Reforms to the Superior Courts Judicial Appointments Process

News Release

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the process for appointing judges to superior courts is transparent and accountable to Canadians, and promotes greater diversity on the bench.

To deliver on this commitment, the Government will immediately implement measures aimed at strengthening the role of Judicial Advisory Committees (JACs) in the judicial appointments process and making the process more transparent and accountable.

Increasing the effectiveness and independence of Judicial Advisory Committees

JACs play a fundamental role by assessing applicants for judicial office against published assessment criteria. There is at least one committee in each province and territory. The following measures will be taken to increase the effectiveness and independence of the JACs:

  • Reintroduce the “highly recommended” category to enable JACs to highlight truly outstanding candidates;
  • Rebalance the size and composition of provincial and territorial JACs (i.e., membership will no longer include a representative of the law enforcement community); and
  • Recognize the importance of judicial input by restoring voting rights to judicial members of JACs.

Improving public confidence in JACs

In order to ensure that JACs have the public confidence necessary to carry out their important task, current committees will be disbanded, and membership will be reconstituted through a standardized process. To this end:

  • Entities responsible for nominating individuals to serve as members of JACs will be asked to take into account the need to ensure that JACs are representative of the diversity of Canada;
  • All members will be provided with training on diversity, unconscious bias, and assessment of merit; and
  • Members who are representatives of the general public will be selected through an open application process that will seek to ensure JACs are representative of the diversity of Canada (hyperlink to backgrounder on JACs).

Increasing transparency and rigour

To increase transparency and rigour in the appointments process, the following measures will be taken:

  • The Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs (CFJA) will collect and publish statistical information on judicial applicants and appointees;
  • For those applicants who self-identify as having bilingual capacity, the CFJA, if deemed necessary, will develop a means of objectively assessing their second language capacity; and
  • All applicants, including those who are sitting judges from provincial and territorial courts, must apply and be assessed based on the same rigorous and detailed Questionnaire.

Promoting Diversity

To promote diversity, the new JACs will be mandated with identifying outstanding jurists from a wide range of backgrounds and practice areas, with a view to having a judiciary that reflects the diversity of Canadian society. JACs will be supported in this task by the diversity-related training provided to members noted above. The collection and publication of statistical data on judicial applicants and appointees will provide transparency and enhance accountability with respect to progress towards a more diverse bench.

Current and New Applicants for judicial office

Individuals interested in applying for federal judicial appointment, including those who may have applied and been assessed under the previous process, are invited to submit a Questionnaire and any necessary supporting documents. The Questionnaire and additional information are available on the CFJA website.

Additional information can be found on the CFJA website, as can more general information on the process to appoint superior court judges.


20 Octobre 2016
Department of Justice Canada

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