Mr. Speaker, we are discussing Bill C-48, an act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Judges Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act. This is the third piece of legislation brought before the House since February of this year dealing with amendments to the Judges Act. I have to question why the government is making all of these piecemeal changes instead of bringing in one bill to satisfy all the administrative and technical changes it feels are necessary.
This bill has been brought in specifically to correct a situation where the justice minister appointed a provincial court judge from British Columbia to the Federal Court. On November 29, 1995 the justice minister appointed Douglas Campbell of the provincial court, criminal division, in Vancouver to the Federal Court of Canada. The legislation at the time permitted any judge of a superior county or district court to be appointed to the Federal Court, but Judge Campbell was a judge of the provincial court. We are therefore debating a technical amendment to the Federal Court Act to deal with this oversight.
It is a technical amendment, since the current legislation also includes provisions that a barrister or advocate who has been at the bar of a province for at least 10 years is also eligible for an appointment. Therefore, while Judge Campbell was not from the proper judge pool, he did in fact have the necessary years of experience to qualify.
At the Reform Party's national assembly, which was held in Vancouver two weekends ago, the delegates voted 75 per cent in favour of the following resolution:
Resolve that the Reform Party supports dissolving the current system of appointing federal judges and replacing it with a democratic and accountable method.
We feel that political patronage in the appointment of judges has been an albatross around the necks of Canadians for years and that it has to stop. Only with a more transparent appointment process can Canadians be satisfied that the integrity of our justice system is protected.
For the reasons I have mentioned, the Reform Party will not be supporting Bill C-48. We believe it is time to de-politicize the appointment process in putting men and women on the benches of the courts of our land. This cannot be achieved until the process is open and accountable.