After this.event hosted by the Diversity Institute and Ryerson’s Law Research Centre, my Dean and I thought we would try sending out a letter to the relevant federal department asking if they would release more information about the pool of candidates for judicial appointment. Why not, right?
Compared to the Ontario process, the Federal level process is very opaque – and it’s not subject to FOI requests. Strategizing about how to make the judiciary more representative is hard if we don’t have good information about the nature of the problem.
Here’s the letter (cross posted to the Dean’s Blog):
The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Judicial Appointments Secretariat
Office of the Commissioner for
Federal Judicial Affairs Canada
99 Metcalfe Street, 8th floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1E3
As you know, recent public discussions and media coverage on the issue of diversity of Canada’s judiciary have raised important questions about the Federal appointments process. Such questions are difficult to address because statistical information about that process and the pool of candidates who apply for Federally appointed judicial positions is not made available.
While we appreciate the need for confidentiality in relation to specific individuals who may be considered for judicial appointment, the value of releasing aggregate demographic data on such applicants (including gender, linguistic and racial background) is clear.
We write to urge that either the Ministry or the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs release demographic data about the pool of applicants seeking federal judicial appointment. We believe such data will lead to greater engagement from the public, the profession and the academic community on the issue of how to ensure the Federal judiciary reflects the diversity of Canadian society. We believe making such data available enhances the transparency and accountability of the appointment process, and will lead to greater public confidence in the administration of justice in Canada.
Professor Sonia Lawrence & Dean and Professor Lorne Sossin