Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to welcome the minister to the committee and thank her for being here today.
I'd like to begin by setting the backdrop, if I may, with a quick recap of the summer all of us parliamentarians have been experiencing. I think we're witnessing a fundamental shift in the executive branch's attitude towards the legislative branch, and, as we are seeing, it's becoming quite the problem. Allow me to explain.
We have the government's decision to deploy troops to Latvia without the least bit of discussion in Parliament, despite the fact that, when they were part of the opposition, the Liberals were very vocal about the need to consult Parliament on any decision to send our troops abroad. Then, we have the talks that took place in the Prime Minister's very own office with the parliamentary budget officer—not the Prime Minister's budget officer, I would point out, but indeed the parliamentary budget officer. No matter what example we use, we've seen this strong trend building yet again. In this case, a mere letter was sent out, not to every newspaper simultaneously, but to just two of them, The Globe and Mail, which published the letter in its print edition, and La Presse, which obviously no longer puts out a print edition on weekdays.
I tried to understand the legal nature of what we have before us today. I searched high and low to see what the law says about statutory instruments, but to no avail. I found a reference to publication in the Canada Gazette, but there's no mention of publication in the Gazette. We are trying, unsuccessfully, to figure out whether this involves a substantive change, as the Supreme Court indicated in Nadon. In its decision, the court deemed such a substantive change ultra vires of Parliament itself. The ultra vires finding is even more applicable when you have the executive branch making substantive changes of this nature. As my Conservative colleague, a former attorney general, pointed out, the century-old convention of appointing judges from regions of the country such as Atlantic Canada cannot simply be flouted as though it were business as usual. What we're dealing with here is completely short-lived.
My first question for the minister has to do with one of the first criteria she talked about today, that is, that a judge be able to understand and read both official languages. On that point, I want to thank the former member for Acadie—Bathurst, Yvon Godin, who fought so persistently to make bilingualism a requirement for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court.
I have been in Parliament for nine years, and this is at least the third completely different set of criteria for judicial appointments to the Supreme Court I have seen in that time. If the minister is indeed sincere when she says she wants judges to be bilingual, why has she still done nothing about it? The Liberals have been in power for nearly a year. We've known since March that Justice Cromwell was retiring, and yet this is all being done in haste. It's a completely short-lived solution. There is absolutely nothing permanent about the process being announced today.
If the minister feels so strongly about making bilingualism a condition of judicial appointments to the Supreme Court, why, then, was she content to have the Prime Minister submit a simple letter to two newspapers? Given her party's majority in the House of Commons, why did she not use her authority to enshrine the process in law? Why be satisfied with such a short-lived solution?