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Trudeau's changes to the supreme court


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I don't think a requirement to speak french makes all that much sense. It will take decades before all the judges are bilingual (thats supposing the liberals stay in power and keep the policy), so the bench is going to need an interpreter anyways for cases where french is being used... or spanish, arabic, german, etc etc.

I DO think its a good thing to have bilingual people on the bench... and if I had two totally equal candidates and one could speak a bunch of other language I might use that as the tie-breaker. But a requirement? No.

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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.

There is a downside to that for other Anglophone countries. Their own cultural products struggle to be seen even at home as their markets are flooded with US material. On Bell TV, we don't even get the world edition of CNN news but are given the US version. For the 'younger people' there is a means of escape from this on the Net if they would only choose to use it.

Monolingualism isn't as limiting as it used to be but people like myself stuck with one language do tend to see the world from one angle. It was one of Christopher Hitchens' regrets and David Cameron's too. Even the news in French looks like it is covering a different planet sometimes.

Edited by SpankyMcFarland
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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 "new, revised process " has htree crieteria, and all three must be met for appliciations to be even be considered. Anybody at all famialiar knows that this preliminary part of the hiring process is critical, you must address all three in the application or it must get tossed. Trudeau ahs been very clear on this:

1. Must be bilingual. New requirement. In the federal service, that would at this level mean fluency at at least the 'C" level, which means complete fluency in both. There is also an exempt level, for those that are perfect in both langauges. This requirement would mean most of the existing Supreme Court judges would not be able to apply.

2. Must represent the 'diversity' of Canadian society. New requirement. White men are not part of the diversity, so five of the nine current SC judges would not qualify for their own jobs. The four women would qualify under a Trudeau definition.

3. Must have excellent proven competence as a jurist. Old and formerly the only qualifier. All nine current SC judges would qualify.

Note that the important thing about these 3 qualifications is that applicants MUST demonstrate all three criteria to be considered beyond the first application. The federal screening process is transparent, any application that does not meet all three on initial screening- tossed out.

Translation: no white men, period, no matter what they have accomplished as jurists. They do not and cannot qualify for consideration because they are not 'diverse'. Yes, some of can pretend that white men are part of Trudeaus 'diversity', but we also know that is simply mealymouthed bullshit. We live in a strange f***ing world now.

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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.

It is true that English language (American, of course) movies, music, TV have influenced the predominant position of the English language in the world.

This summer I spoke to two business people, one in Belgium and one in France, who independently said " English is the global language". Neither of them were prompted, but simply stating reality. And the reason is that business needs a common tongue, other than the obvious one of money. And though it was in doubt 30 years ago, there is no question that English is now the language of commerce, trade and travel everywhere.

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I think you're right Dre - the bench should have to be partly bilingual, but the symbolism in this case gets in the way of practicality.

To be honest I dont even think direct legal knowledge should be a requirement. No lawyer or judge knows the millions of statutes, and english common law that our system is based on. They all have to research caselaw for each decision.

I just want calm rational people with good common sense. Good JUDGEMENT, and people that are as un-political as possible.

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It seems to me that Argus' logic goes like this:

If a judge is bilingual then there must be more competent unilingual judges somewhere. Therefore to be bilingual is in fact to have less merit.

It seems to me that logic is not your strong point. I've already explained the logic. I don't think I can make it more obvious.

Edited by Argus
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...and like this:

Of 10 applicants for a position one is hired. What are the odds that I have hired the most meritorious? 1/10.

In all likelihood, the most meritorious was not hired.

Presuming you're an idiot and didn't check out the background of the applicants, read their written judicial decisions, speak to them, examine their CV, discuss them with present and former colleagues, and generally review their body of work.

With that as the presumption, then yes, you probably only have a 1/10 chance of hiring the best applicant.

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Must be bilingual. New requirement. In the federal service, that would at this level mean fluency at at least the 'C" level, which means complete fluency in both. There is also an exempt level, for those that are perfect in both langauges. This requirement would mean most of the existing Supreme Court judges would not be able to apply.

I know a couple of people with C and E levels. And neither feels themselves qualified to translate material, especially into French, which is an extremely demanding and precise language.

Remember that much of what the SC examines is written material.

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To be honest I dont even think direct legal knowledge should be a requirement. No lawyer or judge knows the millions of statutes, and english common law that our system is based on. They all have to research caselaw for each decision.

You can look up on the internet how to take out your appendix, too. I think I'd prefer a doctor doing it.

The years of legal training and experience are what allows judges/lawyers to examine precedents and statutes and understand them and apply them. You can't take any old idiot and have him read a law book and think he's going to have much of a clue about what he's reading. And you sure can't expect him or her to be able to articulate the reasons for their findings in the kind of precise language which doesn't screw up a dozen different, existing laws.

Edited by Argus
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You can look up on the internet how to take out your appendix, too. I think I'd prefer a doctor doing it.

The years of legal training and experience are what allows judges/lawyers to examine precedents and statutes and understand them and apply them. You can't take any old idiot and have him read a law book and think he's going to have much of a clue about what he's reading. And you sure can't expect him or her to be able to articulate the reasons for their findings in the kind of precise language which doesn't screw up a dozen different, existing laws.

I never said an "any old idiot", I said people with good common sense and good judgement.

Iv been hiring developers and IT staff now for over a decade and qualifications are not what they are cracked up to be. I have developers that taught themselves at home in the evening that are better than other ones with degrees in com-sci.

I try to focus on finding people with good common sense and even temperment, and people that are natural problem solvers and can think on their feet. You CANNOT learn this at any school. You are born with it or you aren't.

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Presuming you're an idiot and didn't check out the background of the applicants, read their written judicial decisions, speak to them, examine their CV, discuss them with present and former colleagues, and generally review their body of work.

With that as the presumption, then yes, you probably only have a 1/10 chance of hiring the best applicant.

So it is quite conceivable, then, that someone could be bilingual and a fine jurist? Its possible that your concept of 'probabilities' means squat in the face of " background of the applicants, read their written judicial decisions, speak to them, examine their CV, discuss them with present and former colleagues, and generally review their body of work." ?

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I never said an "any old idiot", I said people with good common sense and good judgement.

I don't care how much common sense they have. You can't possibly think that someone who isn't an experienced lawyer could do the job of a judge, never mind a Supreme Court judge.

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So it is quite conceivable, then, that someone could be bilingual and a fine jurist? Its possible that your concept of 'probabilities' means squat in the face of " background of the applicants, read their written judicial decisions, speak to them, examine their CV, discuss them with present and former colleagues, and generally review their body of work." ?

Obviously its possible. But given only about 2% of the population is fluently bilingual you have a 98% probability that whoever is chosen on that basis is an inferior judge in terms of legal knowledge and acumen.

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It's so very hard to imagine someone with as much education as a judge and as much experience as to be eligible for the SCC would have taken the time to learn a second language. The ones who didn't MUST be more qualified. /s

Edited by cybercoma
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Obviously its possible. But given only about 2% of the population is fluently bilingual you have a 98% probability that whoever is chosen on that basis is an inferior judge in terms of legal knowledge and acumen.

No that's wrong. You need a basic course on math and statistics.

Lets say you were building a hockey team, and your scouts rated the player to be duds, stars, or super stars. Until the size of the pool you have to select from reaches 25 obviously your changes of building a team of 25 stars and superstars is zero. But once the pool size increases to the point where there IS 25 star and super star players the chances of you building a team of stars and superstars increases very quickly but then as the pool size keeps grows it stars to level off, and doubling the size of your pool will not double your chances of building that team. The more the pool size grows the less your chances will increase.

So your statement is just totally untrue. If legal acumen was rated between 1 and 10, and your wanted at least a 9 for your bench appointments, then as long as the pool is large enough to find 9 judges rated 9 or higher you can build 9+ rated court.

So if there was 1000 uni lingual prospects and 100 bilingual prospects your chances would not be 10 times as high of building your 9+ rated court. They would only be a little bit higher.

You could build an extremely talented and competent court out of bilingual applicants.

If you made a graph with the X axis as the selection pool size, and the Y Axis as the chance of building a court of judges rated 9 or higher, the line on it would look like this.

fig1.png

Having said that, I still don't support that requirement, and I wonder if its even constitutional itself.

Edited by dre
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No that's wrong. You need a basic course on math and statistics.

Had them, thanks. Try one on logic.

There are some 90,000 practicing lawyers in Canada. Any one of them is, according to the Canadian Bar association "competent" to be a judge. Given the importance of the Supreme Court we want better than competent. We want, as you say, superstars. How many superstars are among those 90,000? Let's take the top 1%. That still leaves us with 900 people to choose from - if excellence in law were are primary motivating criteria - as it is in hockey.

But it's not. Bilingualism will be used to screen all applicants. So instead of 900 superstars you start with a pool of about 2000 fluently bilingual lawyers of varying legal ability, 95% of whom are from Quebec or eastern Ontario. Now since inclusion on this semi final list has nothing to do with superstar status, you screen them on legal merit, and the top 1% leaves you with just 20 'superstars' (that term being lowered by screening out so many others on other than legal merit) to choose from. But wait - more than half don't want to be judges. They're doing nicely in the private sector. So you're left with a handful to choose from and odds are they're all Quebecers or at least Francophones. Unacceptable. Especially since we need to work in blacks, natives, asians, muslims lesbians, disabled and of course, women.

So I would suggest to you the true screening will be

1. Bilingual lawyers/judges who want the job

2. diversity score

3. the best legal minds who pass 1 and 2.

I doubt it would be hard to find better legal minds from the pool of 90,000 than from the tiny pool which meets those first two criteria, especially if you don't want them all to be from Quebec or Eastern Ontario. How would the country react to nine Francophone Supreme Court judges, I wonder, even if one was born in Haiti, and one was a lesbian, and one was disabled, and one was Arab?

Edited by Argus
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It's worse than that - 1% of 90,000 is only 900, not 9,000.

Doh! You're right, of course! I will adjust.

Edited by Argus
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It's worse than that - 1% of 90,000 is only 900, not 9,000.

Odds are you could build an extremely talented and competent court from that pool.

But again... I don't think the requirement is good idea either, in fact I don't even think it should be LEGAL to exclude candidates that only speak english for that one reason.

I was just challenging this objectively incorrect statement "you have a 98% probability that whoever is chosen on that basis is an inferior judge in terms of legal knowledge and acumen".

I already explained why but you could also read some basic online literature about statistics and pool/sample size, and the chances of obtaining a given attribute from a certain size pool. The relationship between the two is not linear.

Interesting enough, when this requirement is challenged in the courts (and it will be because the people being excluded are all freaking lawyers) an almost completely English speaking bench will make the final decision.

I think the whole thing is stupid. If Mr Trudeau wants language diversity in the courts, then he should appoint bilingual judges during his term, which he can already do. Everyone knows that once the Conservatives get back in they will toss the liberal selection process anyways and appoint the judges that they want. This is all a waste of time by Mr Trudeau.

Edited by dre
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Odds are you could build an extremely talented and competent court from that pool.

A no. Not without diluting the definition of 'talented' to be point of meaninglessness. Also what people seem to ignore is the bilingualism requirement greatly reduces the 'diversity' of the pool because the vast majority of the candidate will be francophones from Quebec. It is unacceptable to vast majority of Canadians to have a SCC consisting only of francophones from Quebec so the actual pool of qualified bilingual non-Quebec francophones will be tiny.
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