Yavar Hameed, principle lawyer at Hameed Law, has filed an application in Federal Court to compel the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice to appoint judges to the superior courts across Canada.
This comes on the heels of Chief Justice Wagner’s public criticism of the government’s delays in appointing judges. The Chief Justice said, in a May 3, 2023, letter, that the current situation is untenable and he fears it will result in a crisis for our justice system. The Chief Justice said that without concrete efforts to remedy the situation, we will very soon reach a point of no return. The lack of judges translates into additional delays in hearing cases and rendering judgments. Chief justices report that as judges are overworked, delays in setting cases are unavoidable and hearings have to be postponed or adjourned.
We have seen the harm in our own practice. Trials are being cancelled, judges’ mental health is at risk, and violent criminal offence charges are stayed because of lack of judges. This hurts everyone, especially the most vulnerable. Without judges, there is no justice. Without justice, those with power are free to trample those without.
The government has a duty to appoint judges under s. 96 of The Constitution Act, 1867, and s. 5.2 of the Federal Courts Act. Delays of months and years are unreasonable since judges typically give six months notice before resigning or retiring, and the government has demonstrated its ability to fill positions in as little as three days after a position becomes vacant. As the Chief Justice said, in this context, delays in appointments send a signal that they are simply not a priority for the government.
You can read the notice of application here.