In the case of the Justices of the Peace Review Council, it should, in particular, be independent of the government. The government should not be perceived to be influencing or having any role in the outcome, so that it is independent of the government. That is why the chief justice appoints some of the members. Although the attorney general and the Lieutenant Governor in Council do play a role in appointing community members, to my understanding that's because that process is done through the Public Appointments Secretariat, which probably also exists by analogy in the federal system. The law society, of course, puts forward three names. The law society is effectively doing a preliminary screen.
The result is that the people who are investigating complaints and making the decisions on the complaints are doing that independently, based on the input they bring from their various backgrounds, not controlled by any person.
The other layer that supports that independence is the confidentiality of the process, which has, in fact, been challenged by the media. The Toronto Star challenged it recently with regard to another body that I support and that's analogous to this one. The confidentiality of the process means, for example, that even though the chief justice has a role in appointing members of the bench to the body, she does not have knowledge of complaints that come in the door unless a public hearing is ordered or unless a disposition is a referral of a complaint to her. Confidentiality in the process supports that independence.
My experience, in the eight years I've been there, is that having the body making its decisions independently, but also having their procedures public so that people know what's happening...and also having an annual report.... When you have an opportunity to look at the annual report, you'll see that it does provide case summaries on every complaint that comes in the door. If it's not ordered to be a public hearing, there are still case summaries provided.
I have participated with a group of lawyers who do what I do in the States. My experience has been that the annual report put out by the review council provides, comparatively speaking, a fairly high degree of detail on the nature of complaints that come in the door. When you have an independent body making decisions, everyone knows the kind of people who are on the decision-making bodies—the complaints committee and the hearing panel—and everybody knows, if they read the annual report, the kinds of complaints that come in, how they are addressed, and the reasons they are addressed. That all supports the public confidence in the process. In some provinces they don't have a body set up like this one. If a complaint simply goes to a chief justice, those additional supports to preserve or restore public confidence are not, respectfully, the same, in my opinion.
I don't know if that answers the question.