Meeting of the Continuing Committee of Ministers on the Constitution, Supreme Court, Statement by the Honourable Jean Chrétien (8-11 July 1980)
By: Jean Chrétien
Citation: Meeting of the Continuing Committee of Ministers on the Constitution, Supreme Court, Statement by the Honourable Jean Chrétien, Doc 830-81/013 (Montreal: 8-11 July 1980).
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DOCUMENT: 830-81/013 MEETING OF THE CONTINUING COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS ON THE CONSTITUTION SUPREME COURT
Statement by The Honourable Jean Chretien
Montreal, Quebec July 8-11, 1980
STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE JEAN CHRETIEN CONTINUING COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS ON THE CONSTITUTION SUPREME COURT
I would now like to open discussion on the Supreme Court.
The desirability of entrenching the Supreme Court in the Constitution is, I think, agreed by us all. It is appropriate that the Court be so entrenched and not owe its existence to, and be subject to change by, Parliament.
I understand that a considerable degree of consensus was reached in February, 1979 on this item and on the “best efforts draft”. The draft proposes: a nine-member Court; a requirement that the Minister of Justice consult with the Attorney General of the appropriate province when making an appointment to the Court; a requirement that three members of the Court be appointed from the Quebec bench or bar (as now required by section 6 of the Supreme Court Act); a requirement that cases concerning the civil law of Quebec be heard by a special panel of the Court composed of a majority of Quebec judges.
In addition to provisions dealing specifically with the Supreme Court, there is a section which would allow county, superior and district court judges to be “borrowed” by a province from another in order to facilitate the holding of court cases in either official language (the B.N.A. Act now prevents such “borrowing”).
The “best efforts draft” is still acceptable to the federal government. It is the product of the extensive federal-provincial negotiations between October 1978 and February, 1979. And in our view, those negotiations resulted in a draft which is clear, concise and appropriate for a constitution.