Mr. Speaker, I have discussed this question with the hon. member outside this chamber. As a matter of principle, the appointments process in my view is an independent, merit based one, at arm's-length from the minister, under the superceding authority of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs.
However, this does not mean that in its operational capacities the system cannot be improved and therefore, for that purpose, I have convened the chair of the judicial advisory committees to ask how the system can be improved and to consult with a group of outside experts for the same purposes. In addition, there will be consultations on how to improve the diversity of our system.
Dealing with the issue of bilingual judges, if I look in terms of my own range of appointments, we have appointed a francophone to the Supreme Court of Canada and another to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The first appointment that I made to the Federal Court of Canada was also a francophone and we have appointed other bilingual candidates.
The main issue is how do we promote more applications from bilingual and francophone jurists. It is not only a question of whom we can choose from the pool. It is a question of whether francophone and bilingual applicants are themselves initiating that application process whereupon an evaluation and a choice can then be made.
It may involve more of an outreach capacity by the judicial advisory committees and the like. It may be that non-governmental associations may have to themselves engage more in the nomination of people otherwise merit based. I want to stress otherwise merit based, but who would also, if appointed, reflect the diversity.
In my view, the question is, how do we operationally include more applicants that will reflect the diversity of this country rather than any changes to the framework from the point of view of principle, let alone the constitutional framework itself?