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Kim Campbell
View Kim Campbell Profile
Right Hon. Kim Campbell
2019-07-25 11:12
Thank you.
First of all, good afternoon. This is old home week, in a sense, for me and this committee. This is the third time we've had the opportunity to discuss this very important process. I do regret that I'm not there personally to give you all a valedictory handshake and perhaps a hug, since I'm sure this will be the last meeting during this mandate. I do want to say how much I've appreciated the opportunity to speak with you and hear your points of view on the work of the committee.
To the chair, Mr. Anthony Housefather; the vice-chairs, the Honourable Lisa Raitt and Ms. Tracey Ramsey; and the members of the committee, it is my pleasure to be before you. It was my honour to chair the committee.
I might say that the difference between the work of this committee and the two others is that
we almost always worked in French. You will find this surprising when you hear me speak French. Even though I speak French like a Vancouver native, it was very important to do so to reflect the reality: we were in the process of choosing candidates from the province of Quebec.
I will speak more French, except I'm very tired—I just arrived yesterday from Africa—and I don't really want to
massacre Molière's language in reporting to you.
We did, in fact, do most of our work in French. That was the difference from the other exercises.
I also want to say, as I said to you before about the other two iterations, that every time somebody says to me, “Thank you for your good work as the chair”, I say that the members of the committee made my work quite easy. I think you would be very proud and happy to know what incredible professionalism and dedication to serving Canadians across the country, not just Canadians in Quebec, the members brought to their work. My goal has always been, in these exercises, to ensure that each member of the committee has an opportunity to speak freely for himself or herself so that we get a genuine exchange of ideas and avoid groupthink and any other dynamics that can undermine the quality of decisions. I must say that this was an outstanding group of Canadians who really took their responsibility very seriously. As I said, it made my job easy. I was very proud to serve with them. I can say nothing but the finest things about them in terms of their competence and their character.
Incidentally, as I saw in the other two examples, the two members of the committee who are not lawyers often bring a very important dimension and a very clear understanding of what the court means to the legal life of our country. I admire them very much.
The 2019 process was opened on April 18 to fill the seat. Candidates were required to submit their applications by midnight Pacific time on Friday, May 17. That was a period of four weeks. I think we'll come back and discuss this a little. One of the challenges we face is the timing of this.
Of the three examples or three iterations of this committee's work, two were done to replace judges who took early retirement. For replacing the chief justice, we had more time, because her retirement was anticipated. She retired close to her retirement age. I think one challenge, which I want to come back and make some suggestions about, is that when justices of the Supreme Court of Canada take early retirement, this changes the time frame in which it's sometimes most convenient or appropriate to engage in the search process, particularly if we want to ensure that the court is up to full complement at the beginning of a new season of its work.
The remaining advisory board members were announced only on May 15, but as soon as the process was launched and I was confirmed to be the new chair, I set about making contact with all of the organizations that we contacted in the past iterations, to ask them to communicate with their members about the new opening and to encourage them to consider whether they would like to be considered as candidates for the new seat on the court. I didn't wait for the other committee members to be appointed but began right away to communicate. Again, I have some other comments I'd like to make about that process.
You know, of course, that I'm not going to repeat the requirements of the Supreme Court Act to have three civil law trained judges from Quebec. The quality of candidates was really outstanding. There were 12 candidates, which was perhaps about right. We had, I think, 12 or 14 candidates for the western seat.
The first seat we considered had many more candidates, because that was originally meant to be—and it was—a national competition. I will say that only one of the candidates was a woman. Again, that is something that the committee members were disappointed about. There were no indigenous applicants in this process. I think we want to talk about how we can encourage a broader range of Canadians to apply. I will give you some of my reflections on why we have encountered those issues.
The board members, first of all, convened via teleconference. We then met in Ottawa between May 27 and June 7 to discuss our evaluations and to proceed with our methodology of identifying and looking at candidates individually before we came together again—to avoid groupthink, to avoid too much influence before each of us had the opportunity to independently review.
Before that, though, we came on May 21 to meet with the chief justice. As you know, it's been our tradition to meet with the chief justice before setting out on our business. This was our first opportunity, obviously, to meet with the new chief justice, Chief Justice Wagner. As in the other two cases, we found that our meeting with the chief justice really helped to set us up for our work by reminding us of the reality of life on the Supreme Court of Canada, of what is required and what some of the things are we should be looking for as we interact with our candidates.
I think what was interesting for us in talking to Chief Justice Wagner—those are confidential conversations, but I don't think he said anything that he hasn't said to Canadians more broadly—was that, as with the other meetings we had with Chief Justice McLachlin, there was an emphasis on the importance of collegiality. Again, one wants justices who have strong views and who are capable of expressing themselves, but collegiality on the Supreme Court of Canada is not groupthink. It is the ability to try, as much as possible, to create clarity and judgments that become the architecture of Canadian law and that are so important for lower courts and practitioners. This ability to work toward the clearest possible elaboration of the court's views on issues is a very important part of the temperament of a constructive Supreme Court justice.
The other thing that was very interesting was when Chief Justice Wagner talked to us about the uniqueness of the Supreme Court of Canada as both bilingual and bijuridical. Now, we knew, of course, that for our judges, one of the requirements for our candidates has been that they be functionally bilingual. The Supreme Court Act requires that there be three civil law trained judges on the court from Quebec, although Justice Martin is also a civil law trained judge, so the strength of civil law capacity on the court is certainly well established. He made a very interesting comment about how unique this makes our Supreme Court and how, in terms of the way other courts around the world look at our judgments, we have a very special set of competences among our justices. I know that certainly many common law judges enjoy the opportunity to study the civil law because it's a different route, often, to getting to the same answer.
That really put our work in a different context in the sense that we weren't just looking to fulfill the requirements of the Supreme Court Act. We were working on an exercise that helped define our court more broadly in the world as uniquely extremely broad in its juridical competence. I think we felt quite inspired by that notion. Of course, the candidates we interviewed were quite outstanding in that regard.
After meeting with the chief justice and doing our work, we presented our short list to the Prime Minister.
I'm very happy to answer your questions, but I would just like to conclude with this comment. I notice that since 2011 there have been nine nominations, including Justice Kasirer, to the Supreme Court. I remember the first meeting we had with Chief Justice McLachlin. She felt that the ability to commit, say, 10 years to the work on the court was highly valuable for a Supreme Court justice simply because it takes time to ramp up, to get up and running, and to find your feet, but also because continuity and a lack of disruption are very important.
However, clearly, there are reasons for judges to not necessarily serve their full time on the court.
In terms of getting the quickest response from strong candidates to the opportunity to be considered as a candidate for the court when retirements come, or early retirements come, we have talked about a process—and I would be very interested in the views of members of the committee on how this might be approached—as a way of starting an ongoing conversation with members of the Canadian judiciary in all of the provinces and senior members of the profession, about what it means to serve on the Supreme Court of Canada. What are some of the nuances, what are some of the requirements? I say this because it's a very difficult job.
It isn't just that one has to be an outstanding legal thinker, but that one also has to move to the national capital region, to Ottawa, and often at a stage in life when a spouse's career may be at its most active and prominent stage of development, when family obligations make it difficult.
I think that having a broader conversation with people in the profession about what is required to be on the court so that there is greater knowledge of what it actually means might, first of all, enable us to encourage even more people to apply. I think, particularly for women, if they have families and are likely to have spouses who also have careers, this might be something that could overcome some reservations.
If this were an ongoing conversation, as opposed to something that we scramble to do just in the face of an imminent departure from the court and the need to recruit a new candidate, I think it might be something that could broaden the scope of the candidates.
Again, as I've said, we do reach out to a broad range of organizations of lawyers and judges in Canada, but I think that in finding people who are perhaps members of groups that are under-represented, having an ongoing process of making candidacy for the Supreme Court of Canada less daunting and more appealing, or certainly to at least allow for a greater, more informed view, so that people do not come to the court and find that it really is difficult for them to serve and that their expectations are not the reality, is something that we need to think about. I say this because we, again, have an outstanding court and a court that, in the context of world courts, is unique and whose work is highly regarded. We want to ensure that no person—no man or woman or member of any ethnic group or identification in Canada—is ever discouraged from presenting themselves as a candidate because of either a lack of confidence in what it might mean or a lack of knowledge.
I will stop here and will be very happy to answer your questions. I appreciate you, Mr. Chairman, and your committee for accommodating me to be able to speak to you from Vancouver because I sure needed my sleep last night.
Thank you.
View Bill Casey Profile
Lib. (NS)
I call the meeting to order.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is meeting 154 of the Standing Committee on Health and our last meeting for this Parliament.
We have a jammed schedule here today. Actually, we have a vote. We understand the bells will ring at 5:30. I'm seeking unanimous consent to go to 5:45.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We'll go to 5:45.
Our first witness is Commissioner Brenda Lucki, commissioner of the RCMP. We have her here for half an hour.
Thanks very much for coming on short notice. We appreciate it very much.
Brenda Lucki
View Brenda Lucki Profile
Brenda Lucki
2019-06-18 15:31
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of this committee.
Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for inviting me here to speak today.
I want to start by saying the RCMP takes all reported allegations of criminal activity and incidents very seriously and we are committed to continuing to provide services that are focused on the safety of our communities.
Such allegations could include the forced or coerced sterilization of women.
Following a consultation of the RCMP's contract divisions through their respective commanding officers, to date, we have no allegations on file for forced sterilization that were found to be reported to the RCMP directly. I've also taken the steps to reach out to the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police for assistance in raising the awareness among all the other police agencies. A bulletin was disseminated by the CACP to its member agencies and a report is expected in the near future. There are quite a few of them so they're still waiting for results.
It's important to note that the investigation of any allegations of forced or coerced sterilization would fall under the mandate of the police of jurisdiction. Therefore, any evidence of criminal activity should be reported to the local police of jurisdiction where offences are alleged to have taken place so that they can be properly investigated.
The RCMP proactively works with communities to identify, prioritize and solve problems, as well as to build trust and faith in the RCMP as a police service.
This collaborative approach is based on the philosophy that prevention is a core responsibility of policing, where decisions are evidence-based and responses should be community-led, police-supported, sustainable and flexible. The RCMP has been part of these efforts in many communities across Canada and will continue to reach out with professionalism and compassion to enhance trust with the communities we serve.
I have to add that compassion is one of our core values, but honestly, as part of our modernization, I don't think compassion is good enough. I think we need to bump it up to empathy. It falls in line not just with reconciliation but.... If we can all learn—when I say “we” I'm talking about my organization—to walk a mile in somebody's shoes, I think we would have a better understanding of others' circumstances and they would be treated differently if we had that understanding. Part of this is teaching people from the day they get into the organization and reteaching everybody along the way. In some effects, we've introduced at the training academy, for example, the Kairos blanket exercise, which is one way of teaching more empathy and more history.
In addition to contributing to a safer and healthier indigenous community, it's one of the key priorities of the RCMP. Protecting all Canadians from criminal activity is of the utmost importance. We're committed to protecting our communities and to achieving reconciliation with indigenous communities and partners through a renewed relationship built on the recognition of rights, respect, mutual trust, co-operation and partnership.
I would be happy to answer your questions.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you very much, Commissioner, for coming here today. I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to question you on these very serious allegations concerning forced sterilization of women, especially indigenous women, in Canada.
Obviously, you said that no complaint has ever been made to the RCMP.
Brenda Lucki
View Brenda Lucki Profile
Brenda Lucki
2019-06-18 15:35
Perhaps I should be more specific. When we go back into our records, we can go back only so far. Certain things are purged along the way, according to our archived records management system, so the looking back is looking at anything in the electronic world. We tried various keywords in that system to try to find anything that we could, but we didn't find anything.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
Is there a statute of limitations on the sterilization of women? If someone came forward and said they had a complaint, would you be able to say, “That happened 20 years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago”, or another number, and say, “We can't investigate”?
Brenda Lucki
View Brenda Lucki Profile
Brenda Lucki
2019-06-18 15:35
It depends on the circumstances, of course. We don't have, in the Criminal Code, anything that deals directly with forced sterilization. The law that we use is aggravated assault, or there are other kinds of criminality, depending on what the victim brings forward in their statement or the review of the events. For an aggravated assault, no, there isn't a statute.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
Obviously this has been in the media for a number of years now. It's been out there. If the allegations that are being debated in society are false, I believe that deserves to be investigated. If those allegations are true, that deserves to be investigated. One, if they're false, obviously it's in the media. This undermines and destroys people's reputations: doctors, nurses and social workers. If it's true, these are very serious allegations.
If at one point someone has already raised it in the media, at what point would the RCMP, our national police force, start investigating? What would be the trigger, the moment you would say that this is something serious enough for us to take a deep look at and send an investigator to have a conversation, at least, with a lawyer?
Brenda Lucki
View Brenda Lucki Profile
Brenda Lucki
2019-06-18 15:37
It's difficult to answer that question. When it was brought to my attention as the commissioner, of course we did all the searches and we also reviewed the report from the Saskatoon regional health authority.
There's more work to be done, though. I notice that at one point—I think it was in some of the minutes—there was mention of several victims, with names of defendants. That has never come to our attention, so we have to go looking for that. Of course, we might deal with privacy issues when we deal with health care, getting information through the health care system. Of course, it's encouraging people to come forward. For anything, a crime against a person, the rules always seem to be a bit more difficult in the sense that it's a very personal type of crime. It's not so easy for people to want to come forward, but we definitely need to look into it to see if we can get names of victims and see their willingness.
I noticed, in the minutes that I looked through, I think it was Ms. Francyne Joe who talked about informed choice. Informed choice also works with victims of crime, in the sense that not everybody wants to come forward when it comes to such a personalized crime. That's why it's probably been unreported.
I'll be honest. There's also—and it's mentioned again in the report—the trust level with police and coming forward for such a personalized crime. Some people might not even realize that they thought it was a crime, depending on the circumstances in how that situation evolved. Now we have to look at it and say, “Okay, is there a list of victims we can talk to, reach out to, to see if they want to come forward to give statements?”
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
What is the level of trust right now between indigenous peoples and the RCMP in Canada? Have you been keeping statistics on that and understanding surveys about that? Obviously that's a very important consideration. If someone's not willing to make a complaint, why are they not willing?
Brenda Lucki
View Brenda Lucki Profile
Brenda Lucki
2019-06-18 15:39
I think it varies and it varies in all agencies. That's the reason we have a big focus on reconciliation. Of course, there are various reports that have come out. We always look at things that we can do better. It depends on the community. If you go to certain communities, trust levels are a lot higher, and in other communities, not so much. I guess it depends on the personal experiences of the people in those communities.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
You obviously are trying to build a relationship with indigenous communities, but the history of the RCMP was one also of suppression of indigenous peoples.
Brenda Lucki
View Brenda Lucki Profile
Brenda Lucki
2019-06-18 15:40
Yes, in the early days it was also protection.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
That's a point of view.
Genocide is one of the things that has come up in the last little bit and this is a very serious accusation. Obviously you have a very important role in the maintenance of law and order and the protection of human rights.
Do you believe the RCMP should be taking more of an active role in investigating and ensuring that if crimes have been committed against women in this country, they are afforded the full protection of the state against those who continue to perpetrate those crimes?
We even heard from a witness that these crimes are still ongoing, or at least there are allegations that they are still ongoing.
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