Mr. Speaker, the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell is a staunch defender of minority rights, especially minority language rights, in his native province.
However, I would like to tell him that I found his question quite surprising. The member stated, without me putting words in his mouth, that if ministerial discretion is taken away, it will be more difficult for minorities to get judicial appointments. He is nodding in agreement. So he is saying—and I presume that we disagree on that point—that minorities would not qualify based on the merit principle only.
Having attended the Laval University law school and the University of Western Ontario, I am convinced that people from linguistic, cultural, ethnic or religious minorities are just as qualified to be in the “highly recommendable” group as the majority of Canadians, who form the pool from which the selection is made.
I am not saying that there can be absolutely no ministerial discretion. That has to be clearly understood. The judiciary must reflect as much as possible the society that it is supposed to serve, which means that issues such as gender and ethnicity can be discussed. I am not saying that there should be no discretion whatsoever. However, I am saying that it has to be tightened somewhat.
The member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell may not agree with me as to the degree of latitude that must be given to the minister, but it is not black and white; it is a grey area. Between ministerial discretion as it is now and taking away such discretion completely, there is some manoeuvring room, and that can be discussed at the subcommittee which, I hope, will be struck as a result of this opposition day.