Ottawa wants more diversity in the Canadian judiciary

OTTAWA — The Canadian government is making changes to the questionnaire that candidates for federal judges must fill out, in order to be able to more easily appoint judges from diverse backgrounds.

The change is intended to incorporate language that is “more respectful and inclusive of individuals who identify themselves as part of diversity,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

Voices have been raised recently to deplore the lack of diversity within the Canadian judiciary.

These Federal Judicial Appointments Questionnaires are an essential tool used by advisory boards across the country to review nominations and submit their recommendations to the Minister of Justice.

However, the government « encourages members of advisory committees to strive to create pools of candidates that are gender-balanced and reflective of Canada’s diversity. » The new questionnaire should facilitate the identification of candidates from diverse backgrounds.

Former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould had already announced in 2016 a process to increase transparency, independence and diversity in the justice system, with particular emphasis on the selection of women and members of visible minorities.

The changes to the 2016 questionnaire were made after consultations with the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Judicial Council and the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, the Department of Justice says.

« These changes to the Federal Judicial Appointments Questionnaire will allow the Judicial Advisory Committees, whose recommendations I rely on, to benefit from comprehensive and relevant information, » wrote Minister David Lametti.

« At the same time, I hope these changes will further encourage candidates from across Canada to apply for appointment and support increased diversity within the judiciary. »

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