Response of the Government of Canada to the Report of the 2003 Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission

4. Conclusion

It is ultimately for Parliament and not the Government to decide whether the Commission recommendation, the Government’s proposal or some other salary increase is to be established. This remains Parliament’s function under s. 100 of the Constitution Act, 1867. The Government calls on all parliamentarians to assume and carefully discharge their important constitutional responsibilities in light of the constitutional and statutory principles that are engaged. In the current circumstances in which implementation has been delayed for a number of reasons, however legitimate, it is of critical importance that we move forward with all possible dispatch to complete the 2003 Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission process, so that planning can begin for the next quadrennial process in September, 2007. We will therefore immediatey move to introduce the necessary proposals to amend the Judges Act and refer the matter to Committee for immediate consideration. We call on all parties to agree to make this Bill a priority so that our constitutional duty to address this issue with necessary dispatch is honoured. The integrity of the process requires no less.

As the Supreme Court of Canada recognized in Bodner37, respect for the integrity of the Commission process is key to ensuring public confidence in the independence and objectiveness of the process, and as a result, confidence in the independence and impartiality of our judiciary. The effectiveness of the Commission is not in our view measured by whether all its recommendations are implemented unchanged, but rather by whether it played a central role in informing the ultimate determination of judicial compensation.

In its deliberations on this matter, the Government has both relied on and responded to the central role played by the Commission in the establishment of judicial compensation. The Commission’s work and guidance, informed by the case law and the relevant statutory criteria, has been critical in the Government’s deliberations. Even more importantly, it will be critical to Parliament as it engages in its s. 100 constitutional functions.

The Government looks forward to participating in the consideration of the Commission Report in Parliament and particularly in the Commons Justice and Human Rights Committee in what we anticipates will be an informed and respectful deliberation of the Government’s response. This will be an important opportunity for Parliamentarians and the public to hear from the Commissioners and others with respect to the evidence and the analysis that has gone into all of the Commission’s recommendations, including the salary proposal. This will enable Canadians to better understand the unique context of judicial office, as well as to more fully appreciate the basis and justification that are ultimately provided for the proposals that are finally accepted and implemented by Parliament.

[37] Bodner , para. 38 and generally.