Government bill to address judicial misconduct advances in Senate
Bill S-3 proposes to amend the Judges Act.
A Government bill that aims to strengthen the process for handling complaints against federally appointed judges advanced to second reading in the Senate on Tuesday.
Bill S-3 proposes the first major changes on how to deal with complaints since the process was established 50 years ago. The overarching goal is for a fair and timely process that will increase Canadians’ trust the judicial system.
Changes include streamlining the process for more serious complaints of misconduct – which could warrant a judge’s removal from office – to limit how costly and time-consuming it can be to reach an outcome.
The legislation also imposes mandatory sanctions, such as continuing education, counselling and reprimands, in the cases of misconduct that are not serious enough to warrant removal from office.
Additionally, the Canadian Judicial Council, responsible for administering the process, would be required under the new law to detail the number of complaints and their outcome in its annual public report.
The proposed changes were informed by public consultations conducted in 2016, and they maintain the important principle of judicial independence.
Legislation proposing the same measures was introduced in the Senate this past spring and was at second reading when the previous Parliament dissolved.