Evidence of meeting #41 for Justice and Human Rights in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was process.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Hon. Kim Campbell  Chairperson, Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Iqra Khalid

Answer very briefly, please.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Just before I turn it over to Ms. Campbell, yes; it's one of the criteria. We do want to achieve gender parity on that court, and it remains an overarching priority.

11:25 a.m.

Chairperson, Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments

Kim Campbell

Absolutely. There is another Ontario seat that will be up in 2022, when Justice Moldaver retires.

These are difficult choices. There is no question that this was a consideration. At the end of the day, the Prime Minister made a choice to have a new, hitherto unrepresented or not present form of representation on the court. Those are difficult choices, but I think there's no question about it that this is a concern and—

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Iqra Khalid

Thank you very much.

We will now go to our last questioner for this panel.

Mr. Virani, please go ahead.

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

I want to say thank you to the minister and thank you to the Right Honourable Kim Campbell for being here with us. It is a distinct pleasure to have you and to have your wisdom shared with the committee.

To the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, I want to ask you about this tapping reference you made right at the outset, because I really think it encapsulates a lot of the barriers for under-represented communities coming forward or being asked to come forward. As you aptly put it, those shoulders are not traditionally the ones that are tapped.

Can you talk about your analysis and how you get at the foundations of those kinds of concerns, because when you work on diversifying the bench, something we have committed to as a government, you find sometimes that there isn't the applicant pool. Where do you think it needs to start? Do we need to start at the law school level, encouraging people from under-represented groups to apply to become lawyers so that they one day become puisne judges and so one day they get to the point of becoming potential candidates for a Supreme Court appointment such as the one that is being proposed for Justice Jamal?

Ms. Campbell, can you refer to that?

11:25 a.m.

Chairperson, Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments

Kim Campbell

I think it's all of the above. All of those things are important.

I sometimes say that when I became prime minister, nobody who looked or sounded like me had ever done that job before. It was the same thing when I became minister of justice. What you want to do is to create a sense of the ordinariness of a whole different variety of people who do certain jobs. When we interviewed Justice Jamal in the course of our proceedings, one of the things he said was how touched he was by the number of racialized lawyers and judges who looked to him when he went to the Ontario court of appeal. He hadn't expected that.

It was very [Technical difficulty—Editor]. In all of these things, the more people you get, the greater the diversity of faces, views, backgrounds and realities, the more others see themselves reflected. It starts at the bottom and it goes all the way up. It means making sure that you're not just tapping the shoulders of those who are the most familiar to you.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Can I follow up briefly on one other point? Traditionally, we also find, when recruiting members to the bench, that there are some traditional barriers. Some people might feel awkward, that maybe it's not for them. There might be financial barriers. You might think about Bay Street lawyers coming from a firm like Justice Jamal's. Having practised in Toronto, I understand sometimes that's a very real concern.

What kinds of obstacles are you encountering, even in this recruitment process? I understand that an elevation to the Supreme Court of Canada should be the absolute top career achievement for virtually any lawyer. Could you provide us with some insights about some barriers that you're still encountering from those who might be erstwhile candidates?

11:30 a.m.

Chairperson, Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments

Kim Campbell

Geographical barriers have been very significant, because of the requirement to live in the national capital region. I can't speak for the financial one. There was once a case in Vancouver where a very distinguished lawyer got named to the court, and his wife asked if he had any idea how much a judge made. He had to scramble to try to get himself unappointed when he realized that he wasn't prepared for that salary cut.

Most of the people who apply, obviously, are aware of what it will mean. If they've been earning a lot of money, they're quite prepared not to. If they're going to get an increase, that's good too.

I think it's the geographical barrier, and the fear of the loneliness of it. Many of these candidates, these successful judges, are very sociable people. They're in the law because they care about people and they see the law as a way of making people's lives better. The constraints on a Supreme Court of Canada judge in terms of how they socialize—sitting around the bar, chewing the fat with people—is also a concern for some, and how that will affect them.

One thing we find—and we ask the candidates how they anticipate making the transition—is that most of them have had serious discussions with their families and with their children. They're quite realistic about what it will be. I've suggested that it would be great if we could get some retired justices from the Supreme Court to go out and do public events around the country and talk about that life, to try to answer people's questions and address their doubts.

At the end of the day, for some people, it is a significant sacrifice. Some are willing to do it and some are not, just like many lawyers want to be judges and others don't.

It's a matter of making sure that nobody who could make a contribution, or who would want to, is deterred from putting themselves forward. That's the key, I think.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Iqra Khalid

Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Virani. That concludes your time.

At this time, I'll thank Minister Lametti and the Right Honourable Kim Campbell.

Ms. Campbell, you have blazed trails that people like me walk along now. I can't begin to tell you how much we appreciate all your hard work and your dedication to service to our country.

Thank you so much, on behalf of all committee members and me, for being here today.

11:30 a.m.

Chairperson, Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments

Kim Campbell

The rule of law is the most important thing in a democracy, so thank you all for being a part of that process.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Chair, on a point of order, I don't want to disappoint our guests, particularly Minister Lametti, but I thought we were meeting for two hours on this topic, and then going into committee for half an hour for the study that we're dealing with.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Iqra Khalid

You are [Technical difficulty—Editor] in that the meeting itself is two hours long. We have to go in camera now. We have to take into account the 15 minutes that it takes to suspend and then to go and log into the in camera meeting. I hope you will indulge.

I'm really looking forward to completing this report today. I know there are a number of things that we need to discuss specifically with regard to that report.

With members' permission, we'll go ahead and suspend.

Your Zoom link should be in the email that you received for the link for this meeting as well.

Thank you very much, Ms. Campbell.

The meeting is now suspended.

[Proceedings continue in camera]