Thank you very much.
I think what my colleague here is asking for is very reasonable. Just to talk about the premise of what this is all about, we are now not having a merit-based system which is something new to this country. We've had a merit-based system of appointing judges in this country for decades. Indeed, under the previous administration, there were judicial advisory committees made up of representatives from the legal profession, from the provinces, from the federal government, from people who were coming together for no other reason than for the best interests of this country. I think everybody can be very proud of all the appointments that were made during those years.
There are challenges in the province of Alberta in terms of the increase in population, of course, over the years, related to the demand for judicial services. It's important to do that. There are new jobs created. I think if the honourable member has a look over the last two and a half years, he'll see there has been a consistent difference between Alberta and many other jurisdictions in Canada. If there are a couple of vacancies in Ontario, I understand that. There are people who resign or retire, or whatever. It has to be done on a continuing basis. To have that many at one time.... I would be interested to hear from the minister saying, “Okay, if there's a problem maybe people aren't applying.” If that's the problem, great, we get the message out there. Get your name in if there's a problem with that. I'm hoping that she would agree with me that in the years that I had a look at the judicial applications in the province of Alberta, I never saw a shortage of people, quite frankly, who were qualified to sit on the Queen's Bench in Alberta.
That being said, with the number of vacancies there are now, I understand where my colleague is coming from. And he's right. When you get very serious cases thrown out, it does hurt people's confidence in the criminal justice system. I'm sure you hear this yourself. What's going on that this individual is getting a chance to walk without having to face the consequences of the charges levelled against him or her? That being said, there are more things we can do. We can encourage people to get their applications in, that sort of thing. I'm absolutely convinced there is no shortage of people in the province of Alberta who have their names before whatever, for the composition of the new judicial advisory committee. I'm sure there must be enough.... If there's some sort of a problem with their getting together and making these decisions.... They come on the recommendation from those committees to the Minister of Justice. If she tells us she's only had three in the last year, that's an issue, or if people aren't applying.
I think that's what Mr. Cooper is looking for, just to have a discussion around this table. What better place to have it than right here at this committee.