Mr. Speaker, yes, this is another one of those bills where we can put one foot on one side and the other foot on the other side. It gives rise for concern. On the addition of the judges, we must support that. If I could put it this way, it is supportable.
However there are aspects to this bill which suggest that if the judges do not receive this remuneration, it could be considered as improper interference in the judicial independence of our judges. If that is true, we will find out when this bill is sent to committee. There is the example in Alberta. It is a reverse example because they wanted to reduce by 5% the pay of all civil servants, including judges. It was ruled that it appeared to constitute a political interference into the judicial independence of our judges.
If that is a part of this bill, then what does it ultimately mean? It means that our federal judges, with respect to them, can make a demand upon the public purse. Even if it is considered to be unreasonable, it is almost like a gun is being held to the heads of the elected representatives of the country. If they deny it, they will then be in a position where they can be accused of interfering with the judicial independence of the courts. Any defence counsel can then come into court and say “My Lord, I want you to dismiss the case because your judicial independence has been interfered with and you cannot render a fair and just hearing to my client”.
We as a committee want to look at that. I will certainly be asking questions about it.
Yes, this bill contains aspects I can personally support but it contains aspects that I have real concerns about as well.