Actually, we didn't rank them. In the first go-round we just said, “yes”, “no”, “maybe”. That was the first thing. In other words, we said yes, to go to the next stage, and no, if we thought, for whatever reason, this candidate.... It was usually, perhaps, because the person had not had a lot of experience compared to the others, didn't have that kind of ability, and then maybe it was, “Oh, this is a tough one”, and that's where we had the very interesting conversations.
The assessment criteria are actually in the terms of reference, and I think were very much what we looked at: personal skills and experience, so superior knowledge of the law—we looked for knowledge of the law and legal judgment; analytical skills and the ability to resolve complex legal questions; the ability to work under time pressures, clearly; a commitment to public service. It's in the terms of reference.
Then there were personal qualities. An irreproachable personal and professional integrity. This we explored quite forcefully with the different references to whom we spoke about the people: “What can you tell us about this person? In your view, is there anything that would come back to haunt, etc.?” We looked for respect and consideration for others; I think that's important. We questioned on an ability to appreciate a diversity of views, perspectives, and life experiences, including those relating to groups historically disadvantaged in Canadian society. Again, it was very interesting to see how those answers unfolded, often through personal experience, often through their lifetime experience. That was important to us. What is that texture? How has Canadian life, in all of its diversity, impacted on this individual in his or her understanding? We also looked at moral courage, discretion, open-mindedness. Those were the personal qualities we looked at.
Then there were the institutional needs of the court: ensuring a reasonable balance between public and private law expertise, bearing in mind the historic patterns of distribution between these areas in the Supreme Court; expertise in any specific subject matter that regularly features in appeals and is currently under-represented on the court; and ensuring that the members of the Supreme Court are reasonably reflective of the diversity of Canadian society.
One of the things that interested me very much about Justice Rowe was his experience in government, both as head of the civil service in Newfoundland and then his work as a foreign service officer. There will be, probably, interesting cases with respect to jurisdictional disputes, etc., the balancing of federal-provincial relations in all sorts of areas of policy and with indigenous issues, environmental policy, etc. I thought that experience, plus his broad experience in the country, positioned him well to be a constructive participant in the law in that area.
At the very beginning we joked and said, well, if we could deconstruct all these people and take part of this and part of this, but that's not how it works. People are full-fledged human beings and you have to see them in their entirety. It's actually very reassuring. I think you would enjoy it very much to appreciate how a person can be wonderful in many different ways and can bring a kind of humanity and wisdom from many different sources. At the end of the day, that person, if he or she goes to the Supreme Court of Canada, has to be a legal thinker, has to be a jurist, has to be able to write, has to be able to collaborate effectively with other judges on the court. The wonderfulness that would make somebody effective on the court can take many different forms, and that was why, for us, it's not like you're comparing apples and oranges, it's like you're comparing many different wonderful types of apple. I love McIntosh and I like to cook with the Bramley. In other words, they were all quite splendid, but how they got there was unique to each one of them. It was a great privilege and hard work to look at these people and say, what can we give to the Prime Minister that will give him some choice, but no matter which candidate he chooses, he can't go wrong, that person will be an adornment to the court?