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Lecture 3

Week 3 Courselink Readings.docx

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Political Science
POLS 3130
Dennis Baker

Week 3 Courselink Readings Appointments of female judges slump under Harper's Tories kirk makin JUSTICE REPORTER— From Saturday's Globe and Mail -The appointment of female judges has diminished to a trickle under the Harper government, dashing any hopes that equal gender representation is on the doorstep. -Only eight women have been appointed to the federal judiciary this year, compared to 41 men. -In the past, governments could point to a preponderance of men in the legal profession to explain the discrepancy. However, the ratio of men to women has changed so dramatically that females typically outnumber males at law schools -Many U.S. states are seen as leaders in appointing female candidates to the bench, particularly higher courts. Representation of female judges in Canadian courts Globe and Mail -total judges appointed by the federal government: 68% men/ 32% women Purposive Interpretation, Quebec, and the Supreme Court Act Michael Plaxton and Carissima Mathen -the Prime Minister announced the nomination of Marc Nadon, a Federal Court of Appeal judge, to fill the seat vacated by Supreme Court Justice Morris Fish -The announcement was accompanied by an unusual supporting document — an opinion by a former Supreme Court Justice, The Honourable Ian Binnie stating that the Supreme Court Act permits the appointment of Federal Court judges -in apparent response to these events, the federal government announced that it would introduce a “declaratory” change to the Supreme Court Act -Because Binnie’s interpretation of sections 5 and 6 is one of the only discussions of this issue, and is likely to influence any subsequent legal analysis, we take his opinion as a starting point I. Binnie’s memorandum -Section 5 of the Supreme Court Act states: “Any person may be appointed a judge who is or has been a judge of a superior court of a province or a barrister or advocate of at least ten years standing at the bar of a province.” Section 6 provides: “At least three of the judges shall be appointed from among the judges of the Court of Appeal or of the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec or from among the advocates of that province.” -Mr Justice Nadon was, at the time of his nomination, neither a judge of a Quebec superior court nor a current member of the practicing bar. -It is not clear that he is “among the advocates” of Quebec within the meaning of section 6 -Binnie stated that the writing was not intended to exclude members from QB that weren’t currently practicing -“Parliament’s obvious concern in ss. 5 and 6 was to exclude from consideration men and women who lack the appropriate skills and experience. Exclusion from possible appointment of the talent pool of Federal Court judges conflicts with this purpose” -“Any interpretation of ss. 5 and 6 of the Supreme Court of Canada Act that leads to such an absurd result should be rejected” -others argue that great care should be taken before we assume that “among the advocates” includes past advocates -The claim is nothing more or less than that the language Parliament actually used in sections 5 and 6 currently restricts who can be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada Reflections: On Judicial Diversity and Judicial Independence Sonia Lawrence -Judicial independence is the concept that the judiciary needs to be kept away from the other branches of government. That is, courts should not be subject to improper influence from the other branches of government, or from private or par
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