Welcome from the President’s Desk

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the website of the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association (CSCJA).  Founded in 1979, the CSCJA represents nearly all federally-appointed judges in Canada.  Its objectives include protecting and enhancing judicial independence, giving judges a forum where they can meet and exchange on issues of common interest, contributing to the education of judges, the improvement of the administration of justice, and dealing with issues concerning the review of judicial conduct.

The CSCJA is governed by a Council composed of approximately 50 members from all Canadian provinces and territories.  It meets at least once a year, at the annual general meeting.  The CSCJA also has a Board of Directors composed of 19 Council members, which meet at least three times a year.

The Executive Committee of the CSCJA has five members. Meetings are held at least once each month by videoconference.  This year, I will be relying heavily on the collaboration of Vice President Joel Groves of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Treasurer Michèle Monast of the Quebec Superior Court, Secretary Mona Lynch of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and Past-President Thomas A. Heeney of the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario.  I preside at the Family Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick.

Also contributing to the work of the Association are the many judges from across the country who make up our various committees. [1].  These judges volunteer many hours of their personal time in pursuing the objectives of the Association.  Their work is essential to the proper functioning of the CSCJA and is most appreciated.

Judicial independence is the cornerstone of our justice system, since it enables the judicial branch to fulfill its role in an impartial manner, separate and independent from the other two branches of government, and free of any real or perceived influence by anyone.  It is a principle that must be jealously guarded and defended.  That is why one of the objectives of the CSCJA is to protect this independence by advocating against measures that would undermine it.  We have a committee that is entirely dedicated to this important task.

One component of judicial independence is financial security.  The CSCJA represents the interests of all Superior Court judges in Canada before the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission, through which recommendations are made to the Minister of Justice every four years with respect to judicial salaries and benefits.  On May 31st, 2020, the Government adopted the required Orders in Council confirming the appointments of the members and the Constitution of the Quadrennial Commission.  The Quadrennial Commission process was scheduled to start on June 1st, 2020.

Considering the uncertainty resulting from the global pandemic, a joint letter was sent by the Federal Judiciary and the Government to the Quadrennial Commission seeking a six-month postponement.  Consequently, the start date of the inquiry was changed to December 1st, 2020.  It was also agreed that the parties would revisit the question of the start date in early fall, to assess whether the December 1st, 2020 start date remains adequate.

The CSCJA has established a committee that will guide us in this very important process and they have already begun their important work.  Members of this committee will be investing many more hours of work in the months ahead.

The CSCJA is also actively engaged with the Canadian Judicial Council in the complaints review process.  We champion an equitable process for our members, which also protects the public interest and enables the maintenance of a competent and independent judiciary.  We are, at present, engaged in ongoing discussions with the CJC and the Department of Justice with a view to reforming and improving the current process.

In addition, the CSCJA helps develop public education programs aimed at enhancing the public’s understanding of a judge’s role and of the judicial system as a whole, and has recently released an excellent video dealing with judicial independence and the rule of law that is available on YouTube.  The Association also contributes toward improving the administration of justice in Canada through the efforts of the Access to Justice Committee.

On the international front, our members are deeply engaged, playing active leadership roles in organizations such as the International Association of Judges and the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association.  Membership in these organizations enables us to contribute actively to the promotion of the rule of law and judicial independence on a global scale and thereby assist the judiciary in less fortunate countries around the world, where such concepts are more aspirational than real.

The CSCJA also maintains a supplemental health care insurance plan for the benefit of its members that is unique in Canada.  Information about this plan is available on this website under the “Membership” menu item.

I close by thanking you for visiting our website.  I hope it will give you a better understanding of the Association and the efforts it makes on your behalf to maintain and enhance the role of judges in improving the administration of justice in Canada.  We welcome your support and your suggestions.

Thomas E. Cyr
President, 2020/2021

[1] Access to Justice Committee, Compensation Committee, Communications Committee, Judicial Independence Committee, Insurance Committee, International Relations Committee, Judicial Support Program Committee, Judicial Conduct Review Committee, Membership Committee, Planning Committee, Education Committee, Retired Judges Committee, Technology Committee.

Thomas E. Cyr