Trudeau launches selection process for new Supreme Court of Canada justice in wake of Brown’s retirement

The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. Photo: Tom Carnegie/UnSplash

In a move to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Russell Brown, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initiated the process of selecting the next justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The opening of applications was announced June 20, with a deadline set for Friday, July 21, 2023.

To ensure a fair and impartial selection, a non-partisan Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments has been assigned the responsibility of identifying highly qualified candidates who possess exceptional legal expertise, are functionally bilingual, and reflect the diverse fabric of the nation.

Upon the conclusion of the application period, the Advisory Board will diligently review the submissions and present a shortlist of the most accomplished candidates to the Prime Minister for careful consideration.

Justice Russell Brown, who joined the Supreme Court of Canada in 2015, leaves behind a significant role to be filled. Acknowledging the importance of regional representation, the selection process will be open to all qualified applicants hailing from Western Canada and Northern Canada.

Prime Minister Trudeau emphasized the vital role played by the Supreme Court of Canada, stating, “The Supreme Court of Canada is the backbone of our country’s judicial system. Through our open, transparent, and independent appointment process, we are committed to ensuring the highest standards for Canada’s highest court.”

Key details

  • Qualified candidates interested in the vacancy must submit their application package no later than 23:59 Pacific Time on Friday, July 21, 2023.
  • Prospective applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the statutory requirements outlined in the Supreme Court Act, as well as the qualifications and assessment criteria that will guide the Advisory Board in evaluating their suitability.
  • Geographical eligibility can be demonstrated through bar membership, judicial appointments, or other connections to Western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) or Northern Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut).
  • The Supreme Court of Canada consists of nine judges, including the Chief Justice, who are all appointed by the Governor in Council. To be eligible, candidates must have either served as a judge in a superior court or been a member of the bar for a minimum of ten years.
  • In 2016, the Government of Canada implemented a new process for Supreme Court of Canada judicial appointments, which established an independent and non-partisan advisory board responsible for identifying qualified candidates.
  • The Chair and members of the Advisory Board will be announced in the upcoming weeks.
  • Notably, the Advisory Board includes a member nominated by the Indigenous Bar Association to support the Minister of Justice’s commitment to encouraging the appointment of more Indigenous Peoples to the judiciary.

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