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Editorial: Vacancies, again

A proactive cabinet shuffle may be a smart move, but some burrs remain in the side of the federal government. The Canadian Bar Association kicked off 2017 by calling on Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould to accelerate the hiring of judges, classifying the issue as “an acute access to justice problem.”

“The government has promised to move as quickly as possible to fill existing vacancies,” said a CBA news release. “However, several provinces have identified the need for new judicial positions that have yet to be approved by Ottawa.”

As of early 2017, there were 57 vacancies for federally appointed judges across Canada.

“It makes it very difficult to get to court, either criminally or civilly,” says René Basque, the CBA’s president.

According to a federal website, there are seven vacancies at Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench and eight at the Supreme Court of British Columbia. There are also nine vacancies at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and six at the Superior Court of Québec.

A spokeswoman for Wilson-Raybould said judicial advisory committees “in the critical jurisdictions will be constituted in very short order.” Change is apparently coming — but first, there is process.

“Since Oct. 20, 2016, the commissioner has received hundreds of judicial applications,” she said.

“All judicial applicants who had applied prior to the implementation of the new process have had to reapply. The applications will be considered by the Judicial Advisory Committees once constituted.”

The CBA, and its members, will no doubt be waiting for news.

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