In the Accord, the Chief Justice and the Minister express their commitment to the independence of the judiciary, which is fundamental to our democracy and to maintaining public confidence in the justice system and the rule of law. The Accord also embodies a shared commitment to an accessible and effective justice system that provides high-quality, accessible and timely services to all Canadians.
In its operative provisions, the Accord sets the framework for a collaborative and productive relationship between the Chief Justice and the Minister, recognizing that each has an important role with respect to the administration of justice. It does this through key provisions relating to the handling of funding requests, contracting authority and the appointment of the Court’s senior administrative office-holders. Setting these provisions out in a public document brings clarity to this ongoing relationship and advances openness and transparency.
“As Chief Justice of Canada, it brings me great pride to have signed this Accord with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, knowing that it will further strengthen public confidence in the administration of justice. The Accord exemplifies Canada’s commitment to safeguarding its institutions and protecting democratic values such as judicial independence. A judiciary that is independent – and seen to be independent- benefits all Canadians.”
The Right Honourable Richard Wagner, P.C.
Chief Justice of Canada
“The Accord is an important milestone in the institutional relationship between the executive branch of government and our nation’s highest Court. It is a strong affirmation by the Government and the Chief Justice of Canada that a just and democratic society requires, at its heart, a strong commitment to judicial independence and respect for the rule of law. As Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I thank Chief Justice Wagner on behalf of all Canadians for his steadfast commitment and championing of these fundamental values.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
The Accord is an agreement between the Chief Justice of Canada and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, effective on the date of its signature. It can be found on the Supreme Court of Canada website here: https://www.scc-csc.ca/court-cour/accord-justice-eng.aspx.
The nine Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada are supported in their duties by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (ORSCC). The ORSCC is headed by the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada and its funding is authorized by Parliament.
While the Minister of Justice is answerable before Parliament for the ORSCC, the Registrar takes direction from the Chief Justice of Canada rather than from the Minister. The ORSCC is separate and fully independent from the Department of Justice.
The Accord recognizes the independence of the Supreme Court of Canada by publicly describing key features of the relationship between the Chief Justice of Canada and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, as well as between ORSCC officials and officials from various government departments. This includes:
- The roles of the Governor in Council, the Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of Canada in decisions regarding the appointment and termination of the Registrar and Deputy Registrar.
- The role of the Minister of Justice in funding decisions related to the ORSCC.
- The authority of the Registrar to engage private sector legal services in a manner that recognizes the independence of the Supreme Court of Canada.