House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

June 18th, 1996 / 4:35 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon for the Minister of Justice

moved that Bill C-48, an act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Judges Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Prince Albert—Churchill River
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Gordon Kirkby Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I address the House today on Bill C-48, an act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Judges Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act.

Under the Judges Act, judges of provincial superior courts and appellate courts may be appointed from applicants who have at least 10 years at the bar or as provincial court judges. However under the Federal Court Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act eligibility for appointment to each of these two courts is limited to persons who have 10 years at the bar or who are already federally appointed judges.

Since the time served as a provincially appointed judge does not count toward eligibility for appointment to the federal court or the tax court as it does for appointments to the provincial, superior and appellate courts, this historic anomaly effectively disqualifies from appointment to these two courts any provincial court judge notwithstanding his or her extremely high qualifications who had practised law for less than 10 years prior to his or her appointment to the provincial court.

There is no legal or policy reason for so limiting the appointments to the federal court or the tax court in this way. Furthermore, in all three acts time spent as a provincially or federally appointed judicial officer such as a master or superior court registrar during which the applicant's membership in the bar may have been in abeyance also does not count toward the 10-year eligibility requirement for the appointment to the provincial, superior and appellate courts, the federal court and the tax court.

Bill C-48 would amend all three acts to make the appointment eligibility requirements consistent. Once these amendments are in effect, time spent either as a lawyer, a provincially or federally appointed judicial officer or a provincially or federally appointed judge would count toward the 10 years at the bar requirement for appointment to any federally appointed court, with the exception of the Supreme Court of Canada.

For the supreme court it would continue to be the case that only lawyers of 10 years standing or provincial superior court judges would be eligible for appointment.

The amendments to the Federal Court Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act are being given retrospective effect so as to place the validity of the appointment of a judge appointed in 1990 and another appointed in 1995 beyond any possible doubt regardless of how one interprets the provincial laws governing the status of those judges continuing membership in the bar while they were provincial judges.

That is all Bill C-48 does. It is a very simple bill with a very limited technical objective. I urge all hon. members to pursue quick passage.

I ask at this time for unanimous consent for the House to take all necessary steps to pass and adopt the bill expeditiously today.

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The parliamentary secretary has asked for unanimous consent of the House to move the legislation forward today at all stages.

Is there unanimous consent?

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to confirm that we will in fact be giving our support, because we already indicated it to the parliamentary secretary earlier. We are therefore keeping our promise.

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I still have to ask the House in its entirety. Would the hon. member for Calgary North care to comment, or can I simply ask if there is unanimous consent to proceed at all stages?

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, we oppose the bill. However we do not oppose the process of passing it through all stages today.

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is the House giving its unanimous consent to proceed at all stages?

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, quite honestly, as for having a great debate on a piece of legislation that simply changes the number of years a judge must sit before being eligible for the federal court or the tax court of Canada, I really could not bring myself to make Parliament or our electors foot the bill for such a thing.

However, I will say that I would like to add a really minor amendment, but only we study the bill in the committee of the whole.

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are discussing Bill C-48, an act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Judges Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act. This is the third piece of legislation brought before the House since February of this year dealing with amendments to the Judges Act. I have to question why the government is making all of these piecemeal changes instead of bringing in one bill to satisfy all the administrative and technical changes it feels are necessary.

This bill has been brought in specifically to correct a situation where the justice minister appointed a provincial court judge from British Columbia to the Federal Court. On November 29, 1995 the justice minister appointed Douglas Campbell of the provincial court, criminal division, in Vancouver to the Federal Court of Canada. The legislation at the time permitted any judge of a superior county or district court to be appointed to the Federal Court, but Judge Campbell was a judge of the provincial court. We are therefore debating a technical amendment to the Federal Court Act to deal with this oversight.

It is a technical amendment, since the current legislation also includes provisions that a barrister or advocate who has been at the bar of a province for at least 10 years is also eligible for an appointment. Therefore, while Judge Campbell was not from the proper judge pool, he did in fact have the necessary years of experience to qualify.

At the Reform Party's national assembly, which was held in Vancouver two weekends ago, the delegates voted 75 per cent in favour of the following resolution:

Resolve that the Reform Party supports dissolving the current system of appointing federal judges and replacing it with a democratic and accountable method.

We feel that political patronage in the appointment of judges has been an albatross around the necks of Canadians for years and that it has to stop. Only with a more transparent appointment process can Canadians be satisfied that the integrity of our justice system is protected.

For the reasons I have mentioned, the Reform Party will not be supporting Bill C-48. We believe it is time to de-politicize the appointment process in putting men and women on the benches of the courts of our land. This cannot be achieved until the process is open and accountable.

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is the House ready for the question?

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and, by unanimous consent, the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Kilger in the chair.)

Federal Court Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman

Order. House in committee of the whole on Bill C-48, an act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Judges Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act.

Shall clause 1 carry?

on clause 1.