I am happy to see you all and I appreciate the atmosphere here. I respect the work you do for Canadians.
I would like to say on behalf of all of the members of the independent advisory board how honoured and delighted we were to be given this task.
I can tell you that it was a great honour for me to chair a remarkable group of people. One of them, when I was able to call on Monday to say who the Prime Minister's nominee would be, complimented me as chair. I said it was like conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. They really were a wonderful group of people devoted solely to producing the very best possible list of candidates. As we said, our goal was to create a list that would keep the Prime Minister up at night trying to figure out which one of these excellent people to appoint.
Shortly after our appointment was announced, we convened by conference call. Time was limited. The announcement went out August 2, and the deadline was August 24. We wanted to use that time as expeditiously as possible.
One of the terms of reference was for us to reach out and solicit good candidates for the courts. The first thing we did was to send the materials to all of the organizations represented on the committee and then to reach out further to every other organization of lawyers that we could think of in the country. I said I thought we should err on the side of overkill, so it was every possible kind of organization. I think there were about 19 different organizations in addition to the four: the Canadian Judicial Council, the Canadian Bar Association, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and the Council of Canadian Law Deans
We occasionally received, in reply to these missives, letters recommending individual candidates, and we immediately sent material to those individuals. We said that their name had been put forward with a strong recommendation that they would make an excellent judge on the Supreme Court of Canada. We asked them to please review the materials, and if it interested them, we warmly encouraged them to apply. That did in fact encourage some people to apply. This is something that we can talk about later.
One of the interesting transitions of this is that we all know that for many senior jurists or senior members of the profession, the idea of applying is sometimes difficult. Finding ways to encourage people to apply was something we wanted to do.
We were very delighted that there was a good response. We met in Ottawa on August 16 in person to discuss the process that we would pursue and to have a meeting with the Chief Justice. Chief Justice McLachlin was available at that time. That meeting, in which we had a very good conversation with her about what it actually means to serve on the court, what things actually help someone to succeed in that court, what the needs of the court are, was very helpful to us. We were very grateful to her for the time we spent with her. It was a very open conversation among the members of the committee and the Chief Justice.
We received 31 applications. I won the pool—I had guessed 32. I won the envelope of toonies that we had put together. I know you are shocked to hear that there was gambling on that committee.