Backgrounder: Memoranda of Understanding between the Canadian Judicial Council and the Government of Canada
On April 28, 2022, the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of Canada and Chairperson of the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC), together with the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). Aimed at reinforcing judicial independence and clarifying roles and responsibilities, the MOUs help provide Canadians with access to an accountable justice system that responds to their needs.
MOU on Judicial Governance
This MOU recognizes that the principle of judicial independence includes the independence of the CJC in fulfilling its mandate to serve the public. It also advances transparency by setting out key provisions relating to funding requests and the essential role of the CJC in the appointment of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, who is responsible for supporting the CJC’s daily operations.
The MOU ensures the CJC is consulted in the selection of the Commissioner by setting out certain elements that will be carried out before and during the selection process, including:
- a selection committee that includes the Chair of the CJC or his or her designate;
- selection criteria developed by the committee, respecting the requirements for the position;
- use of a notice of opportunity and other selection tools approved by the selection committee;
- recommendation of qualified candidates to the Minister by the selection committee; and
- a commitment by the Minister not to recommend the appointment of candidates who, in the opinion of the CJC, are unsuitable to the position.
The MOU also ensures the CJC determines its incremental funding needs and works in consultation with the Office of the Commissioner to prepare the necessary submissions and that the Minister accepts to submit these, on behalf of the CJC, to the Minister of Finance, without alteration, for the latter’s consideration and ultimate determination.
It will further ensure the CJC continues to have the best tools to fulfill its mandate of promoting the efficiency, uniformity, and the improvement of judicial service in all superior courts in Canada.
MOU on Judicial Education
This MOU helps clarify roles and responsibilities in ensuring the professional excellence of the judiciary while respecting judicial independence and the separation of powers. It is designed to advance the interests of Canadians by recognizing how the CJC and the federal government should engage with one another on the subject of judicial education.
The MOU also affirms, in keeping with the requirements of judicial independence, that the education that judges receive following their appointment to the bench must be controlled by the judiciary itself, free from outside influence or interference. As such, the MOU recognizes that:
- the CJC is the appropriate national institution to determine the content of introductory and ongoing judicial education for superior court judges following their appointment to the bench;
- the CJC is the appropriate national institution to administer this judicial education through judge-led agencies and/or other judge-approved organizations;
- the CJC is transparent and accountable to Canadians in sharing information about the continuing education received by judges; and
- the Minister of Justice will consult proactively with the CJC on any initiatives that impact judicial education.
By ensuring that judges receive important information and training on subjects such as sexual assault law, systemic racism and systemic discrimination, social context and the factors that may affect individuals’ engagement with the justice system, judicial education keeps pace with social needs and preserves public confidence in the administration of justice.
Coming into Force
The MOU on judicial governance and the MOU on judicial education come into effect the date they are signed.
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