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Trudeau's changes to the supreme court

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I remain, as I have always been, firmly committed to the belief that the only reason to appoint or elect anyone to high office is merit. Clearly, others, such as Trudeau, who got their job despite their lack of merit, are less attached to the concept.

Now I don't necessarily have a problem with doing away with the long-accepted convention of appointing judges based on regional representation. I never really thought much of that to begin with. So doing away with it in order to appoint the BEST judge is something I can agree with. But that's not what Trudeau plans. He wants to do away with regional representation, apparently, because it's hard to find enough bilingual lesbian muslim judges in Newfoundland.

Clearly, insisting on bilingualism as a prerequisite for consideration shuts out about 98% of the lawyers in English Canada. That's particularly so of lawyers from outside Central Canada and parts of New Brunswick. Finding a bilingual lawyer in Vancouver qualified to sit on the Supreme Court? Good luck with that one! If you put together a list of the top 1000 lawyers in BC, the odds that any of them would be fluent in French is vanishingly small unless they're someone who moved there from Quebec.

And the odds that if you found one he er she would have the right progressive credentials and the right skin color and ethnicity are even smaller.

What we're likely to wind up with is nine judges from central Canada, most from Quebec, or Francophones from eastern and northern Ontario. Of course, half or more than half will be women, and we'll have to have an east indian, a muslim, an african and a native in there.

Merit? Not so much!

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/08/02/news/trudeau-announces-new-selection-process-supreme-court-canada-judges

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I remain, as I have always been, firmly committed to the belief that the only reason to appoint or elect anyone to high office is merit. Clearly, others, such as Trudeau, who got their job despite their lack of merit, are less attached to the concept.

Well you don't share that with any prime minister ever. This, with the regional requirement removed, is actually just as close to merit as the previous method, if not more so.

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Well you don't share that with any prime minister ever. This, with the regional requirement removed, is actually just as close to merit as the previous method, if not more so.

Don't be ludicrous. Its even less close to merit. You're going to have all supreme court judges be from that tiny community of bilingual liberal elites from the central Canada. Talk about diversity! Ha! No diversity of thought there!

Not that liberals are comfortable with diversity of thought, of course.

Shutting out 98% of Anglos in order to please Quebec is not my idea of a good deal. Then again, I didn't vote for a prime minister who made it explicitly clear he considered himself a Quebecer first and a Canadian a distant second.

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It's a bilingual country... it's not difficult to learn French... or English...

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It's a bilingual country... it's not difficult to learn French... or English...

No, it's NOT a bilingual country. We have 9 provinces and 3 territories where, on average, less than 2% of the population is French, and one self-declared 'unilingual French' province. Outside a very few areas like Ottawa, west Quebec and Montreal, and maybe a few parts of New Brunswick and northern Ontario, there are precious few bilingual people.

And it is EXTREMELY difficult to learn another language once you're grown. I saw plenty of people off to year long French language school when I worked for the government, and heard their halting French on return. Just about the only people who are really fluently bilingual in Canada are Francophones who grow up outside Quebec and Anglophones who grow up within it. Or those who have both a French and English parent.

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The U.S. would have more of a claim to be a bilingual country than we do. Just throwing that out there.

But as I said with the Senate appointments, and some will disagree, but I doubt this system will hold under a future Conservative government.

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I think its important its undertood the tradition of keeping the Supreme Court bilingual in balance, and geographically (regionally) balanced is crucial.

I think if push comes to shove, the selection process be challenged if it does not continue to honour regional and bilingual balance at the Supreme Court under the argument both considerations are unwritten constitutional protocols that are fundamental assumptions as to what this nation was built on.

Hopefully the balancing of French and English, loi civil and common law judges, and judges from the major regions of Canada (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, West, North) be honoured. To do otherwise is a recipe for provincial discontent. Eventually one day an aboriginal Supreme Court Judge would be nice. The current Justice Minister down the run will probably be pressured to take on that task.

I can't imagine a more difficult job. Its not pleasant. You read until your armpits fall off, then you read some more and a lot of it is boring and you have to be disciplined, logical and obsessed with precision and detail. Uh no thanks.

My hats off to them for taking on the job. Its an honour but its bloody hard work and if you are smart enough to be considered for it, you can make 10 times as much money in private practice so when they do accept the appointment believe me they aren't doing it for the pay. The amount of hours they work is mind blowing. Like try every day at least 12 hours.

Edited by Rue

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No, it's NOT a bilingual country.

It is according to the Charter, according to the rest of the Constitution and according to federal law.

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The U.S. would have more of a claim to be a bilingual country than we do. Just throwing that out there.

But as I said with the Senate appointments, and some will disagree, but I doubt this system will hold under a future Conservative government.

Except we are constitutionally a bilingual country.

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Except we are constitutionally a bilingual country.

We are also constitutionally required to appoint judges that represent the different regions. Insisting on bilingualism for regions where bilingualism is rare denies those regions adequate representation. For example, Newfoundland has never has a SCC judge since confederation but all of its judges are now excluded because of this rule. I would say the regional representation requirement (legal and spirit) trumps any ad-hoc rule invented by a government.

The ironic is that lefties always complain about exclusionary job requirements when it affects people the care about. For example, the physical fitness requirements for firefighters have long excluded women despite the fact that they are generally reasonable. Despite that lefties push for those requirements to be watered down in the name of 'diversity'. Why aren't lefties up in arms about a rule that will only serve to decrease diversity on the SCC?

Edited by TimG

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Is it a constitutional requirement that's written, or is it convention?

The regional balance always excluded Newfoundland.

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For context - 1/3 of all higher court judges are bilingual. 1/2 of Alberta high court judges are bilingual. 1/3 of cases before the SCOC are conducted completely in French.

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Is it a constitutional requirement that's written, or is it convention?

I guess it is a convention but it is long established one. Think of the hell storm that would erupt and a PM decided to ignore convention and appoint a non-Quebec justice to the 3 seats reserved for Quebec. IOW, it is not something that can be violated because the PM feels like it.

The regional balance always excluded Newfoundland.

I doubt many people would complain if Newfoundland shared the seat like Alberta, Sask and Manitoba share a seat. People are complaining about the obsession with bilingual judges in a country were most people are not bilingual and those that are mostly share a common background. Edited by TimG

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It's a bilingual country... it's not difficult to learn French... or English...

It's a forced bilingual country. Nobody ever asked for Bilingualism or multiculturalism. The only ones that have done well because of forced bilingualism is the francophones. Our fearless leaders decided that making Canada bilingual will help to keep Quebec from wanting to separate. Well, that didn't work so well for the rest of Canada by going bilingual now did it?

Now we have a province called Quebec that has declared itself unilingual french. They have told the rest of Canada that they don't want to have anything to do with Anglophones or their English language. What a joke this country has become. Ottawa has sold the Anglophones of Canada down the tubes with a pile of foolish french nonsense where quebec and the rest of the world will benefit and are of more importance. While the Anglophones sit back and drink beer, party and go shopping they are fast losing and becoming a minority in their country. And if one tries to explain this to Anglophones they just look at you stunned and shrug their shoulders.

The U.S. would have more of a claim to be a bilingual country than we do. Just throwing that out there.

But as I said with the Senate appointments, and some will disagree, but I doubt this system will hold under a future Conservative government.

Best to ask the American people first whether they want to become bilingual or not. I will bet that if a referendum were held, the proposal to make America bilingual would be defeated. Imagine the costs of trying to make America bilingual? It would be horrendous. Hopefully, they don't try to go down that road. They will regret it.

Edited by taxme

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Reference:

Appointment of Justices[edit]

Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada are appointed by the Governor General-in-Council, a process whereby the governor general, the viceregal representative of the Queen of Canada, makes appointments based on the advice of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. By tradition and convention, only the Cabinet, a standing committee in the larger council, advises the governor general and this advice is usually expressed exclusively through a consultation with the prime minister. Thus, the provinces and parliament have no formal role in such appointments, sometimes a point of contention.

As of August, 2016 Justin Trudeau opened the process of application to change from the above noted appointment process. The new revised process "will permit any Canadian lawyer or judge who fits a specified criteria can apply for a seat on the Supreme Court, through the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs."[12]

The Supreme Court Act limits eligibility for appointment to persons who have been judges of a superior court, or members of the bar for ten or more years. Members of the bar or superior judiciary of Quebec, by law, must hold three of the nine positions on the Supreme Court of Canada.[13] This is justified on the basis that Quebec uses civil law, rather than common law, as in the rest of the country. The 3 out of 9 proportion persists despite the fact that only 24 percent of Canada's population resides in Quebec. As explained in the Court's reasons in Reference re Supreme Court Act, ss. 5 and 6, sitting judges of the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal cannot be appointed to any of Quebec's three seats. By convention, the remaining six positions are divided in the following manner: three from Ontario; two from the western provinces, typically one from British Columbia and one from the prairie provinces, which rotate amongst themselves (although Alberta is known to cause skips in the rotation); and one from the Atlantic provinces, almost always from Nova Scotia or New Brunswick.

A Supreme Court Justice, as with all federal judges, may sit on the bench until the age of 75 years, at which age retirement is mandatory.

In 2006, an interview phase by an ad hoc committee of members of parliament was added. Justice Marshall Rothstein became the first justice to undergo the new process. The prime minister still has the final say on who becomes the candidate that is recommended to the governor general for appointment to the court. The government proposed an interview phase again in 2008, but a general election and minority parliament intervened with delays such that the Prime Minister recommended Justice Cromwell after consulting the Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Court_of_Canada#Appointment_of_Justices

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This new plan to force SCOC jurists to be bilingual will dramatically reduce the pool of candidates. If you look at the recent history of Supreme Court justices, many very good ones were unilingual when they came to the court, and very few every became bilingual enough to work without translation. This change will basically drive out every lawyer that didn't grow up in Quebec, the Ottawa Valley or Acadia. Bilingualism is a NICE TO HAVE, not a necessity on the SCOC. Competence is the number one priority (regardless of region, language, gender or ethnic background).

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This new plan to force SCOC jurists to be bilingual will dramatically reduce the pool of candidates. If you look at the recent history of Supreme Court justices, many very good ones were unilingual when they came to the court, and very few every became bilingual enough to work without translation.

They've been using the term functionally bilingual - not fluently.

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It is according to the Charter, according to the rest of the Constitution and according to federal law.

The Charter says nothing of the sort. It says Canada has two official languages.

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For context - 1/3 of all higher court judges are bilingual. 1/2 of Alberta high court judges are bilingual. 1/3 of cases before the SCOC are conducted completely in French.

I think you will find that unless a judge is perfectly fluent, and very few people are, they will listen to and read the appeal through the aid of translators anyway.

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They've been using the term functionally bilingual - not fluently.

That's less than useless in dealing with complicated legal jargon and arguments. I would far rather have a judge listening through expert translators than listening himself and trying to figure out what tense the sentence is being spoken in, and mistaking phrases and words, or struggling so hard to figure them out he or she misses relevant points of the argument. There is a reason why lower level federal employees need to have a lower level of bilingualism than higher level ones. To be a high level manager or executive you need to be fluent, not functional. You need to be able to articulate and understand complicated concepts related to budgeting, resource management, business, and the specific nature of your particular department, and need to be able to do it fairly smoothly and easily.

Edited by Argus

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Just about the only people who are really fluently bilingual in Canada are Francophones who grow up outside Quebec and Anglophones who grow up within it. Or those who have both a French and English parent.

Anglophones have a general problem with learning other languages because they can get by without another language. It's basically laziness. Many Northern Europeans are tri-lingual and their English is prefect. Even I can tell that the French of most Anglophone politicians in Canada is awful, far worse than the English of Francophone pols. What were they doing in school?

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Anglophones have a general problem with learning other languages because they can get by without another language. It's basically laziness. Many Northern Europeans are tri-lingual and their English is prefect. Even I can tell that the French of most Anglophone politicians in Canada is awful, far worse than the English of Francophone pols. What were they doing in school?

I can't speak to Europe, although clearly when you have millions or tens of millions of people living a few hours away from your home it provides more of an inclination to learn their language. But the reason why so many people know English reasonably well, including the French, is because of the overwhelming nature of the English culture, primarily from the United States. Everyone wants to learn English because the world's big movie stars are English, and all the big movies are English, and the most popular TV shows and magazines and books and everything else is English, not to mention all those manuals from so many trade publications. The internet was and still is mainly English. There is a tidal wave of stuff out there in English, which is why so many people learn it enthusiastically while young and make constant use of it.

French, not so much.

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