Rentrée judiciaire – The Bar of Montreal -  Montreal Court House


Notes for an address by:

The Honourable David Lametti
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Montreal, QC

Septembre 5, 2019

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Thank you, Alexandre.

Chief Justice Duval Hesler, Chief Justice Fournier, Chief Judge Rondeau, Chief Justice Crampton, Minister Lebel, [others as appropriate], distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great privilege for me to be here today to help mark the opening of the courts.

Before I begin, I would first like to acknowledge that we are gathered on land that has long served as a meeting place amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudensosaunee [How-deno-show’-nee] and Anishinabeg [Anish-a-na-beg] nations.

As a lawyer, law professor, and as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I have the utmost respect for our courts and the important role they play in protecting our democracy.

Indeed justice systems are an essential pillar of any democracy.

And we are fortunate to have a system that works cohesively across provincial, territorial and federal levels of responsibility.

As someone who decided to study law in Montreal so that I could immerse myself in a bijural and bilingual environment, I take great pride in my Department’s efforts to contribute to improving access to justice in Quebec.

It goes without saying that So many different factors must work in concert to ensure access to justice is a reality for all Canadians. A strong justice system, supported by a solid legal framework and court system, is a central part of this work.

That is why the Government of Canada has worked so hard towards supporting and improving our legal framework.

Among our many initiatives aimed at supporting and modernizing the justice system, we worked with our partners to reduce court delays.

We reformed Canada’s laws on sexual assault and family law.

The overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system was top of mind for us and factored into nearly every piece of law reform that we tabled.

The success of these reforms and initiatives is largely dependent on an effective and efficient justice system. This includes well-functioning, independent courts and an engaged bar.

We are committed to ensuring that Canada’s laws and justice system effectively support Canadians, as well as the legal institutions and professionals who serve them.

Additionally, our official languages have a major impact on how we administer our legal system and our courts. It is therefore imperative that we provide equal access to justice in both official languages.

It is often noted that one of the greatest strengths of our court system is that each judge brings to the task his or her own unique expertise and perspective. They also have in common a profound dedication to the rule of law and to a justice system that is open and accessible to all.

I am glad to say that our reforms to how judges are appointed have created a process that is more transparent, inclusive and accountable to all Canadians.

At the Superior Court level, more than 300 judges have been appointed since November 2015, including 52 in Quebec.

These exceptional jurists represent the diversity that strengthens Canada and Quebec.

More than half of the judges we have appointed are women. Moreover, the appointments reflect an increased representation of visible minorities, Indigenous people, LGBTQ2S and those who self-identify as having a disability.

All of these appointments underline our Government’s commitment to help support a bench that better reflects Canada as it is today.

I am also proud of the fact that the Government has created and filled two new positions for the Quebec Court of Appeal, and six new Superior Court positions to address workload pressures.

I would also like to highlight the recent appointment of Justice Nicolas Kasirer to the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Kasirer, as you all know, is a prominent Quebec jurist who sat on the Quebec Court of Appeal at the time of his appointment. The appointment of Justice Kasirer was made pursuant to an agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec to ensure that greater collaboration and participation by Quebec in the appointment process leading to the appointment of the three judges from Quebec.

Finally, I would like to note that in April, I was pleased to meet with representatives of Éducaloi, a non-profit organization funded in part by the Department of Justice.

I was thrilled to learn that Éducaloi will be presented with the Medal of The Bar of Montreal later this afternoon, in recognition of its outstanding contribution to the cause of justice.

Éducaloi is helping Québec citizens understand their legal rights and responsibilities, while developing within them the skills needed to exercise those rights.

You should all be proud of your individual contributions, and those of the Quebec judicial system, in helping to ensure that Canada is a country that upholds the rule of law and guarantees fundamental rights through our Charter.

Together, we can continue to improve access to justice and support the institutions and people who contribute to this noble goal.

I wish you all the best in the year ahead and thank you for all of your work, which allows Quebec’s courts to operate so effectively and justly.

Thank you.

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