Roundup: A new justice named

Justice Sheilah L. Martin of the Courts of Appeal for Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, has been nominated as the next Supreme Court of Canada justice, slated to replace outgoing Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. Martin, who was born and educated in Quebec and is fluently bilingual and knowledgeable in both common law and Quebec’s civil code, and has been on the bench in the North as well as the west. She was once dean of a law school and has not only contributed to legal scholarship, but has also weighed in on some significant cases in her time on the bench, with pretty well-considered judgments. She is not, however, Indigenous, like many had been hoping. (For more on Martin, here is the link to her application questionnaire, and also follow the embedded Tonda McCharles tweet thread).

The issue of demanding bilingual judges is going to be an impediment for Indigenous candidates, for whom it creates an additional barrier, and when NDP leader Jagmeet Singh dared to suggest that perhaps they create an exception to that would-be rule for Indigenous nominees, he was forced by the rest of his party to walk back from that statement in favour of some platitudes about helping would-be Indigenous candidates with official language capacity instead. Note that NDP MP Romeo Saganash has come out against party policy to say that this demand for official-language bilingual judges hurts the cause of more Indigenous justices on the bench, but apparently that perspective is being silenced.

While some Indigenous lawyers are upset by the choice of a non-Indigenous jurist, I think we do need to recognize that the feeder pools with provincial Superior courts and the Courts of Appeal still have large diversity problems, which is why this government went about reforming the process to appoint those judges (and partially why it’s taking so long to fill those vacancies). When the trickle-down starts to happen there, it will mean a bigger pool of diverse candidates available in the future that may not be there right now. Of course, we won’t know the demographics of who applied to this round, so that does matter as well (and we won’t know for another month), so we may get more answers at that point.

Good reads:

  • Chrystia Freeland confirmed that we are planning to co-host a meeting about North Korea, likely here in Canada, but no details have been confirmed yet.
  • Jim Carr is looking for conflict resolution panels to be established to clear the conflicts delaying the Kinder Morgan pipeline construction.
  • Ralph Goodale put out this statement to clarify the figures and measures around foreign fighters returning to Canada.
  • Andrew Scheer has demanded that Bill Morneau resign and… *yawn* Great Cyllenian Hermes, this is boring. It’s such a rote, predictable move.
  • Some Conservative MPs are grousing that the apology to LGBT Canadians that faced government persecution went “too far.”
  • $175 million in money to help the working poor is going unclaimed because the tax forms to claim it are seen as too complicated.
  • CBSA says those “values” questions asked by the RCMP to Muslims crossing at irregular border posts won’t be used, and will be expunged from records.
  • Ralph Goodale told senators that the provisions in the pre-clearance bill would likely be rarely used by American border guards without Canadians present.
  • The government has quietly updated crisis plans to ensure that there are two bunkers on military bases set aside for government use in the event of catastrophe.
  • The former president of the Liberal Party’s BC-wing has been named to a port authority, which has opposition MPs grousing about the appointment process.
  • Extending the life of that Parliament Hill could cost another $2 million, so get out your cheap outrage sirens!
  • Andrew Coyne has high hopes for the proposed independent commission to set up leaders’ debates during general elections.
  • Colby Cosh looks at the new StatsCan data on commuting, and wonders why Canadians remain addicted to it.

Odds and ends:

One thought on “Roundup: A new justice named

  1. I cannot believe that English speaking CDN would accept a Justice who is unilingual French. So since both French and English are equal in Canada, Justices must be bilingual. The indigenous people if they are of the calibre of a Justice on any Court of Law can easily learn a second language. To treat them differently equals saying they are not smart enough to learn another Official Language.

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