if he can refer to the spending that the Supreme Court is asking for under vote 1, it's certainly allowed. If the minister chooses to answer, as it relates to the spending for that vote, it is in order here on the table. Thank you.
View Mike Wallace Profile
CPC (ON)
View Mike Wallace Profile
2014-05-08 11:22
Do you want to relate it somehow, as to the opening at the Supreme Court and how the spending is going?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2014-05-08 11:23
Mr. Minister, you have undoubtedly read reports in the media that Justice Nadon was asked to resign to join the Quebec bar in order to make his appointment eligible, or in order, I presume, to cleanse his appointment.
Can you shed any more light on that, sir?
View Peter MacKay Profile
CPC (NS)
That was not a request that was made by me, Mr. Casey. I've read media reports of speculation around this issue, but I can tell you that's not something that I personally encouraged him to do.
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