Mandate And Powers

Parliament created the Canadian Judicial Council in 1971. The objectives of the Council, as mandated by the Judges Act, are to promote efficiency, uniformity, and accountability, and to improve the quality of judicial service in all superior courts of Canada. The Council has authority over the work of more than 1,100 federally appointed judges.

How does the Council work?

The Canadian Judicial Council itself is made up of 39 members and is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin. Council membership consists of the chief justices, associate chief justices, and some senior judges from provincial and federal superior courts across the country.

The chief justices of each province are responsible for the day-to-day administration of justice within their own jurisdictions across Canada. Full meetings more than twice a year would be impossible, so the Council’s committee system allows members to work on a regular basis in smaller groups that focus on the issues that affect Canada’s justice system. Some committees are permanent, standing committees; others are formed from time to time to deal with specific issues or projects.

What powers does the Council have?

Canadians rightly demand a high degree of professionalism and good conduct from their judges. They also need judges who are independent and able to give judgments in court without fear of retaliation or punishment. To help achieve this goal, the Canadian Judicial Council was granted power under the Judges Act to investigate complaints made by members of the public and the Attorney General about the conduct (not the decisions) of federally appointed judges. After its investigation of a complaint, the Council can make recommendations, including removing a judge from office.

The Council has authority over the work of more than 1,100 federally appointed judges in Canada. Its main purpose is to set policies and provide tools that help the judicial system remain efficient, uniform, and accountable. The Council’s powers are set out in Part II of the Judges Act.