Mr. Speaker, I have listened to our colleague with interest. I often agree with him, but not this time.
As far as the process of appointing judges is concerned, I spent nearly seven and one-half years in cabinet. I have often seen candidate lists. There is a major problem—as the Minister of Justice could tell us—in finding representatives of minorities to apply for judgeships, and then to get their names onto the list. If the minister has less discretion in choosing between “highly recommended” and “recommended”, these minorities will be even less well served.
I will give an example. For a long time, there were no francophone candidates in my province, not a single one. We just about had to hold a recruitment drive to encourage people to apply. If this were narrowed down still further, minorities would be shut out of the judiciary. I think this will serve us very badly. We need to maintain the minister's latitude to consult the list, choose from it and say that all those on it are qualified. No one is proposing to recruit, and appoint, the rejects.
As for the qualified candidates, we must ensure there are enough magistrates from any given group or language or racial minority. These people do not see themselves in the judiciary and must be sought out. I know that the Minister of Justice is very much aware of some of the difficulties connected with this, and we have spoken together about it in the past.
My response to my colleague is that there may be improvements to be made in the structure; that I do accept. But what I personally do not accept is removing all or most of the ministerial discretion. In my opinion, it is very difficult at this time, in my province at least, to find a number of candidates to serve the public. I am not just reporting hearsay; I have seen it for myself for years. I have personally telephoned around to lawyers I knew to try and recruit them as candidates. I knew they would be good, and I would ask them “Mr. or Ms. So-and-So, would you please be a candidate? We need people like you”.
That is what needs doing, not discouraging them further.