Ms. Brun’s letter of October 30, 2017, addressed to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and respecting the present judicial shortage in British Columbia, gained substantial traction. Ms. Brun was interviewed by Mr. Keith Fraser, reporter for the Vancouver Sun, and quoted in an article published online on December 22, 2017, and in print on December 23, 2017, which can be read here: http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-s-supreme-shortage-of-judges-courts-public-concern. More recently, Ms. Brun received the following personal response from The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P., on February 9, 2018, which is very much appreciated:
Dear Ms. Brun:
Thank you for your correspondence concerning judicial appointments to the British Columbia Supreme Court. I regret the delay in responding.
I am sensitive to the pressures being experienced in various courts across the country, and the additional pressures caused when courts have to operate with less than a full judicial complement. However, even while our Government made an initial 39 judicial appointments in 2016, we were convinced of the importance of implementing significant and long‑overdue reforms to the superior courts appointments process. To that end, on October 20, 2016, I was pleased to announce important measures to strengthen the selection process and the role of the Judicial Advisory Committees (JACs), which have the critical task of assessing applications and recommending candidates for appointment. These reforms supported our government’s goals of increasing transparency and accountability, and of promoting diversity, gender balance, and bilingualism on the bench, while continuing to ensure the appointment of outstanding jurists to Canada’s superior courts.
Time was required to implement the various reforms and some vacancies accumulated in the interim. I am pleased that the new JAC for British Columbia was among the first to be reconstituted in January 2017. Since then, there have been 100 judicial appointments and elevations under the new process overall, including 15 to British Columbia’s superior courts. The JACs continue their important work of reviewing and assessing applications, and we continue to encourage qualified candidates to apply through the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. As outstanding candidates continue to apply and be recommended by the JACs, I will be in a position to carry out my responsibility to recommend individuals for judicial appointment.
We know that appointing judges cannot address all the challenges facing the Canadian justice system. However, I do understand the frustration that you and your colleagues have experienced as a result of the situations you described in your letter, and that the greatest emotional toll is ultimately borne by your clients. While it is not easy to hear these stories, they do reaffirm my commitment to working towards ever greater access to Canada’s justice system. I can assure you that I will continue to work diligently to fill judicial vacancies in British Columbia and across Canada as I receive the JACs’ recommendations.
Thank you again for writing.
The Honourable Jody Wilson‑Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada