House of Commons photo

Track Sean

Your Say

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is justice.

Liberal MP for Charlottetown (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 56% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Justice September 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the decisions taken by the Supreme Court affect us all.

The process that was employed by the previous government was opaque, outdated, and in need of an overhaul. That is why our government has announced a new Supreme Court of Canada appointment process that is open and transparent. Under this process, the advisory board will identify suitable candidates who will be jurists of the highest calibre. They will be functionally bilingual, and they will be representative of the diversity of our great country.

I am pleased to report that the list contains candidates from Atlantic Canada, and we can certainly compete—

Justice September 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the process used by the previous government to appoint Supreme Court justices was opaque, outdated, and in need of an overhaul. We have announced a new appointment process that is open, transparent, and will set a much higher standard for accountability. As mandated by our Prime Minister, the list of qualified and functionally bilingual candidates, developed by the advisory board, includes candidates from Atlantic Canada.

I am very pleased with the new-found interest in Atlantic Canada expressed by the member for Niagara Falls.

Official Languages September 26th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, access to justice in both official languages is an issue that affects all Canadians. Canadians want to live in a law-abiding society that has a justice system that is fair and accessible for everyone.

In criminal justice, these principles mean that the lower courts have to be able to operate in French or in English, according to the official language chosen by the accused for his or her trial. The government's commitment regarding official languages, and more specifically the administration of justice, is undeniable.

On behalf of the government, I thank my colleague for his question and for his commitment to ensuring that the justice system is accessible to members of official language minority communities and to all Canadians.

Official Languages September 26th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, access to justice in both official languages is an important issue for our country. Canadians want to live in a law-abiding society with a fair, accessible, and equitable justice system.

On August 2, 2016, the Prime Minister announced a new process for appointing Supreme Court of Canada justices that is open and transparent and that sets a stricter standard for accountability. It is important to many Canadians that the Supreme Court be able to work in both official languages.

The qualifications and assessment criteria that were established to fill the current vacancy indicate “that a Supreme Court judge can read materials and understand oral argument without the need for translation or interpretation in French and English.” The government's commitment to meeting the Supreme Court's institutional needs in this process is closely aligned with the proposals put forward by the hon. member.

The Supreme Court of Canada is Canada's final court of appeal. It serves Canadians by deciding legal issues of public importance, thereby contributing to the development of both civil and common law in Canada.

The importance of the court’s decisions for Canadian society is well recognized. The court assures uniformity, consistency and correctness in the articulation, development and interpretation of legal principles throughout the Canadian judicial system.

The Supreme Court is one of our most respected national institutions, and its excellent reputation is well-deserved. Our government wants to uphold and safeguard the tradition of appointing outstanding individuals to the court. Fortunately, Canada has many exceptional jurists to choose from.

In closing, I can assure members of the House that we know key players in the justice system must be bilingual if members of official language minority communities, like all Canadians, are to have equal access to justice in our courts.

I would like to reiterate how proud we are that Canadians have access to a final court of appeal that is known and respected worldwide for its excellence, professionalism, integrity, and independence. It is also important for the Supreme Court to reflect the diversity and bilingualism of Canadian society.

Justice September 26th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the process employed by the previous government for Supreme Court of Canada appointees was opaque and badly in need of an overhaul. That is the reason why there was a new process that increased transparency, that increased accountability, and that is why the advisory committee has been asked to identify suitable candidates. These will be jurists of the highest calibre. They will be functionally bilingual, and they will be representative of the diversity of our great country. That list will include candidates from Atlantic Canada.

Justice September 26th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the process used to appoint Supreme Court justices by the previous government was opaque, outdated, and in need of an overhaul. In the mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the advisory board, they were asked that when making their selections they consider the custom of regional representation on the court as being one of the factors to be taken into consideration. Therefore, the list of qualified and functionally bilingual candidates developed by the advisory board includes candidates from Atlantic Canada and they are perfectly capable of competing in a national competition.

Business of Supply September 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Drummond for his speech. I will be talking about the same thing. He spoke about bilingualism and the private member's bill that he introduced. However, he knows very well that the policy announced by the Prime Minister will ensure that bilingual judges will be appointed from now on. We adopted a definition of functional bilingualism.

Requiring bilingualism is not really a big leap because the Prime Minister has already done that. Is it really necessary to pass a bill when we now have a policy that will guarantee that bilingual judges are appointed?

Why should we ask the Supreme Court to rule on whether this is constitutional when the result will be the same? As we know, 13 of the last 15 judges were bilingual to some degree. Therefore, it is not really a great leap.

Business of Supply September 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, with the last comment from the member for Calgary Shepard, I am a little confused. I would have thought that the objective of his speech would be to solicit support for his motion. Now he is encouraging us to vote against it. However, we fully intend to support the motion.

One of the other things he said was that, while we respect the custom of regional representation, we have no intention of fulfilling it. He must have had some conversation with the Prime Minister of which I am unaware. At no time that I know of has the Prime Minister ever said that he has no intention of carrying out a full measure of respect for the custom of regional representation.

I do agree with one thing the member said. He specifically said that there is only one situation where there is a legal requirement and that is in Quebec.

However, the question I have for the member is on his reference to a secret process. I would invite him to offer comment on the role that parliamentarians have in the process of the nomination of a Supreme Court judge, and to compare the role that parliamentarians are being assigned in this process to the one they had in the last one.

Business of Supply September 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the very last couple of comments made by my colleague opposite, in which he accused the government of being disrespectful of Parliament and of the court. I would ask him to hark back maybe a year or two with respect to the public spat between his former boss, Stephen Harper, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court and ask whether we should take direction from his side of the aisle with regard to respect for the court.

When the member talks about respect for Parliament, perhaps I could also ask him to hark back to the time during the office of Stephen Harper and tell us about the value of parliamentarians in this process, as set out for this appointment, as compared to the last one.

Business of Supply September 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Milton, originally from Cape Breton, for her contribution to the debate today. There were a couple of things she said in error, and if I may, I am going to point them out. She can feel free to respond.

She suggested that a criterion for the next Supreme Court of Canada judge is that the person be fluently bilingual. That is not the case. The requirement is that the person be functionally bilingual, and the definition of “functionally bilingual” is set out. She may also wish to be aware that 13 of the last 15 judges appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada have been functionally bilingual.

The motion that has been presented by her party does not refer to the Constitution. It does not refer to a convention. It refers to a custom. Liberals support the motion and agree with the custom and will respect the custom. She suggested that this has risen to the level of, as she said, a constitutional requirement, a constitutional rule, or part of the Constitution. I would be interested in her authority for that and in why it is not included in the motion.