Mr. Speaker, I address the House today on Bill C-48, an act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Judges Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act.
Under the Judges Act, judges of provincial superior courts and appellate courts may be appointed from applicants who have at least 10 years at the bar or as provincial court judges. However under the Federal Court Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act eligibility for appointment to each of these two courts is limited to persons who have 10 years at the bar or who are already federally appointed judges.
Since the time served as a provincially appointed judge does not count toward eligibility for appointment to the federal court or the tax court as it does for appointments to the provincial, superior and appellate courts, this historic anomaly effectively disqualifies from appointment to these two courts any provincial court judge notwithstanding his or her extremely high qualifications who had practised law for less than 10 years prior to his or her appointment to the provincial court.
There is no legal or policy reason for so limiting the appointments to the federal court or the tax court in this way. Furthermore, in all three acts time spent as a provincially or federally appointed judicial officer such as a master or superior court registrar during which the applicant's membership in the bar may have been in abeyance also does not count toward the 10-year eligibility requirement for the appointment to the provincial, superior and appellate courts, the federal court and the tax court.
Bill C-48 would amend all three acts to make the appointment eligibility requirements consistent. Once these amendments are in effect, time spent either as a lawyer, a provincially or federally appointed judicial officer or a provincially or federally appointed judge would count toward the 10 years at the bar requirement for appointment to any federally appointed court, with the exception of the Supreme Court of Canada.
For the supreme court it would continue to be the case that only lawyers of 10 years standing or provincial superior court judges would be eligible for appointment.
The amendments to the Federal Court Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act are being given retrospective effect so as to place the validity of the appointment of a judge appointed in 1990 and another appointed in 1995 beyond any possible doubt regardless of how one interprets the provincial laws governing the status of those judges continuing membership in the bar while they were provincial judges.
That is all Bill C-48 does. It is a very simple bill with a very limited technical objective. I urge all hon. members to pursue quick passage.
I ask at this time for unanimous consent for the House to take all necessary steps to pass and adopt the bill expeditiously today.