Minister of Justice hosts virtual forum on Diversity on Bench

From: Department of Justice Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to the goal of achieving a judiciary that reflects the diversity of Canadian society.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, led a virtual forum with lawyers from across Canada’s justice system to encourage members of historically under-represented communities – such as Black and racialized Canadians, Indigenous peoples, persons with a disability or who identify as LGBTQ2 – to consider applying for judicial appointment.

Judicial diversity refers to not only ethnicity, Indigenous identity, gender and gender identity, sexuality or disability, but also to the range of perspectives and lived experiences from judges that better reflects contemporary Canadian society. Ensuring a diversity of experience and culture within Canada’s judiciary is fundamental to a fair and effective justice system, recognizing that when Canadians see themselves reflected in those who sit on the bench, their confidence in the administration of justice as a whole increases.

During the forum, the Minister engaged panelists to present on their experiences as judges or as members of Judicial Advisory Committees (JACs). These individuals provided first-hand accounts of their experiences with the appointments process, and offered insights into what applicants could expect throughout the process.

The Minister also took the occasion to strongly encourage members of diverse communities to apply for judicial appointment and to reiterate that, in light of the current pandemic, we must continue to seek ways to modernize the justice system to better support vulnerable populations.

Quotes

“Ensuring judges reflect the diversity of Canadian society will contribute to maintaining and increasing confidence in the administration of justice. I am very pleased that events such as the one I hosted today may encourage outstanding individuals from diverse communities to consider applying for judicial appointment.”

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Quick facts

  • In 2016, the Government of Canada introduced reforms to the superior court’s judicial appointments process aimed at reinforcing public confidence through openness, increased transparency and accountability, and by promoting diversity and gender balance on the bench.

  • Judicial Advisory Committees (JACs) are at the heart of the appointment process. They assess all applications for judicial appointment, and forward their recommendations to the Minister of Justice.

  • In 2016, the Government reconstituted all JACs in order to make them more representative of the diversity of Canada. A public application process for the Public Representative positions was launched, and diversity and unconscious bias training was developed.

  • Since November 2015, more than 390 judges have been appointed at the superior court level. Of these, more than half are women. The number of judges who are Black and racialized or Indigenous individuals has steadily increased.

  • This is the third Judicial Diversity forum hosted by the Department of Justice with two previous in-person sessions taking place in Toronto and Edmonton in 2018.

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