Friday, April 23, 2010

More on the 'Bilingual Supeme Court of Canada' Bill

Canadian Press reports on the legal community's reaction to Bill C-232, an Act to require that all future Supreme Court nominees be functionally bilingual:

Reviews from the legal community are scathing.

"Stupid," "scary," "ill-conceived" and "pandering" are just some of the adjectives used to describe New Brunswick MP Yvon Godin's proposal -- and those come from lawyers and jurists who believe the bill is actually well-intentioned.

"I think it's a bad idea; a very, very bad idea," said David Scott, a pre-eminent Ottawa lawyer who has represented federal commissions of inquiry, the Government of Canada and former prime minister Jean Chretien.

To reiterate my own views:

This vital judicial institution should not be compromised on the altar of feel-good politics.

The proposed amendment is a truly bad idea that should be dropped.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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Anonymous said...

Well, in English, the "altar" is where sacrifices are made, not the "alter". Clearly, words DO matter!
Your own statement, "vital judicial institution should not be compromised on the alter of feel-good politics" as written, is nonsense.

@wiselaw said...

Duly noted and corrected in the text.

Thank you, Anon, for your sharp spell-checking eye. I am glad to have you keeping a close watch on these things!

Garry J. Wise

Dennis Buchanan said...

James Morton blogged about this too, and made an interesting observation that bilingualism can help in statutory interpretation.

Which is a fair point. Every once in a very long while, there may be statutory nuances that a unilingual judge might overlook. He goes on to note, however, that national unity would be impaired by the exclusion of "many leading Western jurists". Also a fair point...though I think the national unity argument suffers the same flaws as those in favour of a bilingual Court. I think the more compelling argument is that the quality of the Court would be impaired by the exclusion of many leading Western jurists.

In terms of screening out candidates, do we really want the first and foremost screening device to be language? Shouldn't the composition of our top Court be determined through overall qualification to do the job properly, rather than putting an entirely disproportionate emphasis on one factor which happens to be politically correct?

<a href=">-DDB</a>

Comrade Okie said...

I posted part of this on Mr. Morton's site. Hope you don't mind the copy/paste.

We are used to "iniatives" like this one in New Brunswick. Mr. Godin is appealing to his base, making best efforts to appear relevant and ingratiate himself and his party. Making their mark so to speak.

Also furthering the ongoing reclamation and entrenchment project.


Even those of us who are of British ancestory for the most part, and do have a great appreciation for our New Brunswick Acadian population and their great contributions to our Province, and our Country, also appreciate the best possible representation in our National Institutions.

Hope my spelling passes muster.