Sunday, May 16, 2010

Alberta Doesn't Need Affirmative Action To Get Judges On Supreme Court

This gal says they've plenty of bilingual judges. Plenty! So enough belly-aching. Any law students out West with Supreme Court ambitions: take extra French classes and lay off the keg parties.

13 comments:

Gallahad said...

"Alberta Judges embrace Bilingualism"

How many judges in Alberta are going to end up being tarred and feathered?

Gayle said...

Woman. She is married to another fluently bilingual lawyer.

And please stop talking about this as though it is about lawyers who will not be appointed. I know lots of lawyers, and I have yet to hear a single one of them lament the fact they will not be appointed to the SCC now. Lawyers know full well that their chances of being appointed to the SCC are slightly greater than their chance of winning 40 million in the lottery. The lawyers I know who have concerns are only concerned about ensuring the best legal minds are appointed. Apparently there is some concern about the quality of the judges and lawyers who are bilingual - at least in Edmonton.

And while I admire Shannon, and know her to have a good reputation amongst her colleagues, the fact is there are still many more judges and lawyers who are unilingual than bilingual. The program she refers to exists amongst the criminal court only, and I believe most of the cases heard at the SCC level are not criminal.

Blair said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blair said...

Above all else I keep wondering what the point of this bill is. The Supreme Court isn't broken; why fix it?

If Mulroney and Trudeau, both champions of bilingualism, decided to keep the supreme court unilingual then perhaps they had something going there.

My western animosity towards moves that appease Quebec at the potential detriment to good old ROC aside, this bill is totally pointless. Right now our Supreme Court has our 8 greatest legal minds. 7 of those greatest minds wouldn't be sitting on that court today. That's reality. All in the name of a symbolic move for Quebecers.

So all telling Western Canadians to learn French aside, what is the point of this bill. Why tamper with it beyond gaining some political traction in la belle province?

As a final note, I'd be curious to know the actual number of judges who are fluent in French in Alberta. There are 229 total in the province.

Blair said...

http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/ndp-mp-behind-ant-western-canada-move/

Harvey does a good job of expressing the problems that Westerners see with this. He was raised in Montreal and has lived in Quebec, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Ontario. I think he offers a decent perspective.

Of course I totally agree with him, so I'm super biased.

Gayle said...

"Apparently there is some concern about the quality of the judges and lawyers who are bilingual - at least in Edmonton."

Hmmm, that sounds kind of bad. What I mean is that just because a judge or lawyer is bilingual, it does not mean that person has the expertise necessary for an SCC appointment. The very fact there are only 9 SCC justices, who are chosen from thousands of lawyers and judges in this country should tell you that the qualities sought for such an appointment are very rare. I maintain that legal expertise is more important than being bilingual.

Holly Stick said...

"...Mrs. L’Heureux-Dubé notes that that during the judges’ deliberations, no interpreter is present, and the presence of a unilingual judge at the table forces everyone else to defend their point of view in his or her language, most often English..."

http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/04/28/a-bilingual-supreme-court-cest-pas-si-simple/

rabbit said...

Francophones by province:

B.C. 1.3%
Alberta 2.1%
Saskatchewan 1.7%
Manitoba 4%

Houston, we have a problem.

The French language is pretty much irrelevant in Western Canada. Cantonese is vastly more useful. To demand that justices be fluent in French is to limit the pool to a tiny fraction of all western Canadians, and is unbecessary for the day-to-day duties of the job.

Shiner said...

To demand that justices be fluent in French is to limit the pool to a tiny fraction of all western Canadians, and is unbecessary for the day-to-day duties of the job.

I agree, the pool should include the vast majority of westerners... it's too early in the week for this kind of stupid.

rabbit said...

Shiner:

Thank you for that profound and incisive addition to the debate. Canada is a better place for your input.

Moron.

lance said...

Well, the fact that the Constitution requires that three of the nine SCC justices originate from the province of Quebec tells me that French is already over-represented in the SCC.

Gayle said...

Not at all lance.

Quebec has a different legal system than the rest of the country. They use the civil law system and we use the common law system. Thus it is necessary to ensure there are sufficient SCC judges who are trained in the Quebec legal system.

Blair said...

Wouldn't it make more sense to require all supreme court judges to understand both legal systems then? I would guess there aren't very many common law cases which are heard in French as there are very few unilingual Francophones outside of Quebec.

Presumably all of the Quebec judges would speak French already, no?