MPs Irwin Cotler, Liberal Critic for Rights and Freedoms and International Justice, and Sean Casey, Liberal Justice Critic, today issued the following statement:
“Canada’s judiciary should be made up of highly qualified people who reflect our country in all its diversity. It is therefore unacceptable that, according to the government, statistics about the diversity of judicial appointments are ‘not readily available.’
As has been pointed out by the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, the South Asian Bar Association and others, Canadians are more likely to have confidence in our legal system if judges share our variety of experiences and backgrounds.
Moreover, in the words of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, judges ‘arrive at the bench shaped by their experiences and by the perspectives of the communities from which they come.’ A broader range of judicial perspectives can only enhance the quality of court decisions.
Regrettably, a 2012 investigation by the Globe and Mail found that just two of 100 new judges named by the federal government were visible minorities, and a study presented last year by a University of Ottawa professor found that all but one of the previous 94 appointees were white.
While merit and judicial excellence must clearly be prerequisites when making appointments to the bench, there is no shortage of meritorious candidates from minority communities. In fact, as a whole, the judiciary can only be truly excellent if it reflects the society it is entrusted to judge.”