The Honourable Jasvinder S. (Bill) Basran’s Questionnaire

Backgrounder

Under the new judicial application process introduced by the Minister of Justice on October 20, 2016, any interested and qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for federal judicial appointment by completing a questionnaire. The questionnaires are then used by the Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada to review candidates and submit a list of “highly recommended” and “recommended” candidates for consideration by the Minister of Justice. Candidates are advised that parts of their questionnaire may be made available to the public, with their consent, should they be appointed to the bench. The information is published as it was submitted by the candidates at the time they applied, subject to editing where necessary for privacy reasons.

Below are Parts 5, 6, 7, and 11 of the questionnaire completed by the Honourable Jasvinder S. (Bill) Basran.

Questionnaire for Judicial Appointment

[...]

Part 5 – Language

Please note that in addition to the answers to the questions set out below, you may be assessed as to your level of language proficiency.

Without further training, are you able to read and understand court materials in:

  • English: Yes
  • French: No

Without further training, are you able to discuss legal matters with your colleagues in: 

  • English: Yes
  • French: No

Without further training, are you able to converse with counsel in court in: 

  • English: Yes
  • French: No

Without further training, are you able to understand oral submission in court in: 

  • English: Yes
  • French: No

Part 6 – Education

Name of Institutions, Years Attended, Degree/Diploma and Year Obtained:

  • University of Saskatchewan, College of Law, 1991-1994, LL.B (1994)
  • University of Saskatchewan, College of Commerce, 1984-1989, B. Comm (1989) - double major in Finance and Marketing

Continuing Education:

Completed a broad range of Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia  (CLESBC) and internal Department of Justice (DOJ) courses on tax, administrative, constitutional, and aboriginal law, ethics, as well as civil litigation procedure and skills.

Honours and Awards:

  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal - Awarded for the creation of the Department of Justice Pro Bono Program
  • Senator J. Hnatyshyn Academic Achievement Award, University of Saskatchewan, College of Law
  • University of Saskatchewan Law Review 1992-1993 - selection based on academic achievement

Part 7 – Professional and Employment History

Please include a chronology of work experience, starting with the most recent and showing employers’ names and dates of employment. For legal work, indicate areas of work or specialization with years and, if applicable, indicate if they have changed.

Legal Work Experience:

  • 2007-Present
    Regional Director General and Senior General Counsel, British Columbia Regional Office, Department of Justice - Aboriginal, Tax, Administrative, Constitutional, Crown, Extradition/International Assistance, Immigration, and a broad range of public law civil litigation
  • 2004-2007
    Director and General Counsel, Tax Law Section, British Columbia Regional Office, Department of Justice - Tax Law
  • 2002-2004
    Team Leader and Senior Counsel, Tax Law Section, British Columbia Regional Office, Department of Justice - Tax Law
  • 1995-2002
    Counsel, Tax Law Section, British Columbia Regional Office, Department of Justice - Tax Law
  • 1994- 1995 Articled Student, Campney and Murphy, Vancouver, BC
  • 1993 Summer Student, Campney and Murphy, Vancouver, BC

Non-Legal Work Experience:

  • 1989-1991 Assistant Manager, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto, ON

Other Professional Experience:

List all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees of which you are or have been a member, and give the titles and dates of any offices which you have held in such groups.

  • 2014-Present - Director, Access Pro Bono Society of British Columbia
  • 2016-Present - Regional Director General, National Litigation Sector Board of Directors, Department of Justice
  • 2007-2016 - Regional Director General, Executive Committee, Department of Justice
  • 2008-Present - National Pro Bono Champion, Department of Justice
  • 2009-Present - National Champion for Visible Minorities, Department of Justice
  • 2009-Present - Member of the Employment Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Steering Committee, Department of Justice
  • 2008-2012 - Co-chaired, launched, and implemented the DOJ National Mentoring Program

Pro Bono Activities:

I created and launched the first national Department of Justice Pro Bono Program. This included the drafting and development of a pilot Pro Bono Policy and implementation of three DOJ pro bono pilot projects, in three different jurisdictions (British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario) involving three different areas of law. The success of these pilot programs led to the Department's adoption of a permanent national DOJ Pro Bono Policy, which I helped draft. I successfully led efforts to remove longstanding barriers in order to enable DOJ lawyers to perform pro bono work. There are currently eight DOJ pro bono clinics in six different cities that I helped establish. I was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for this work. I have volunteered periodically at the DOJ Wills Clinic since it opened in March 2012. In 2014, I joined the Board of Directors of Access Pro Bono Society of British Columbia and I am a member of two of its sub-committees. I have been a panelist and made presentations to the biennial National Pro Bono Conference in 2012, 2014, and 2016 on public sector Pro Bono.

Teaching and Continuing Education:

List all legal or judicial educational organizations and activities you have been involved with (e.g. teaching course at a law faculty, bar association, National Judicial Institute, or the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice).

  • Speaker and Panelist - Biennial National Pro Bono Conference - 2012, 2014, and 2016
  • Current Cases Panelist - Canadian Tax Foundation Conference - September 25-27, 2005
  • Course Co-Chair - Charter Conference - Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia - May 30-31, 2002

Community and Civic Activities:

List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.

[...]

  • 2014-Present - Director, Access Pro Bono British Columbia
  • 2012-Present - Access Pro Bono Volunteer lawyer, Wills Clinic, Vancouver BC
  • 2005-2015 - Little League Baseball Coach, Cypress Park Little League, West Vancouver, BC
  • 2006-2014 - Director and Ombudsman, Cypress Park Little League
  • 2006-2009 - Basketball Coach, Steve Nash Youth Basketball League, West Vancouver, BC
  • 2006-2008 - Soccer Coach, West Vancouver Soccer Club, West Vancouver, BC
  • 2002-2004 - Little League Baseball Coach, Little Mountain Baseball, Vancouver, BC

Part 11 – The Role of the Judiciary in Canada’s Legal System

The Government of Canada seeks to appoint judges with a deep understanding of the judicial role in Canada. In order to provide a more complete basis for evaluation, candidates are asked to offer their insight into broader issues concerning the judiciary and Canada’s legal system. For each of the following questions, please provide answers of between 750 and 1000 words.


1. What would you regard as your most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada?

I will answer this question in two parts because I believe my most significant contribution to the law is different from my most significant contribution to the pursuit of justice. The former relates to my legal work as a senior DOJ official, the latter is outside of my day to day responsibilities at the DOJ.

My most significant contribution to the law is my input into the development of legal positions taken by the Government of Canada on a range of significant public law issues litigated in BC. As the head of the Department of Justice in BC, I have both the responsibility and privilege of leading discussions, providing advice, and making decisions on the legal positions taken on significant Justice files in BC. This province generates a significant number of nationally important, precedent setting cases, particularly in the areas of Aboriginal Law and Charter challenges to federal legislation.

I strive to ensure that we take a principled, ethical, and pragmatic approach on our files by grounding our legal advice, and positions, on the importance of the rule of law and the public good. My role requires me to give fearless yet pragmatic advice, explain the relevant legal options and risks, and then take instructions from democratically elected leaders. At times over the past decade, this has been challenging when the positions we were asked to take were not consistent with the advice we had provided. My role in those instances was to ensure that our litigators understood the imperative of taking positions based on whole of government interests, as articulated by our elected leaders, while conveying to ministers, and other senior officials, the risks inherent in not following our best advice. I have been at the crossroads of these dialogues on many significant files.

I have created an atmosphere in which ideas and positions are debated openly and vigorously in order to enable us to make the best possible decisions with respect to the legal issues we face. One of the central failings of poor decision making is the tendency to avoid difficult conversations out of either a misplaced sense of decorum or career self-interest. Doing so inhibits the discussion on the best available information and ideas that are required to make the most important decisions. I identified this issue early in my career as the head of the DOJ in BC and took steps to address it. Throughout my tenure, I have created and supported structures and mechanisms that encourage the vibrant, thorough yet respectful exchange of differing views on important issues. I am proud to lead one of the most productive, well respected, and effective offices of the Department of Justice. Creating this environment has helped me provide the best possible advice on the wide range of public law issues litigated in BC.

My most significant contribution to the pursuit of justice in Canada has been unleashing the power of Department of Justice lawyers to do pro bono work. Lack of access to justice for large segments of the population is one of the most pervasive and significant challenges to the pursuit of justice in Canada. Justice cannot be pursued if it cannot be accessed. Pro bono programs are one of the critical pathways by which those living with limited means can access the legal system.

Throughout the history of the Department of Justice, there was an implicit and later explicit policy that prohibited DOJ lawyers from providing pro bono services in addition to their work as Justice lawyers. I was instrumental in changing that. In 2012, I led the creation and launch of the first national Department of Justice Pro Bono Program which involved three pilot programs in three different jurisdictions, each delivering a different type of legal service (wills drafting, landlord tenant disputes, and small claims legal advice). Justice lawyers volunteered to provide pro bono services at these clinics and the success of this pilot program led to the Department’s adoption of a permanent DOJ Pro Bono Policy that permits Justice lawyers across the country to deliver pro bono services. There are currently eight DOJ pro bono clinics in six different cities that to date have helped over one thousand Canadians access justice.

I volunteer periodically at the DOJ Wills Clinic in Vancouver and speak about pro bono, both within the Department of Justice and externally, to promote the value and importance of pro bono work. I strongly believe that it is both a professional obligation, and a privilege, to be able to provide legal services to members of our community who can't otherwise afford to pursue justice.


2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?

I have seen and experienced the variety and diversity of this country, and its citizens, from several different perspectives: First, as a child, born and raised in Saskatoon; Next, as a teenager living abroad for a year and then returning to Saskatoon for high school and university; Throughout my early 20s, living and working in Toronto and then finally as a married lawyer starting his career, and family, in Vancouver. I have also gained insight into Canadians and their perspectives as a traveler, who has visited all but one province and one territory in Canada and, from afar, while visiting approximately 30 other countries, including, importantly, India, the country of my ancestry. As I will outline below, these experiences have provided me with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives.

As a youngster, I often didn't feel as Canadian as I wanted to. Growing up in Saskatoon during the 1970s was both idyllic and disconcerting. Idyllic because it was a carefree childhood with plenty of other kids in our neighbourhood, impromptu games of shinny, organized hockey, and endless debates about our favourite teams and players. Disconcerting because my family and I were periodically, and sometimes aggressively, reminded that we were newcomers and foreigners. Racial taunts, invocations to “go home”, and the feeling of not belonging puzzled me. I was born in Saskatoon. It was the only home I had ever known.

On an extended visit to India when I was six years old, it became obvious to me that I was not Indian. I didn't speak the language (although I later learned enough to make myself understood), appreciate the nuances of the customs or traditions, or have a home there. We had plenty of loving relatives who embraced and welcomed us but it was understood that we were visitors, the relatives from Canada. Accordingly, as a child, I was not completely accepted, or comfortable, in the country of my birth and I was a foreigner in the country of my ancestry. I seemingly had a foot in both worlds with a commensurately unstable sense of belonging to neither.

I had a memorable opportunity to live and study abroad when I was in eighth grade. My father took a sabbatical and we lived in Stockholm, Sweden. During that year, my family and I traveled extensively throughout Europe including to the U.S.S.R and the U.K. In each of these countries, when asked where I was from, I said Canada. More often than not, the next question asked was where was I really from. I found this annoying. Why couldn't these people accept that I was Canadian? Why did I need to explain myself? I knew that I was being asked these questions because I am not white.

I resented this extra questioning but a chance encounter with a Swedish girl of Indian ancestry shifted my thinking. We met at a Diwali event in Stockholm. She spoke Punjabi and Swedish fluently but her English wasn't strong and my knowledge of Swedish was very basic. After fumbling through some broken English and Swedish, we realized that we had another language in common, Punjabi. The girl's parents were immigrants to Sweden and she had been born there. Her upbringing and experience was similar to mine. She was a Swede of Indian ancestry but if I had met her in Canada, I probably would have asked her where she was really from. My conception of Swedes was that they were all blonde haired and blue eyed. I realized that I had been far too binary in my thinking. I didn't have to be Canadian or Indian any more than this girl had to be either Swedish or Indian. I could be a Canadian, of Indian ancestry, who spoke English, Punjabi, some French and even some Swedish. I was a Western Canadian who bled green for the Riders, loved the Jays, and adored the Habs. I wasn't any one thing, I was a composite of all of these things, and more.

Canada, the country of my birth made this possible because it is largely a nation of immigrants. With the clear exception of our Indigenous Peoples, Canadians are simply immigrants with seniority. This discovery made me more secure and confident in my identity when I returned to Canada to attend high school and later university. It also strengthened my pride and identity in being Canadian. There were still challenges and taunts from time to time but I responded to them with a clear sense of belonging and an understanding that sometimes, questions are based on ignorance not malevolence. Either way, I knew who I was and that I belonged in Canada and am proud to be Canadian.

After completing my first degree at the University of Saskatchewan, I accepted a position with a major Canadian bank in Toronto. I craved the opportunity to live in a large and diverse city and I embraced all that it had to offer. After completing law school, I knew that I wanted to settle in a large urban center. My wife wanted to remain in the West, close to her family, so we decided to start our lives together, and careers, in Vancouver. With more than a century's history of immigration, vibrant and diverse communities, Vancouver was the right fit for my wife and I and the perfect place to start our family.

My career with the federal government has afforded me the opportunity to work and travel throughout BC and across Canada. I believe strongly in appreciating and understanding our country so, before we started traveling internationally with our children, we showed them every region of Canada. I have the privilege of having friends, colleagues, and family members from across this country. Spending time with them, knowing their realities and aspirations, combined with my own experiences from across Canada gives me an understanding and appreciation for the strength, diversity, and unique perspectives of Canadians from every part of our amazing country.


3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.

The appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy is multi-faceted and essential. A properly functioning democracy requires a free and independent judiciary that is able to make its decisions based on the facts that are established by evidence and applying them to the relevant law. Judges must strive to be as neutral and impartial as possible. Doing so requires an appreciation and acknowledgment that all judges bring their own individual life experiences and perspectives to their roles. They must recognize their own biases and tendencies and counter them, to the greatest extent possible, by keeping an open mind, humbly accepting the limitations of their own knowledge and experience, and remaining steadfastly curious and open to learning new things. Judges also must be brave and resolute in discharging their responsibilities to the best of their abilities notwithstanding whatever public reaction there may be to their decisions. Judges should never become isolated and withdrawn from public discourse but their decisions must be principled and unaffected by the vagaries of public opinions and sentiments.

Our constitutional democracy is about more than the simple rule of the majority. It is at least equally, if not more so, about rights, and the protection of them. The Canadian Constitution explicitly sets out these rights and it is an essential duty and obligation of the judiciary to protect these rights in order for our democracy to function effectively. This is especially the case when there is a conflict between legislation, that is supported by the majority, and the rights protected by the constitution. It is in these moments that it is the duty of an independent and courageous judiciary to protect constitutional rights notwithstanding the will of the majority. The judiciary functioning in this manner strengthens democracy and ensures adherence to core values and rights that are enshrined in our constitution.

On a range of issues of public importance, the courts engage in a dialogue with Parliament to ensure the constitutionality of legislation. Neither has the final word and each must respect the importance and necessity of the other. This iterative dialogue is informed by the imperative on the judiciary to interpret impugned legislation's constitutionality with regard to the well-established, and fundamentally Canadian, Living Tree Doctrine. This ensures that constitutional principles, and the application of them, evolve with changing societal norms and standards. This is one of the strengths and hallmarks of our constitutional democracy and it ensures that our laws keep pace with positive and progressive societal changes while remaining rooted in our essential constitutional rights and values.

Judges play an essential role in a well-functioning democracy because they are a check on the unbridled exercise of power by Parliament. In our form of parliamentary democracy, with its concentration of power in the office of the Prime Minister, infrequent free votes, and the Westminster tradition of government MPs steadfastly supporting proposed government legislation, the judiciary plays a vital role in ensuring that legislation is consistent with our Constitution. The judiciary applies constitutional principles, including Charter values, to prevent the tyranny of the majority. However, the judiciary must be careful not to overstep its role. The dialogue between the judiciary and Parliament is not one where either can lay claim to having the last word. Each must be respectful of the other's role and authority and operate within their own confines in order for our system of laws and government to function effectively.

The judiciary must not tread into the domain of Parliament by granting to itself, or even conceiving of itself as a body that has the power to create new laws and policy that go beyond its appropriate role. I don't believe we have a problem in Canada with “activist courts” and I think an objective review of the Supreme Court of Canada's decisions supports this view. There are undeniably some trial and appellate decisions that provoke debate on this issue but for the most part, Canadian courts have a fairly consistent and appropriate understanding of their role.

Judges must discharge their responsibilities with the highest standards of professionalism, rigour, diligence, timeliness, courtesy and civility. They must think deeply and critically about the evidence that is presented to them and be decisive about the application of the facts to their understanding and interpretation of the law. This is their day job but it does not end there. It is equally important that judges conduct themselves with the highest standards of ethics and civility in both their personal and professional lives. It is the duty of all judges to uphold and maintain respect for the institution of the judiciary. It is a privilege to serve as a judge and an obligation to bring honour to that office, and to the institution, by passing it forward to the next generation of jurists with the same dignity, respect and honour that this role requires of all judges on their first day on the bench.


4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?

There are several audiences for judicial decisions. The most obvious audience is the litigants involved in any particular case be they a prosecutor and an accused, private individuals, businesses, governments, or other organizations. The outcome of any particular case will usually have its most immediate impact on the parties to the litigation but they are certainly not the only audience for judicial decisions.

A hallmark of our judicial system is that it is open and transparent. This ensures that trials and appeals are accessible to the public and judicial proceedings, and the dispensation of justice, can be viewed by anyone. A conduit for this transparency is the media and on any given day, proceedings of Canadian courts are covered extensively by them. As a result, another audience for judicial decisions are the members of the public in court when decisions are delivered as well as the members of the media who cover and report on these proceedings. The rigour of public scrutiny helps ensure impartial and principled judicial decisions. Judicial proceedings and the resulting decisions that are open and accessible to the public, help maintain integrity and respect for the institution of the judiciary.

Beyond those in the courtroom and the media, another audience for judicial decisions is the general public. Depending upon the nature and impact of any particular issue before the courts, the public's interest in a judicial decision may be local, provincial, or national. Some of the most pressing and important legal, social, ethical, and moral issues of our time, that are of significant interest to the public, are litigated in our courts. An obvious example that has arisen three times during my career at the Department of Justice in B.C. is physician assisted dying (Rodriguez, Carter, and Lamb). These types of significant legal and social issues are debated and discussed widely, well beyond the audience that was in court to witness the proceedings. Accordingly, the general public is frequently an important audience for judicial decisions that affect or are of interest to them.

Criminal trials are frequently of particular interest to the public because crime threatens the safety and security of the public and its sense of well-being. There is a fair debate to be had about the quality and accuracy of the media's coverage of criminal trials but there is no doubt that the outcomes of prosecutions are of significant interest to the public. The effectiveness of the sentencing principles of denunciation and deterrence depend upon the public dissemination of information regarding criminal convictions and the resulting consequences.

Legislatures and parliament are important audiences for judicial decisions that are relevant to their policy choices and legislative agenda. A properly functioning democracy, with its separation of powers and distinct roles for parliament and the judiciary, depends upon an ongoing and evolving dialogue on issues of significant importance to the public. Parliamentarians are an important audience for judicial decisions because they are sometimes required to take legislative action in response to them.

Another audience will most certainly be other members of the judiciary. Depending on the level of court that makes a decision, some decisions may be binding on other judges and others may be persuasive. This audience of jurists is not restricted to provincial or national boundaries. The Canadian judicial system is widely respected internationally. Accordingly, Canadian judicial decisions may be persuasive in legal proceedings in other common law jurisdictions. For example, the decisions of Canadian courts on the principles of Charter interpretation, and Aboriginal rights and title, are frequently cited by courts in other countries.

Our very system of common law relies on judicial decisions for the growth and development of the law. Unknown future generations of judges, lawyers, academics, and other members of the public will read, debate, and build upon the judicial decisions of today.

Judicial decisions may most directly impact the parties to the litigation but they speak to a wide variety of audiences both domestically and internationally, now and in the future. An enduring challenge for judges is to be aware of these many audiences for their decisions but to ensure nevertheless that they make their decisions in a principled, impartial, and courageous manner without regard for how these decisions will be received by these audiences.


5. Please describe the personal qualities, professional skills and abilities, and life experience that you believe will equip you for the role of a judge.

I believe I have the necessary personal qualities and broad range of professional skills and abilities, combined with diverse life experiences, to be a fair, effective, and productive justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

My personal qualities include a commitment to public service, a strong work ethic, intellectual curiosity and decisiveness. Over the past 22 years, I have devoted my professional life to working on a range of important public law issues in a diverse range of areas such as administrative, aboriginal, tax, and constitutional law. This work has given me an opportunity to serve the public and make a meaningful contribution to issues of public importance. My desire to make a difference in our profession, particularly in regards to access to justice, was the reason I was determined to create opportunities for DOJ lawyers to deliver pro bono services.

Throughout my career, I have served as a mentor to numerous lawyers in my office and across the country. I was responsible for launching the DOJ's National Mentoring Program Department which is the most successful mentoring program in the Canadian public service. I have also served and contributed by volunteering extensively in my community. For almost 15 years, I coached a variety of soccer, basketball, and baseball teams and served as a volunteer Director and Officer for a community sports league. I am currently a director of Access Pro Bono British Columbia.

Throughout my academic and professional career, I have demonstrated a strong work ethic. I excelled academically in both my undergraduate studies as well as in law school where I was invited to be an editor of the Law Review and received the Senator J. Hnatyshyn Academic Achievement Award. Throughout my career at the Department of Justice, I have been promoted quickly to positions of increasing responsibility. In the first ten years of my career, I held five different positions, each with increasing challenges and complexities. In 2007, I was appointed Regional Director General and Senior General Counsel of the BC Regional Office. To my knowledge, I was the youngest person, and first visible minority, appointed to this level in the department's history. As the senior DOJ official in BC, I am responsible for all of the legal work conducted by the DOJ in BC. Although I was appointed to this position at a relatively young age, I am now among the most experienced senior executives in the DOJ and am often given responsibility for a range of national initiatives. I believe in accomplishment through hard work and persistence.

Throughout my career, I have been decisive. I have been involved in making important, significant, and often difficult, decisions on every major litigation file conducted by the DOJ in BC since 2007. In my role as the senior DOJ official in BC, I have made decisions on legal strategy on major class actions, public inquiries, and cases involving aboriginal, constitutional, tax, immigration, and public safety issues. I have also made significant personnel and financial decisions in the course of managing the largest law office in Western Canada. I have implemented a range of efficiency measures, some of which have been adopted nationally, to streamline the delivery of legal services and incorporate the increased use of technology in our practice.

In regards to my professional skills and abilities, I have significant experience in practicing law both as a litigator and as the senior DOJ official in British Columbia. As a litigator, I litigated over 250 tax cases at the trial and appellate level. Over the past nine years, in my role as the Regional Director General and Senior General Counsel, I have worked closely with litigation teams to develop legal positions on high profile cases such as the Polygamy Reference, Physician Assisted Dying litigation, the migrant boat arrivals as well as three major public inquiries: the Dziekanski Inquiry, the Cohen Commission Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, and the Missing Women Inquiry. More recently, I oversaw and contributed to the development of legal positions on some of the most significant aboriginal rights and title cases in Canada such as Roger William and CAP Daniels. I have also been involved in the Northern Gateway Pipeline and Taseko Mines litigation that involves the interplay between the approval of major energy projects and the interests of indigenous and environmental groups. I have worked with the litigation teams I appointed on a range of diverse constitutional challenges involving issues such as the medical marijuana regulations, administrative segregation in the correctional system, the collection and use of information by the Communications Security Establishment, and the exchange of taxpayer information with the United States.

I have very good written and oral communication skills. I believe in simple, direct, and concise writing that is accessible and comprehensible. Clear legal writing should illuminate the law and promote the understanding of how legal principles apply to complex facts. In all of the work I do, I strive to exercise good judgment I listen to opposing views, consult broadly, take the time to consider and weigh options and then confidently exercise my judgment on a wide range of legal and management issues. As the senior DOJ official in BC, I frequently make decisions on important issues. I enjoy this responsibility and consider it to be a privilege of the position I currently hold.

I have a diverse life experience and a broad understanding, appreciation, and affection for our country. I am the son of first generation immigrants from India who settled in Saskatoon, SK. I was born, raised, and educated in Saskatoon. After completing my undergraduate studies, I moved to Toronto to take a position with a major Canadian bank and was promoted to the position of Assistant Manager within one year. After completing my law degree, l moved to Vancouver in 1994 and articled with a private firm. I commenced my career at the Department of Justice in 1995 and have been the senior DOJ official in BC since 2007.

I have lived and worked in several parts of Canada and have had the privilege of visiting every region of our country. I have a deep respect for our shared values and institutions, including our democracy and the judiciary. Being the son of immigrants, and having had the opportunity to live in two other countries and visit approximately 30 others, I have a profound appreciation for the importance of the rule of law and the central role of the judiciary. I have unbridled and boundless optimism for the future of our country and I want to continue to serve it by exercising my skill and judgment as a justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.


6. Given the goal of ensuring that Canadians are able to look at the justices appointed to the bench and see their faces and life experience reflected there, you may, if you choose, provide information about yourself that you feel would assist in this objective.

I am the proud son of first generation Punjabi/Sikh immigrants from India and I am a visible minority. I was born in Canada, and am a proud and patriotic Canadian but I have experienced the pain of discrimination and bias. I have witnessed giant strides forward on these issues during my lifetime but I know there is more to be accomplished. I am married to an Anglo-Canadian woman from rural Saskatchewan and together, we have raised our two children in Vancouver. I see the world through the eyes of my wife for whom issues of race and identity were not part of her upbringing but became part of her reality when we became a couple. I have also witnessed the experiences of my two biracial children who are equally comfortable celebrating both Christmas Eve at an Anglican church and an Indian wedding at a Sikh Gurdwara. They love eating both the aloo paranthas and the potato pancakes made by their respective grandmothers and they are close to many relatives on both sides of our family. They straddle both cultures and do not have to choose between them. This is the Canada of today, not perfect, but getting better.

I am unfailingly optimistic about the future, but I know there is more work to do. I am determined to continue doing my part of that work. By succeeding in a senior position at the Department of Justice, helping to create a national mentoring program, establishing a DOJ pro bono program, and working closely with employment equity groups both within the DOJ, and across government, I have tried to be a role model, and mentor, for a broad range of colleagues including those who are visible minorities and/or members of other employment equity groups.

I believe the mentoring and coaching I have provided, and benefitted from, combined with my broad personal and work experience has prepared me well for a career on the bench. I support increasing the diversity of the bench, and other important institutions, while maintaining adherence to the principle of merit. I believe that the most effective way to increase diversity is to ensure that the pool of qualified candidates is as large as possible. Throughout my legal career, I have seen that the best decisions are made on complex issues when they take into account the wide range of backgrounds and experiences in Canadian society.

I have worked, and lived, in several different parts of this country and I have traveled to, and have friends and colleagues in every one of its regions. Doing meaningful work that contributes to Canada and all Canadians is extremely important to me because I am optimistic about the future of our country and I want to continue to serve and contribute to it. I believe I have the professional skills and experiences, and empathy, combined with a broad and diverse personal background that will serve me well as a justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

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