Chief Justice Expresses Concerns over Delay in Supreme Court Vacancy

Addressing the audience at the Canadian Bar Association’s annual conference in Ottawa, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin expressed concerns about the delay in filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada. She hoped that a new judge will be named as soon as possible. Chief Justice McLachlin made these remarks after the Liberal government promised to change the way Supreme Court justices are chosen in order to bring more accountability to the process and diversify the bench.

Justice Thomas Cromwell of Nova Scotia, who announced his retirement in March, is set to leave the Supreme Court on Sept. 1. The government has set up an independent seven-member advisory board, chaired by former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, which has been tasked to recommend list of candidates to replace him. Although traditionally, the new judge from a particular region replaces the previous one from the same part of Canada. However, things are likely to change this time around.

Chief Justice McLachlin mentioned on Thursday that “the court needs – and the Canadian people, I believe, are entitled to – a full complement of nine judges to decide the complex and important questions before it. I would be less than frank if I did not say that I am concerned about the length of time it has taken to fill this vacancy.” She added that “I remain hopeful that we will be able to welcome Justice Cromwell’s replacement, if not in time for the October sittings, at the earliest possible date this fall.”


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