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Indigenous Bar Association Expresses Its Disappointment with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Failure to Nominate an Indigenous Candidate to the Supreme Court of Canada

by ahnationtalk on October 18, 2016966 Views

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October 18, 2016

INDIGENOUS BAR ASSOCIATION EXPRESSES ITS DISAPPOINTMENT WITH PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU’S FAILURE TO NOMINATE AN INDIGENOUS CANDIDATE TO THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA

Ottawa, Ontario –

With a promise to work with Indigenous Peoples on a nation-to-nation basis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau missed an important and meaningful milestone by failing to nominate an Indigenous candidate to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Liberals have touted their “new” approach for making appointments to the Court as being more accessible and fair. Further, given the Atlantic Provinces’ ongoing refusal to appoint Indigenous People to the very bench from which the nominee was drawn, suggests Trudeau is offering a reward for exclusion and the Court continues to look precisely how it has for decades.

On August 2, 2016, the Government of Canada announced the creation of an independent non-partisan advisory board to submit a short list of names of individuals for consideration by the Prime Minister. The Independent Advisory Board was mandated to recommend qualified, functionally bilingual candidates who reflect a diversity of backgrounds and experiences for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Notwithstanding the ever moving barriers – including those added by the current Government – there are a number of qualified Indigenous candidates.

The result is that on October 18, 2016 Justice Malcolm Rowe of Newfoundland, is the Liberal nominee to the Supreme Court of Canada. The IBA congratulates Mr. Justice Rowe on his nomination and recognizes it is an historic and positive decision for Atlantic Canadians. Yet, “the ongoing exclusion of Indigenous Justices on the Supreme Court, which is being met with a shrugging of the shoulders, and indeed all levels of courts in Canada, demonstrates a lack of commitment on the part of the Government to diversity and to transforming Canada’s legal system as part of the reconciliation process,” said Koren Lightning-Earle, President of the Indigenous Bar Association.

In its final report, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission called for the transformation of Canada’s legal system through greater inclusion of Indigenous Peoples:

A commitment to truth and reconciliation demands that Canada’s legal system be transformed. It must ensure that Aboriginal peoples have greater ownership of, participation in, and access to its central driving forces. Canada’s constitution must become truly a constitution for all of Canada. Aboriginal peoples need to become the law’s architects and interpreters… (Vol. 6, p. 51)

The Indigenous Bar Association and the Government of Canada have publicly endorsed the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and committed to the implementation of all “calls to action”. While the IBA continues to seek implementation of the TRC’s work, Canada continues to stall and maintain the status quo.

The IBA will continue to advocate for the inclusion of Indigenous candidates at all levels of Court, including the Supreme Court.  Indigenous legal traditions have survived in spite of attempts to banish, assimilate and suppress. This failure on the part of the Liberals is particularly notable because after all, it’s 2016.

For further information please contact: Koren Lightning-Earle, President at (780) 721-2345 or via email klightning-earle@indigenousbar.ca.

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