The government announced yesterday that they have begun the process for searching for the next Supreme Court of Canada justice, which it should be noted is almost record-breaking in how fast they got this particular process started, as normally it takes them six months to a year to get a process even started, by which time the vacancy has happened and terms need to be extended (which isn’t possible in this case). And while this is notable in and of itself, there was something else notable – that they are explicitly looking for a justice from either the West or the North.
Why this is important is because it seems to demonstrate that they learned their lesson from the previous SCC appointment process, when they toyed with finding a justice who was not from Atlantic Canada despite it being a traditionally Atlantic Canadian seat that was vacant, and there was some pretty big uproar which they tried to pooh-pooh with talking points about how some of those federalist notions were perhaps a bit archaic and they were trying to find a bilingual justice (which was difficult for that region, even more so if they were trying to find someone Indigenous or a person of colour). That will be less of a problem in the West, but the fact that they also mentioned the North is a bit curious.
As it stands, some territorial cases, particularly at the appeal level, are heard in courts in provinces like BC or sometimes Ontario, because there simply aren’t enough judges and infrastructure in place to do the job up North. And while it’s not necessary that one be a judge to get a Supreme Court nomination (they must be a member of the bar, but can come from private practice or even a law school), it is a bit peculiar that they have expanded their search in such a way. It is the first time that such a consideration has been made, which is no doubt part of this government’s constant attempts to pat themselves on the back, and their language about the “custom of regional representation” still sounds a bit like they’re making it out to be less of an important deal than it is, which is a problem because the principles of federalism are a pretty big deal given how this country works. I would say that it also raises the possibility of raising hackles in the West because it could open them up to accusations that they’re depriving the West of representation on the Court (the West typically has two seats, one of which is currently held by Justice Brown from Alberta, so no, Alberta has no room to raise a fuss), but one could imagine that BC would very well make an issue of it if they felt like it. Granted, if they do find someone from the North, it could provide some greater perspective on the Court – or it could simply be yet another reason for back-patting. We’ll find out in a few months’ time when the decision is made. (And for the record, the plan is to name the new Chief Justice after the vacancy is filled).
- At the governors’ conference where Justin Trudeau made a keynote address, VP Mike Pence said that they wanted to modernized NAFTA, not blow it up.
- Trudeau also said that he hasn’t reached out to Sgt. Speer’s widow on the Khadr settlement (as Stephen Harper has), and Andrew Scheer performs more outrage.
- Jody Wilson-Raybould released ten guidelines that will inform nation-to-nation Indigenous relationships and policy development.
- Indigenous leaders say they’re boycotting next week’s meeting with premiers, because they’re not considered equals in the Council of the Federation.
- Ralph Goodale, the PM and the head of CSIS are all vowing to get to the bottom of those allegations of racism, sexism and homophobia in the ranks of CSIS.
- Plans to use drones to patrol the Arctic will be delayed for up to two years because drones big enough to carry the right equipment trigger missile control treaties.
- Omar Khadr could be in for more years of litigation in order to safeguard his settlement from Americans looking to claim it.
- Stephanie Carvin reminds us that yes, Khadr was subjected to torture by any definition, despite naysayers insisting that that it was simply “inhumane.”
- Here is a realistic assessment of problems with the Access to Information regime, and some proposed solutions to deal with them beyond the current bill.
- Susan Delacourt looks at how higher education is becoming a partisan issue in the States, and how some of that rhetoric is creeping into Canada.
Odds and ends: