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House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Liberalfor the Minister of Justice

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 1996 / 4:35 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Liberalfor the Minister of Justice

moved that Bill C-48, an act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Judges Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Prince Albert—Churchill River Saskatchewan

Liberal

Gordon Kirkby LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

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.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The parliamentary secretary has asked for unanimous consent of the House to move the legislation forward today at all stages.

Is there unanimous consent?

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to confirm that we will in fact be giving our support, because we already indicated it to the parliamentary secretary earlier. We are therefore keeping our promise.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I still have to ask the House in its entirety. Would the hon. member for Calgary North care to comment, or can I simply ask if there is unanimous consent to proceed at all stages?

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, we oppose the bill. However we do not oppose the process of passing it through all stages today.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is the House giving its unanimous consent to proceed at all stages?

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, quite honestly, as for having a great debate on a piece of legislation that simply changes the number of years a judge must sit before being eligible for the federal court or the tax court of Canada, I really could not bring myself to make Parliament or our electors foot the bill for such a thing.

However, I will say that I would like to add a really minor amendment, but only we study the bill in the committee of the whole.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

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.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is the House ready for the question?

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and, by unanimous consent, the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Kilger in the chair.)

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman

Order. House in committee of the whole on Bill C-48, an act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Judges Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act.

Shall clause 1 carry?

on clause 1.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I have just said, I did not speak on this, I did not take the time allocated to me because I simply wanted have the time to propose an amendment.

Bill C-48 has our agreement in principle, we agree that certain technical details do, of course, have to be modified, but if changes are going to be made, I feel it would be worthwhile to add my amendment. I shall speak of it now and provide you with the written copy immediately afterwards.

I move:

That clause 1, page 1, line 18, be amended by the addition of the following paragraph:

"(d) is or has been a notary of at least ten years standing as a member of the Chambre des notaires du Québec."

This would simply make notaries eligible to become Federal Court judges, which I feel would be a matter of equity. This is something the Quebec notaries have long been calling for, and our having a Civil Code and not the Common Law is no reason we ought not to have the right to have judges from the Chambre des notaires. That is the reason I am proposing this amendment.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman

Colleagues, on a prima facie basis it would appear that this amendment is in order. I would ask the hon. parliamentary secretary who is seeking the floor for his comments.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Prince Albert—Churchill River Saskatchewan

Liberal

Gordon Kirkby LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Chairman, I would suggest that the proposed amendment is out of order.

Section 98 of the Constitution requires that judges of the courts of Quebec be selected from the bar of the province. Notaries are not members of the bar of the province. Therefore it would not be possible to put forward such an amendment.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in response to what the hon. parliamentary secretary just said, perhaps I should point out that the charter of rights and freedoms certainly does not encourage discriminating against notaries to favour lawyers.

I think that, if the idea is to make this a constitutional or charter issue, it is up to the hon. members to decide whether they want to do so.

Federal Court ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman

The hon. parliamentary secretary.