"Welcome from the President's Desk"
I am very pleased to welcome you to the website for the Canadian Superior Court Judges Association. The CSCJA is a 38-year tradition, stemming from the former Canadian Judges Conference founded in 1979. The Association honours a mandate to protect and enhance judicial independence, provide continuing education for judges, improve the administration of justice, and promote public understanding of the role judges play in the justice system. Although membership in the Association is not mandatory for federally appointed judges, about 95% recognize the value of the Association by joining or renewing their membership each year.
The Association is governed by a Council composed of 51 members from across Canada and holds a general meeting of its members each year, usually in August. The Association’s activities are overseen by a 19-member Board of Directors, which meets at least three times each year, and by an Executive Committee, which generally holds monthly conference calls. This year, Past-President Marc Richard of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, Vice-President Terry Clackson of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta, Treasurer Julie Dutil of the Court of Appeal of Quebec and Thomas Heeney of the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario join me on the Executive Committee. We are most fortunate to have the benefit of services of our Executive Director, Frank McArdle who handles the day-to-day operations of the Association.
Although governance is important, the Association’s mandate could not be met but for the work of its several committees composed of judges from across the country. These judges volunteer many hours of their time in pursuing the objectives of the Association. We would not be able to accomplish what we do without their important work.
Judicial independence is an essential component of any democratic system of government, for it is through the independence of its judges that the judicial branch is able to impartially fulfill its role. Judicial independence is a concept that is, unfortunately, not always well understood. It is a value that belongs to the people, not something that belongs to judges. However, judges must be vigilant that this value not be taken away or eroded, lest impartiality either be compromised or be perceived as compromised. As a result, the CSCJA protects this value by advocating against measures that would undermine it. One of the means of protecting judicial independence is by participating in a constitutionally mandated process 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. We have just completed this important process on behalf of the federal judiciary. Participation by the judiciary does not, however, by itself guarantee the integrity of the process. It is only through the good faith participation of all involved that the fundamental value of judicial independence can be safeguarded.
The CSCJA is actively engaged with the Canadian Judicial Council in the complaints review process. The Association champions a process that evolves toward one that is just and fair, and that protects the public interest in a virtuous and independent judiciary.
The CSCJA is also energetically involved in public education programs aimed at enhancing the public’s understanding of a judge’s role, and of the judicial process as a whole. The Association also strives to contribute toward enhancing the administration of justice in Canada through the efforts of its judicial independence and access to justice committees.
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 fosters a holistic approach to promoting the rule of law and judicial independence on a global scale.
I close by thanking you for visiting our website. I hope it gives you a better understanding of the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association and the efforts we make on your behalf to maintain and enhance the role of the judiciary for the better administration of justice in Canada.
Susan G. Himel