Trudeau To Eliminate MOST Western Canadian Judges from Qualifying for Supreme Court

It was a very unusual moment … especially for the bilingual-sensitive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Almost without fail, when Trudeau has held media briefings, he has delivered his announcements=du-jour in BOTH of Canada’s Official languages.

Friday he did not.

Speaking in French, Trudeau spoke at length about the importance of protecting and expanding the use of both Official languages across the country … and sang the praises of his government’s actions in particular at protecting/providing French services coast to coast.

And then he promised to go even further: make it a CONDITION that any judge considered for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada will have to be fully bilingual.

Fascinatingly, Trudeau did NOT repeat his announcement of the planned MAJOR change to the appointment criteria for Canada’s top Court in English! Just en Francais!

Why? Pourquois!

At first glance, the idea may seem laudable, especially to a bilingual Quebecois-born and educated pundit like moi, who worked very hard to learn French at a time when les Anglos never did, and who has long supported provision of federal services in both languages partout le pays.

But there’s MUCH more involved here than meets the eye … or Trudeau’s attempt to boost his popularity in Quebec and among francophones. (Did someone say election?)

English-speaking Canadians, especially in Western Canada (Maritimes too), should be VERY concerned.

We’re not talking about being bilingual enough to order “deux chien chauds et un poutine, s’il vous plait”.

The Supreme Court often hears very complex legal arguments, including highly technical issues, patents, criminal cases, historic legal precepts and concepts and parliamentary precedents.

Until now, the Court has used expert certified simultaneous translators … so that the Court could be made up of some of Canada’s best LEGAL minds … not just judges whose strongest qualification might be expertise in both English AND French.

Trudeau’s new policy will disqualify almost EVERY judge in Western Canada from being appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada …. no matter how brilliant a legal mind or extensive experience he or she offers.

Think of how few judges in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan would be so proficient in French to hear/understand/rule on complex legal arguments in French???

Maybe that’s the Trudeau/Liberal plan? Limit the only possible selection to a few politically-correct, Liberal-leaning Vancouver/urban lawyers/judicial office holders.

Stack the Court by manipulating the pre-requisites!

Western Canadians should be alarmed.

Maybe that’s why he didn’t repeat his announcement in English?

This idea came up before …way back in 2009, with an NDP Private Member’s Bill I wrote about at the time: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/ottawa-move-could-severely-limit-supreme-court-judges-from-west/.

The Liberals, in Opposition at the time, supported the NDP and the Bloc … but the Tory government under Stephen Harper, was able to fight it off.

The game … and the numbers … this time are different.

Trudeau/Liberals could push this through, even if the Conservative Opposition speak out and stand against it.

History has shown the modern federal NDP has NEVER stood up in Ottawa for BC or Western Canada against Quebec’s best interests (placing the hunt for seats over principles).

So they will no doubt support Trudeau/Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois in this latest move to control/reduce/restrict Western input on the federal scene.

Provincial Premiers, Legislatures, Law Societies of the West … and the people too … should stand up and speak out …

And maybe even make it a federal election issue.

Harv Oberfeld

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28 Responses to Trudeau To Eliminate MOST Western Canadian Judges from Qualifying for Supreme Court

  1. 13 says:

    This is sickening. No announcement in English is an insult to a large portion of the population.
    Canada must denounce this idiot. BUT if Trudeau is willing to make every public sector worker (school janitors , teachers, city councilors, MLAs MPs and all civil servants anyone that cashes a government pay check) in Canada be held to the SAME STANDARD Im okay with it.

    (Response: From his point of view, it may have been a smart move: no one questioned him on the bilingual-Court topic that day! BUT the government did issue a document …in BOTH Official languages as required … on all the reforms planned. The National Post had a good piece on it: https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/liberals-proposed-language-reforms-seek-equality-of-english-and-french-in-canada. h.o)

  2. BMCQ says:

    There are many words to describe this action, despicable comes to my mind first .

    Having said that I am not in the least bit surprised, why would I be, the Canadian PM has never been held accountable for any of his dishonest, disrespectful, deceitful, or despicable actions in the past, why would he shy away from the manipulation, restructuring, and gerrymandering of Canada’s Highest Court .

    The Canadian PM does not in any sense have a Military that allows him to be a Dictator but he certainly does have the support of a complicit media, an NDP Party and it’s Gutless Leader, a handful of Provinces including B.C. and it’s Premier, and the voting population of Toronto and Montreal that in fact slow him he absolutely has the Right to Rule Like the Dictator he believes he is .

    He wallows in his “Messiah Complex” and there is no reason for him to feel he will ever be held accountable because he very well knows that “His Flock” will never betray him .

    Why would PM Justin even think or bother to be cautious or shy away from doing everything he just did as Harvey fully describes in his essay above ?

    I am beginning to think Canadians get exactly what they deserve .

    Then to add to all of this Conservatives, Scheer, and O’Toole along with the Fawning Media of PM Justin do everything humanly possible to ensure that Conservative Leaders and their platforms are all forever locked down very tightly in a “Witness Protection Program” .

    (Response: I suspect much of Trudeau’s motivation for this move … and also his announcement of banning handguns … are designed to back O’Toole and the Conservatives into a corner. If they oppose either, the Liberals will accuse them of being anti-Quebec or supporting gun-toting dangerous people etc etc. It’s politics more than principles … I can almost hear the speeches and see the TV ads now! The West ..and even other parts of Canada … have to stand up against this Supreme Court move, that will cripple MOST Western judges’ ability to get appointed to the Supreme Court forever if it passes! h.o)

  3. r says:

    2 ears ..one for Ontario and the other for Quebec?

  4. Gilbert says:

    This is clearly an atttempt to win more votes in Quebec. I have a question for the prime minister. Will Francophones need to be completely fluent in English? If so, can I apply for the position to evaluate their English?

    To my big surprise, I learned there are Quebeckers who don’t speak English. When I was 16, I flew to Quebec on a high school exchange program. We stayed in Thetford Mines, a place not far from Quebec City. I asked my home-stay family why they didn’t speak English. They told me they’d never studied it in school. Incroyable, n’est-ce pas?

    We have to be fair. If Anglophones need to be perfectly bilingual, then Francophones do too.

    (Responsible: The fact that francophone judges would also be required to be fluently bilingual is a bit of a red herring. Well educated French-speaking lawyers/doctors/engineers/professionals/judges etc, well aware that they live/work in a continent of 375 million English-speaking people almost always have learned English in the course of their studies and professional development … to their credit and success. However, I don’t think a brilliant French-speaking judge working in Quebec City or Chicoutimi or Sherbrooke should be disqualified because his English isn’t perfect. That would be ridiculous! It’s unreasonable to expect the same in reverse for English speaking lawyers/doctors/engineers/professionals/judges living and working in provinces like BC, Saskatchewan, Alberta ..even Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia or up north who may never have occasion in their entire careers to work in French. That’s why …wanting the best LEGAL minds ..Canada has ways had expert translators in BOTH Official languages …to ensure legal qualification is the top criteria, not political correctness or vote-buying discrimination. h.o)

  5. D. M. Johnston says:

    With such weak premier’s in the West, the Liberals will do as they please with judges.

    Sadly, the Liberals are not a Canadian party, rather it is a “central” party desperately trying to maintain the power of Ontario and Quebec.

    All this will do is drive Western alienation and further fracture the NDP, Greens and conservatives. Great strategy for the liberals, for the rest, fiasco.

    I weep for this country and now definitely I am a second class citizen.

    (Response: It’s a shame the federal NDP has become such a Quebec-pandering entity … failing for years now to speak up or stand up for BC on any issue (seats, power, appointments) if it would mean cutting back on Quebec or Ontario’s excesses in either regard. And yet, so many BC voters send them back over and over, failing to realize how they have been sold out by the party on every issue involving national power or politics. h.o)

  6. Not Sure says:

    A policy to make the Supreme Court bilingual is proposed. So far the arguments against are

    1. this is just an election ploy
    2. Trudeau is an idiot
    3. Trudeau is a dictator
    4. Trudeau only cares about Ontario and Quebec
    5. the Liberals have abandoned the west
    6. Trudeau sucks
    7. apparently western judges aren’t smart enough to be bilingual

    Maybe I am just a contrarian but…

    1. Language is nuanced. It is better to hear the argument in the original language rather than through a translator
    2. If even one judge is unilingual then by default that becomes the language that is used when the 9 justices are arguing/discussing a case amongst themselves
    3. The two western judges on the Supreme Court are 64 and 55 years old. That means 11 years before the next western judge is selected. Seems like plenty of time to become bilingual for anybody thinking about the Supreme Court.
    4. The difference in qualification between any number of people being considered for the Supreme Court is probably negligible so why couldn’t fluency in a second language be a tie breaker.
    5. Translators are likely to be available if something is unclear.
    6. This is already informal policy. Can’t find it now, but I read somewhere that 7 of the 8 justices were bilingual after the last justice retired. That means 8/9 are bilingual.
    7. All things being equal wouldn’t a fully bilingual Supreme Court be the ideal. In other words isn’t that what we should be aiming for?

    I am Not Sure where I stand on this issue or how much I even care about it in the scheme of things. But bashing Trudeau as fun as that can be is not addressing the actual merits (if any) of this proposal.

    (Response; Your “contrarian”???? You may find “a fully bilingual Supreme Court be the ideal” … but I believe what counts more … MUCH MORE … is a Supreme Court that makes superb LEGAL knowledge and experience the major pre-requisites and reflects the ENTIRE country … including those peoples/areas where almost no French is spoken and also those where almost no English is spoken. Otherwise we will end up with a very urban (liberal?) Court, with little or no widespread representation of the country’s entire population and, I suggest, with very white, European roots … with almost no first or second generation lawyers/provincial judges with multi-cultural backgrounds (Asian, Punjabi. Hispanic) who may speak OTHER second languages having the deck stacked against them. h.o)

  7. Richard Skelly says:

    This news simply increases my confidence that the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan will schedule separation referendums if the Trudeau Liberals win the next election. Take it to the bank: Those referendums will pass. And either force a renegotiation of Confederation as we know it. Or spell the beginning of the end of the experiment known as Canada.

    (Response: This law will certainly relegate most Western Canadian lawyers and judges to second-class status within Canada’s Court system. Many in other provinces too. But it’s not about justice or fairness or building the best Supreme Court possible. The Supreme Court has worked extremely well with expert translators in BOTH Official languages for a hundred years. In fact, it’s one of the least doubted and criticized Canadian institutions. This is all about VOTES … and pandering to get them. h.o)

  8. nonconfidencevote says:

    Gilbert.
    Thetford mines eh?
    Yep.
    I went there to visit an old friend who used to life in Vancouver for a few days.
    We went golfing. His English is Excellent, my “pigeon” French is dreadful.
    We grouped up with some elderly french golfers who loved speaking English just for the practice.
    We went to the clubhouse apres golf and enjoyed a meal/beers/laughs.
    A group of visibly agitated francophones ( mid 30’s) approached the table and asked ( in french) “why I couldn’t speak french?”
    My friend translated. Silence from everyone.
    I looked at the guy and said,
    “I’m from Vancouver, if I’m going to learn a second language it will be Chinese”
    Everyone (including some of his friends) laughed.

    Another “vote pandering” red herring tossed up to the Quebec pure laines I suppose.

    The Liberals are nothing if not predictable.
    Lets get the election started.
    I’ve had enough of Trudeau’s breathless, politically correct, equality lecturing.
    All while he uses our tax dollars to send this country to the poor house for decades.

    (Response: I can understand why Trudeau/Liberals are moving ahead with this to solidify their vote in Quebec and other heavily francophone areas. But WHY won’t the NDP stand up and speak out for the BC … where so many of their seats are??? How many judges here speak French well enough to hear complicated, legal arguments in French? Especially those of first or send generation multi-cultural backgrounds! I suspect this new legal requirement would exclude almost any of them from making it onto Canada’s top Court… even though many I’m sure have achieved superb legal expertise that could be of great value to the nation. h.o)

  9. nonconfidencevote says:

    Trudeau’s pandering to Quebecers for their necessary votes is nothing new for the Liberals.
    But it does raise and interesting predicament for our feckless leader.

    A snap Election before the vaccine lineups(screwups?) or after?

    Because if we can be guaranteed one thing .
    Govts agencies at all levels can make a mountain out of a mole hill.
    They have had a year to set this up and already I’m hearing the excuses.
    The blame game will start very soon.

    Trudeau’s already getting heat for the delays in receiving vaccines and if this drags on until Fall …or longer…. his poll numbers will twist in the wind…

    (Response: One of the big questions is how will O’Toole and the Conservatives handle this issue. The Liberals, NDP and Greens will sell out English speaking Canadians in a flash in their hunt for Quebec and sizeable francophone votes in Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba. The Tories dream about increasing their Quebec votes/seats …so what will they do? Stay silent? Or stand up/speak out for fairness? h.o)

  10. D. M. Johnston says:

    The notion that Canada is bilingual is nothing more than a politcal power grab by Francophones, nothing more.

    Yes, Quebec is French and yes they speak French, and it is protected by law across the country, nothing wrong with that.

    Canada is not Switzeraland, where there are four official languages, each protected by law, but unilingual speakers are also protected by law, not so in Canada, where unilingual speakers have become second class citizens, even third class in some provinces.

    Switzerland is approximately 41,277 sq km, while Canada is approximately 9,984,670 sq km, making Canada 24,089% larger than Switzerland. Meanwhile, the population of Switzerland is ~8.4 million people (29.3 million more people live in Canada).

    In Switzerland, one must try be bilingual in the country because of the close proximity to speakers of the other three languages and most speak English.

    In Canada, west of the lake head to Victoria is 3,000 km! And only a handful of Francophone communities along the way, which of course they language the use is protected by law; not so for unilingual Anglophones, especially when French is not spoken commonly. These Anglophones are not protected by law and worse, made 2nd class citizens.

    Trudeau and the Liberals are more than elitist, that are racist, by not allowing unilingual judges on the Supreme Court, which one could argue that the Canadian Supreme court is now a racist court, treating unilingual Anglophones as second class people.

    Some, I know will take issue with this, but it is how I see it.

    As I said before, the Western Premier’s are very weak and needing federal monies for Covid relief and funding for all sorts of schemas, will say nothing.

    This will not just stir up Weastern alienation, but sow the seeds of Western separation.

    All it needs is a charismatic leader to appear, speak sweet nothings to the voters and before one knows it, 1933 repeats itself!

    As an aside, most countries with multiple languages have translators, those so gifted to be able to speak many languages fluently; I am not so gifted and not for a want of trying. Thus in Trudeau’s eyes I am second class, a throw away.

    (Response: Part of the reason Trudeau/Liberals can get away with this is most of the “national” media …representing mostly just Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto IGNORED it. The National Post did an extensive article after Friday’s announcement (in French only), but that’s about it. Can you imagine how the Quebec/francophone media and population would react if, say, to be fair and more representative Trudeau had declared that 50% of the Court appointees from everywhere, including from Quebec had to be religious/racial/multi-cultural minorities … excluding francophone Quebeckers from 50% of the appointments to positions there! Well, the impact on Western Canada of Trudeau’s law will be WORSE .. eliminating 80% (or more?) of our judges from even being considered for appointments! I doubt more than 10 or 15% of Western Canadian judges would qualify for the Supreme Court appointment under the new language requirement. Yet…silence from the media, politicians, people here! No wonder the West is so often ignored in Ottawa. h.o)

  11. BMCQ says:

    It appears that the Party Standings in Canadian Parliament from the last Federal Election is as follows .

    Liberals Conservatives Bloc NDP Green Ind

    154 120 32 24 3 5

    IMHO almost any combination of CPC, BQ, NDP, GP, and Ind could
    force/trigger an election .

    The NDP under Singh are quickly turning into a “Rump Party”, but if they were
    to participate in a forced election call they would benefit from a serious number of
    Liberal Voters who would abandon the Failed PM and it would/should result in an increase in seats for the NDP .

    If the NDPO wait until say next fall 2021 and vaccines counts are moving upward the NDP could be decapitated and in fact lose many of the few seats they have left .

    The NDP have nothing to lose, they need to act now and take advantage, the BQ could also benefit from an election call, the PM and the Liberals are now vulnerable in Quebec and because of that we will see PM Justin courting more Quebec Voters .

    The very subject of H.O.’s Blog topic/essay above is the beginning of the PM Justin pandering efforts toward Quebec, and this is only the beginning .

    Between bogus Transit promises, and others that will soon be rolled out better than the vaccines the PM will be doing everything he can to attract votes for the fall of 2021 if the vaccines are getting into the arms of Canadians .

    If the vaccines are not getting into the arms of the “Great Unwashed he will be forced to wait until the spring .

    Peopled cannot talk “Western separation” all they would like but with the Coastline of British Columbia is is just a silly wish and a dream .

    I have mentioned that to someone in government who is a Western separatist in Northern B.C. and his reply went something like this, “We do not the lower mainland of YVR, we only need the coastline of Northern B.C. and the rest of the Province of B.C. that borders Alberta” .

    He quite possibly makes a valid point .

    The more the Canadian PM panders to Quebec with Special Deals for Federal Supreme Court Judges and “Special Interests” the more he alienates the people of Canada, he is taking a big gamble, let’s hope he keeps alienating Canadian Citizens and more importantly Canadian Voters .

    How much more will the Good People of Canada put up with ?

    (Response: The problem is there is not ANY party willing to stand up for the West if it could lose them seats ..or the dream of seats ..in the East. read it and weep for the West. h.o)

  12. Art Smith says:

    Hi Harvey, not once in my years, have the Liberal Party given much thought to the West as anything more than a supplier of raw materials for the only important parts of this country Ontario and Quebec. This country was never, ever envisioned as anything more, hence the fact Quebec maintains their number of seats by percentage of the countries population, whether up or down and Ontario has always had a huge percent of the population. The Maritimes are over represented, with PEI having 4 seats, with a population of less than a small city, it is a joke, as much as I like it there.
    I think the time is near for a complete rearrangement of the whole country, the western provinces need get their acts together and start acting in concert with each other to get some recognition from Ottawa, the maritimes should stop being always ready to miss any opportunity that comes along and Quebec should start developing some of their resources and stop hindering things like pipelines, which could benefit all of Canada. I think if things don’t change fairly soon this whole country will fracture into a bunch of Balkanized states, which we almost are what with the stupid interprovincial blockages to free provincial trade.
    I know this seems off topic, but I think the Liberals feel quite confident that as long as they appease Quebec and Ontario in every way, they will always be in power, just by the mechanics of the way things have been set up.

    (Response: You say it’s time for “a complete rearrangement of the whole country”. Yes, there are many things that could be improved, BUT that would require changes approved by those who benefit most, those who are spoiled, those who are pandered to by all the current parties and power structures. and that will NEVER happen until, as you suggest, the West gets its act together and DEMANDS , not just seeks, a fairer arrangement. Unfortunately, with this latest Trudeau scheme … and the silence of the people, the politicians and the media out this way … things are about to get WORSE not better. h.o)

  13. e.a.f. says:

    When I first saw the headline it was like, what the hell does that mean. read the headline again and yes it was still the same. read the article, comments and yes, no change. OMG, that does not make me happy. Time to write my M.P. a Green and the P.M.’s office. Not Happy at all.

    Speaking Mandarin or Cantonese is the choice in Vancouver. but Mandarin is more popular than Cantonese these days.

    Don’t know why he hasn’t set an Indigenous language as one of the required languages. that would at least make sense to me. The Indigenous languages were the first languages of Canada and in the North there are people who speak neither English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Spanish, Portugese, etc. They speak the language of the Inuit.

    Thank you for the information Harvey. I’m not happy about this at all. Perhaps some of us might want to write letters to the editor of our local papers also. Don’t think a lot of Canadian are going to be all that happy about this. Translation services are excellent here in Canada and its not hard to understand. Wonder if any one has asked Trudeau at a presser, why he is really doing this? I am really unhappy about this.

    (Response: For Canadians to decide whether they are happy or not with the change, they have to first hear about it ..either from the media (mostly complacent and compliant) or the Official Opposition (the Liberals, NDP and Bloc hope nobody in English Canada notices before it gets passed). You can also pass this blog on (use the link at the end of the blog piece) to friends and family and political leaders in the West and call for action … even an election … to stop it. h.o)

  14. Not Sure says:

    Well this has spiralled in an interesting direction. Demands for an election. Threats of separation.

    Here I was trying to focus the debate away from the Trudeau and election pandering arguments to address the actual proposal.

    With more time on my hands because of covid, I like to look stuff up. To make sure I got negative stories I googled “why shouldn’t supreme court justices be bilingual”.

    In 2016, Trudeau had his first chance to select a new Supreme Court justice. As per tradition (3 from Ontario, 3 from Quebec, 2 from the West and one from the Atlantic region) this one was to be from Atlantic Canada to replace the person who was retiring at the mandatory age of 75. Newfoundland and Labrador had never had a judge appointed and this article lamented the fact that Newfoundland would miss out again because Trudeau was insisting on a bilingual person.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/nl-remains-without-supreme-court-justice-1.3687862

    But guess what? They found one, born on a fishing outpost, the first of his family to go to university. And it doesn’t look like he is an inconsequential jurist.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Rowe

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/malcolm-rowe-committee-questions-1.3820318

    https://www.simcoe.com/opinion-story/6933676-rowe-s-supreme-court-appointment-sets-bilingualism-bar-quite-a-bit-higher-h-bert/

    Trudeau had a second pick the following year, this time to replace Beverly Mclachlin from BC. He chose an Albertan. She too is well respected and not surprisingly bilingual. Interesting that the main criticism of Justice Martin was her whiteness.

    https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/paula-simons-appointment-of-sheilah-martin-to-supreme-court-raises-awkward-ironies

    I am guessing that we will likely get a person from some visible minority when Trudeau makes his next pick to replace a judge from Ontario who is retiring this summer.

    And then I thought what did Harper do with his seven picks. Most were from Ontario and Quebec so not really applicable to this discussion but his last one occurred in 2015 when he had to replace someone from the west. At that time, Trudeau was making noise about the bilingualism requirement and guess what Harper did. He found a distinguished bilingual judge from Alberta.

    https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/russell-brown-brings-wide-experience-to-scc-says-chief-justice-1.2491163

    Does anybody want to argue that the Supreme Court is weaker because of those three picks? Does anybody want to argue that the west/Atlantic Canada were harmed by these three picks?

    Besides, as per tradition, the west gets two justices. Sheila Martin retires in 2031. Russel Brown retires in 2040. Not Sure if I will be around then, but I am sure there will many suitable bilingual justices to choose from at that time, especially if the government improves the French Immersion programs that are also part of the package.

    I don’t know Harvey. I guess this proposal needn’t be made law. I even read in one article that it could be challenged on constitutional grounds. The PM has the final decision, so if he/she wants to insist on bilingual appointments, that’s what happens. But if this proposal doesn’t become law and Erin O’Toole happens to be PM in 2031 I am pretty sure he will select someone who is bilingual anyway.

    As a completely unilingual BCer, I think there are other much more serious issues to get excited about. But that’s just moi. Clearly I am outvoted on this one.

    (Response: We agree!!! When you write “I guess this proposal needn’t be made law,” I say Exactly! I support bilingualism and respect for both French and English partout le pays as official languages. And yes, a knowledge of both languages should/would be an asset in filling Court seats. BUT there should not be a law BANNING any judge, no matter how brilliant a legal mind, from being appointed to the Supreme Court because he or she are only EXPERTS in one of the two languages. Hearing and fully understanding the implications, references and nuances of cases before the Supreme Court in ONE language is no doubt hard enough … without demanding (expect for political reasons) that they also MUST be experts in the second language. Expert translation has served Canada well for many, many decades … respecting fully the rights of both language groups. The only reason Trudeau is doing this … a vote breaker for me … is to appeal for the francophone votes, knowing the NDP and Bloc will go along, and just trying to put O’Toole/Tories in a bind. They should realize MOST Canadians, if informed about this, would object and the Tories should not fear opposing it. h.o)

  15. Gilbert says:

    It’s fine to demand that Supreme Court judges be able to communicate in both of Canada’s official languages. However, it’s unfair to demand that they be fully bilingual. Without question, this will eliminate many candidates from western Canada.

    It’s time for us to make our voices heard. If the media doesn’t want to debate this, let’s make sure that Canadians from coast to coast know about this. Let’s write to our MP’s, share our concerns and spread the word.

    (Response: Once more, here is the link to this blog piece: people who are concerned should pass it on to the media here and in other provinces, their MPs, Erin O’Toole, the Conservative Party:http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/trudeau-eliminates-most-western-canadian-judges-from-qualifying-for-supreme-court/ . h.o)

  16. BMCQ says:

    I do not claim to be a “Top Fact Checker” like some former (DBW) and some current “Keeping it Real” Bloggers but I did a quick 3 minute search early this morning looking for other stories or commentaries on the above topic outlined by Harvey and NOTHING jumped out at me .

    In fact the only thing I saw was the actual KIR Blog Post/Essay by Harvey, it is almost
    like this story is being ignored, media are asleep at the wheel, media do not care, or media are complicit, which is it ?

    Media are abdicating their duties, what makes them so intent on protecting and shielding a PM and Cabinet that consists of such “Mediocre People” ?

    Will any of this ever get better ?

    Yes Canadians need to be informed, inform themselves, and make informed decisions but when media are literally bending over backwards to favour one Federal Political Party over others it becomes very difficult for the “Great Unwashed” to become informed .

    Despicable and Disgusting !

    Keep holding the Politicians of ALL brands accountable Harvey, unfortunately on this one it appears thus far you are on your own .

    I concur with Harvey, with e.a.f., and others on this blog that suggest, “Lets pass this “Keeping It Real” Blog Topic along to as many people as we can and let’s contact media and politicians and demand more and better from them .

    I agree, with behavior from our Political Masters that totally ignores democracy and the Western Canadian Provinces pf Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C. it is no wonder “Western separatism” is always on the “Boil” !

    The Canadian PM panders to Quebec/Montreal. Ottawa, and Toronto/Ontario but he ignores the West, why does he choose to ignore the West and then pander to the Eastern Power Houses mentioned ?

    There is only ONE Reason for that behavior, “VOTES” !!

    Do not worry though, the Canadian PM believes that just like Hanging, the West will learn to tolerate his behavior, “Not to uh Worry”, he says .

    “Sunny Ways My Friends, Sunny Ways” !!

    (Response: It will be interesting to see if O’Toole and the Tories speak out. Personally I doubt it …because they too have their eyes on Quebec’s 78 seats in the Commons. But Kenney and Ford (plus their Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland counterparts should speak out … especially if Canadians find out what Trudeau/Liberals (with NDP and Bloc support)are planning on doing and oppose such blatant discrimination against Canadians who can’t speak the other Official language. Pass it on people … the link is provided in the blog note above. h.o)

  17. Rainclouds says:

    Last time I checked the only official bilingual province in Canada is NB. While it was a laudable goal to attempt to do this in the ROC didnt happen for many reasons.

    Do I wish I could speak french? maybe, Spanish would be my personal interest. More of them AND They seem less concerned if you screw up pronunciation. I always try in Que and ask in French if they understand anglais as it would be less painful for them:-) Quebeckers are great people and generally accepting og my linguistic failings.

    The PM while trying to back the Cons into a corner is starting to look rather autocratic
    and desperate. I look forward to the day he is exposed as the muddle headed dilatant he actually is.

    (Response: I know many people in some parts of the country feel there are other languages that have the numbers to deserve official language acceptance rather than French. I don’t agree: French and English have historical precedents as founding languages, not just by virtue of use, but by founding agreements negotiated and signed as part of the establishment of Canada as a country. Other languages (Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish) may deserve inclusion in public info various government announcements, documents etc. by virtue of having large numbers who could be affected, but as the nation’s Official languages, I support only English and French. h.o)

  18. Not Sure says:

    BMCQ I can only speculate about the media (which I will) but first here is the link to the entire proposal which is meant to update the 50 year old Official Languages Act. There are 56 proposals dealing with federal agencies, French Immersion classes, the CBC, Indigenous Languages as well as the Supreme Court justices. In sum “this document articulates the Government of Canada’s vision and intentions, which will be presented to the House of Commons in a bill this year.”

    https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/corporate/publications/general-publications/equality-official-languages.html

    Speculating about the media. This story is in its earliest stages. I believe a committee will be struck to look through this for 60 days before the going to Parliament for debate.
    That takes us to spring. When it gets to the House, I imagine it will take them at least through the summer and the summer recess and into the fall where there is the possibility of an election. Legislation of this nature is usually slow moving, so the story will be around for a while.

    I know some of you are agitated about this, but don’t wear yourself out too soon. Most people are probably more interested in the vaccine rollout, possible reopenings of the economy, post pandemic plans and even the six legged puppy on today’s noon news.

    (In fact Harvey, are you planning to write on Canada’s vote that declared that China is committing genocide against the Uighur’s. That’s a right now story.)

    (Response: This is NOT a story ” in its earliest stages”. It has reared its head every so often for years. This was in Macleans in 2016: https://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/in-defence-of-a-bilingual-supreme-court/ … typical Eastern Canadian politically correct muck, totally out of touch with the REALITY that is MOST of the country. They keep at it … like separatists … a small, active, persistent minority who keep at it, knowing they only have to win ONCE and then it’s game over forever for rules/laws that reflect/protect the majority, as well as minorities. h.o)

  19. Baker says:

    “Response: This is NOT a story ” in its earliest stages”. It has reared its head every so often for years. This was in Macleans in 2016.”

    So, no real urgency then? No point setting our hair on fire then?

    Not Sure; thanks for keeping it real with you well researched counterpoints and links.

    (Edited..off topic)

    (Response: BIG difference now: Trudeau/Libs now lead a minority government and have enough support from NDP/Bloc to push it through. The Supreme Court of Canada should be made up of Canada’s best LEGAL minds … regardless of whether they are only fluent enough to hear legal arguments in either English or French. h.o)

  20. BMCQ says:

    (Edited…getting way off topic …which is Trudeau on Supreme Court appointments.)

    Let’s face it, as has been mentioned already he benefits from a complicit and compliant media, a Conservative Party who seem to have their own Leadership problems, an NDP which is now a “Rump of a Party” the NDP Leader who is totally incompetent but still supporting the Liberal Government hoping that once his party is decimated in the polarization of the next whenever that might be PM Justin will offer him a Prime cabinet Post in the newly formed “Liberal Democratic Party of Canada” .

    Bottom line here is the fact that there is absolutely “NO” accountability for the Federal Liberal government and the PM .

    We as Canadians need more than just Harvey and a handful others bringing up the obscure but very important stories, ALL of these stories have a very profound affect on the future of canada, Canadians, and our families going forward .

    Politicians no matter what the Brand cannot be trusted, we need to have a media that works to inform us but at the same time act as a “Watch Dog”, it is up to media to dig up the stories and then the voter acts accordingly .

    (Edited..off topic)

    We must never trust a politician, trust to a degree but verify to be sure . That is the job and responsibility of media, we need them now more than ever before . Yes, they did a good job on the stories I just mentioned but where the Hell are they on so many more important stories ?

    I frankly do not think ANY changes politicians plan to make is a “Nothing Burger” anything they do at any level of government affects our future, NOTHING is too small, it is ALL important, we at least need the reports so we can them make informed decisions when voting .

  21. Not Sure says:

    Man I suck at this. I tried to make the point that we needn’t get agitated as the legislation hadn’t been introduced yet and perhaps that’s why the media isn’t covering the story at the level some of you want, and people get more agitated.

    As penance I will research the other side.

    Here is an interesting one. The author admits that bilingual judges would be good, but he also points out that it may limit the future diversity of the court. (That is my biggest concern. I still don’t believe this is any kind of attack on the unilingual west.) But the interesting part which I admit to not fully understanding because I am not a lawyer is the unconstitutionality of the proposal and how the government once again seems to be circumventing the AG.
    https://nationalpost.com/opinion/gerard-kennedy-trudeau-liberals-go-around-attorney-general-again-this-time-over-bilingualism

    And here is one on the diversity theme from a July 2019 Macleans.
    https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/the-glaring-omission-on-the-supreme-court/

    See there are negative stories out there. But that doesn’t mean the opposing view is “typical Eastern Canadian politically correct muck”. Is “just more whining from the anti-French west” a helpful response?

    And there’s more (Sorry Harvey but this topic is complicated.) Here is a summary of a longer paper about the entire federal judicial system (not just the supreme court) as it relates to bilingualism. I admit to not reading the longer paper.

    https://hillnotes.ca/2021/02/22/executive-summary-bilingualism-in-canadas-court-system-the-role-of-the-federal-government/

    “The rules governing bilingualism in the Canadian court system will continue to evolve in the years to come in response to case law, legislative changes and changing attitudes within Canadian society. The debates on the modernization of the Official Languages Act – a bill to achieve this end is slated to be tabled by the end of the 43rd Parliament – will be an opportunity to debate these issues.

    https://hillnotes.ca/2021/02/22/executive-summary-bilingualism-in-canadas-court-system-the-role-of-the-federal-government/

    Slated to be tabled? What if there is a spring election? A fall election? If it has been tabled by the fall and an election is called, then it will die and have to be reintroduced and only if the Liberals win. There is still plenty of time to discuss this.

    Anyway Harvey, between covid giving me free time and you taking positions that I need to research I am now more informed about Indigenous health, the Passenger Vessels Service Act, and now federal judges. (I’ll take things I never thought I would care about for $200). Hell I even know the names of three Canadian Supreme Court justices! A week ago I knew ZERO while off the top of my head I can name 6 American justices.

    Gotta thank you for that.

    (Response: Always happy to help educate. Also I find your reference above “it may limit the future diversity of the court. (That is my biggest concern” quite legitimate. I also believe that an indirect consequence of the FLUENTLY bilingual requirement would be give an unspoken but real advantage to second-generation (and older) judges from European, white backgrounds and discriminate against first or even second generation judges from Asian, Hispanic, Philipino, Arab etc. family backgrounds. It’s hard enough for new Canadians and their kids to become fully fluent in one official language, in addition to the maternal or paternal tongue and then reach the levels required for becoming lawyers and then even judges. Expecting them to become so totally fluent in a SECOND official language as well, before even being considered for a SCOC appointment is not so subtly discriminatory at best. What the Court … and Canadians … need are Canada’s BEST, UNBIASED, EXPERIENCED legal minds … period! The expert translators at the Court have made it function so well, I can NEVER recall the issue ever being raised as a “problem”. It’s politics … with Trudeau’s prime motivations just being to win votes among francophones AND trying to pin O’Toole/Tories in a corner if they oppose his move. h.o)

  22. Not Sure says:

    Not to belabour this Harvey but are you now saying that your headline should change from

    Trudeau To Eliminate MOST Western Canadian Judges from Qualifying for Supreme Court

    to MOST Ethnic Minority Judges

    And while I do consider that my main reason for questioning this policy change, I am not even sure of how big an issue that might be.

    A good friend growing up was second generation Chinese who resisted his parents desire for him to go to Saturday Chinese school when he was a kid. He is not functionally literate in Chinese. But his wife is. As are his daughters, one of whom is a French Immersion teacher of all things. I doubt that she is unique.

    Lastly Harvey, I am not even sure if you can use this argument.

    What the Court … and Canadians … need are Canada’s BEST, UNBIASED, EXPERIENCED legal minds … period!

    First of all, how does one even determine which of the highly qualified judges that the selection committee comes up with is THE best? And what if it turns out that the nine best are all men or all women or all French or all English or all from Ontario.

    Speculation: A Supreme Court justice has to be picked by July. My guess is that the person will be a bilingual woman from Ontario and most likely from an ethnic (likely visible) minority. The person retiring was Canada’s first justice with a Jewish and refugee background.

    I’m going to kill at the next game of Trivial Pursuit.

    (Response: No. MOST means MOST … of every kind. But especially hard hit by the new edict will be lawyers, judges from minorities whose families haven’t been here 50 to 100 years or more… and just learning one of Canada’s official languages, in addition to their own native language, well enough to understand complex legal issues and concepts should be enough if they are outstanding in their field and deserved of a SCOC post. h.o)

  23. 13 says:

    Morning Harvey. I wrote to my Conservative MP about 3 issues including the French language problem. Ive read and reread his response and to tell you the truth Im not sure he understands the down range problems. Ive copied you his letter .

    (Response: Morning. Thanks for writing your MP. I’ve heard that politicians/strategists regard every letter they receive as representing the views of thousands of others as well. And appreciate your okay privately to post your MP Mark Strahl’s response to you. Here’s what Strahl wrote with regard to the Supreme Court: “With respect to the selection of Supreme Court justices, it is the Prime Minister of Canada’s prerogative to name Supreme Court justices in whichever fashion he deems appropriate. Our previous Conservative government appointed judges according to merit and legal excellence and have urged the Prime Minister to continue with the longstanding conventions in selecting Supreme Court justices.” The Tories should take up the cause of “merit and legal excellence” over FULL bilingualism requirement: I believe it would be a winner, even among unilingual francophones. h.o)

  24. HARRY LAWSON says:

    Harvey,

    lets look at this as pandering as its best , Where to start,

    if the courts cannot have effective simultaneous translation , how can the the parliamentarians have effective simultaneous translations and enact law ? so is the next step only bilingual can run for parliament .

    lets get real this is a pandering smoke screen from a government on the ropes.

    (Response: Good point: ” if the courts cannot have effective simultaneous translation , how can the the parliamentarians have effective simultaneous translations and enact law ?” I wish someone in the media had the gonads to ask Trudeau/Libs/NDP/Bloc/Greens about that!! It’s pandering, vote-buying, even discriminatory and racist …yet seems destined to be rammed through because the Tories are too timid to call it out for what it is. Standing up BOLDLY against Trudeau’s proposal could WIN O’Toole/Tories more votes across the country than they would lose. h.o)

  25. Not Sure says:

    I think it is my natural curiosity about certain topics and maybe an extra dose of curiosity on how people think that has me posting. Sorry about that.

    Mark Strahl’s hedged response to 13 got me curious. What long standing conventions did the conservatives follow? Couldn’t find anything but here is the selection process that the current government follows. You can click on other links for more detail but I didn’t except to see who was on the selection committee. Kim Campbell was the only name I recognized and she is the chair.

    https://www.fja-cmf.gc.ca/scc-csc/2021/index-eng.html

    “Under the process used for the first time in 2016, an independent and non-partisan Advisory Board, will again be given the task of identifying suitable candidates who are jurists of the highest calibre, are functionally bilingual, and are representative of the diversity of Canada.”

    highest calibre – no problem? even though it says of the highest quality not THE highest quality and what I mean by that is how do you determine which judge is actually THE best. How do we know that the Canucks picked THE best coach or my school board picked THE best superintendent or BMCQ picked THE best floor manager or whatever. There are plenty of subjective factors going into a selection process. As long as they picked someone of the highest calibre are we good to go?

    representative of Canada’s diversity – no problem? even though “In recognition of the convention of regional representation, this process will be open to candidates from the province of Ontario.” That’s because the person retiring is from Ontario but how do we know that there isn’t a better person from Saskatchewan or Nova Scotia? And the person being replaced is a woman. The court right now is divided 5 males 4 females. I am guessing that the person selected will be a woman because I can’t imagine them dropping to 6-3. The person being replaced is of Jewish descent. I am guessing the person selected will not be a white European. I know diversity is a touchy subject for some but as long as the jurist is of the highest calibre are we still good to go?

    That leaves functionally bilingual. Whatever functional means. I read of a case (yup I am too curious) where one judge was struggling with the topic even with the translation. She wanted to ask a question but didn’t know how to express herself. Finally the lawyer who was astute enough to see her struggle told her to ask the question in English. I read somewhere else (definitely too curious) where the chief justice had to ask a lawyer to slow down because the instant translation isn’t completely instant and some jurists weren’t able to keep up. Not Sure how fast he was talking but it wasn’t bothering the bilingual judges.

    So I am fine with the process.

    But… Having said all that, there may be a problem. Indigenous people are not represented very well in the judicial system – the whole system top to bottom, not just the Supreme Court. Here is an interesting take on it (if you are curious).

    http://www.slaw.ca/2020/03/09/harry-laforme-on-failure-to-appoint-indigenous-judges/

    “The need to appoint indigenous judges is evident at every level. Even the Supreme Court could open itself up to indigenous judges in its proceedings involving indigenous law. The number 9 is not sacrosanct nor is the requirement to have bilingual judges hear every case, although it may be preferred. One option is to increase the number of judges, on a permanent or temporary basis, and increase the use of panels of judges to hear cases.”

    Maybe our discussion here is too narrow. Maybe there are solutions that can satisfy everybody. Hopefully our politicians can figure that out.

  26. SG says:

    You’d think with Trudeau’s quest to be the poster-boy for all things politically correct and “woke” that he’d ban French altogether… There’s just no way around masculine and feminine nouns in the French language, whereas English can be completely gender neutral if one try’s hard enough….. (my attempt at being devils advocate)

  27. BMCQ says:

    I suppose we could manufacture an argument to any of this by stating that no matter who happens to be the Government of Canada the Liberals or the Conservatives Politics all too often influences 99% of the decisions made, especially appointments of any kind .

    The biggest problem to me might be the fact that when you have someone at the top who happens to be a Canadian PM who is painfully and obviously “Not a Ready for Prime Time Player” like PM Justin those decisions being correct or even close to correct become problematic and all of a sudden those decisions of who and why to appoint to important decisions have a much greater “Degree of Difficulty” . “Hello Governor General Payette” just to name one that comes quick to mind that will cost the Canadian Taqx Payer $ Millions of Dollars before she is done .

    I am not necessarily changing my mind on this, I support Harvey’s position but do we indeed create an “Uneven Politicized Playing Field” by ensuring that their is a “Quota” by appointing Federal Supreme Court Judges based on the Region they are from/reside .

    What if over say ten years there was to be 8 retirees from the supreme Court and the top 6 Candidates happen to be from Ontario, and Quebec, what would we do ? What if the top 6 candidates happened to be from the west and they only spoke English and mandarin ?

    IMHO like everything else in Canada good or bad the appointment of Supreme Court Judges ALL comes down to “Politics” !!

    Yes, then there is the question that was just asked, what do we/the PM and his Cabinet
    use as a “Measuring stick” how do they Judge ?

    Yes, it will all come down to politics and the Liberal Government and the PM will not race any meaningful challenge whatsoever .

    And so it goes on and on, I pity the poor Tax Payer .

  28. e.a.f. says:

    BMCQ puts out a very good point regarding who might be the best judges in 10 yrs. Yes, English and Mandarin. or for some it might be Ukranian and English or French and sign language.
    In my opinion language doesn’t really matter because we have first rate translation services. Its no big deal to wear those head sets and listen. I’ve done it over the years and it works like a hot dam.

    I do recall when Harper was attempting to appoint a Supreme Court Judge, he got it wrong because the person was supposed to have knowledge of maritime law and his candidate didn’t. that is when some got a tad out of shape that Beverly Mclaughan noticed that. I’m not sure what specialities might be required for being on the court such as one judge being an expert in Martime law, but if that were to be the case, then to add in the mix of language, give me a break. That court ought to have the best legal minds and qualities like fairness and impartiality.

    Trudeau needs to back off with this one. Wonder if his decision can be challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada? It would be funny, if the Court had to hear a case like that.

    and yes BMCQ, you are correct about appointments being all pretty much about politics. We need look no further than say the IRB.

    (Response: Trudeau will not back off because most of the English language media are letting him get away with it …once more far too complacent and compliant. Most have said/done LITTLE to even cover the story and NOTHING to defend the rights of the majority of Canadians in the face of this vote-buying Liberal scheme pandering to francophones. The Supreme Court handles questions that shape the entire future of the country: its members MUST be the best legal minds Canada has to offer … regardless of whether they are unilingual English OR French!! Translation works in the Commons exceedingly well; translation has worked at the Supreme Court exceedingly well for many decades: no reason to throw away something that isn’t broken …just to help Trudeau win seats. h.o)

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