The tussle over the appointment of the new Chief Justice of the nation’s highest court has begun, with both the Bar of Montreal and the Canadian Bar Association penning letters in a bid to sway Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Not surprisingly the new head of the Montreal Bar is calling on Trudeau to respect “tradition” and appoint a Supreme Court judge from Quebec as the top court’s next chief justice.
In a brief letter sent to Trudeau, the president of the Bar of Montreal, Brian Mitchell, underscored the importance of rotating the appointment of chief justice between judges trained in common law and those from Quebec with a background in civil law. Mitchell also said that it is important to alternate between a French-speaking and English-speaking chief justice.
Barely a week after Quebec Minister of Justice Stephanie Vallée called on the federal government yet again to quickly appoint 10 new Superior Court justices in the province, the federal government announced two new appointments as well as a shake-up in the Quebec courts.
The latest appointments still falls short of what the Quebec government has been demanding. The president of the Quebec Bar, Paul-Matthieu Grondin, said in a tweet published shortly after the nominations that “the federal government MUST appoint judges to the Quebec Superior Court. Yesterday’s appointments are far from enough.”
Still, the new appointments and the reshuffle is nevertheless widely expected to make a dent in the backlog of cases that have plagued the Quebec criminal justice system, particularly since the landmark Jordan decision by the Supreme Court of Canada issued last summer.
The Quebec government is ramping its judicial appointments to ease the growing backlog of cases in the justice system.
Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée announced the appointment of three new Court of Quebec judges, making it the 20th judge the provincial government has appointed this year.
Last December the Quebec government announced it was going to pour $175.2 million over the next four years to recruit new judges, prosecutors and support staff to help curb mounting court delays. So far the Quebec government has hired 52 Crown prosecutors and 50 support staff, 38 correctional services officers, 16 special constables, 32 probation officers and more support staff at the Quebec Ministry of Justice. All told more than 300 have been hired.
After months of stalling, the federal government has finally appointed four new Quebec Superior Court justices in the district of Montreal.
The appointments, coupled with the recent appointment of 16 Court of Quebec judges by the provincial government, are widely expected to make a small dent in the backlog of cases that have plagued the Quebec criminal justice system, particularly since the landmark Jordan decision by the Supreme Court of Canada issued last summer. The Quebec Director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) revealed that there are 684 Jordan applications as of March 23, 2017, a figure that has tripled in the space of three months.
The Quebec provincial government has asserted that it needs 14 new Superior Court judges to deal with the bottleneck in the criminal justice system. Before the four appointments, there were six vacancies at the Quebec Superior Court.