Federal Court Mandates Trudeau and Justice Minister to Expedite Judge Appointments

A Federal Court judge has issued a mandate to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet, directing them to swiftly fill judicial vacancies “within a reasonable time frame.” This directive comes in response to the court’s determination that Ottawa has faltered in delivering timely justice due to prolonged vacancies in the judiciary.

The ruling, handed down by Justice Henry Brown, underscores the concerns raised by Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner in a rare communication to the prime minister last year. Wagner emphasized the detrimental effects of prolonged vacancies on the Canadian justice system, urging prompt action.

Expressing disappointment, Justice Brown noted in his decision, “With the greatest respect, the Court finds the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice are simply treading water. They have failed to take the actions requested.”

While the court has mandated a resolution to the pressing judicial vacancy situation, it refrained from setting specific timelines for filling the vacancies. Despite some appointments made in the past eight months, the number of vacancies has remained largely unchanged, with 79 vacancies noted when the legal challenge was initiated in June 2023, and 75 vacancies as of February 1, 2024.

The legal challenge, brought by Ottawa human rights lawyer Yavar Hameed, targeted both the Prime Minister and Justice Minister Arif Virani for their failure to justify the delay in filling judicial vacancies.

In response to the ruling, Justice Minister Virani asserted that he is reviewing the decision and emphasized his commitment to expediting judge appointments. He highlighted the progress made during his tenure, having appointed 64 judges thus far, and acknowledged the need for further action. Virani underscored the complexities involving provincial factors contributing to court delays and stressed the importance of appointing judges of the highest calibre, reflective of Canada’s diversity.

While the court’s decision serves as a reminder of the imperative to address judicial vacancies promptly, it also underscores the ongoing efforts required to uphold the integrity and efficiency of the Canadian justice system.

As reported by CTV News

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