New Brunswick

Supreme Court justices bilingualism requirement welcomed by former MP

Former New Brunswick MP Yvon Godin is calling on Ottawa to go further with a new process announced Tuesday for appointing judges to the Supreme Court.

Yvon Godin wants to see changes made law

Former New Brunswick MP Yvon Godin pushed to have bilingual justices during his 18 years in Parliament. (Radio-Canada)

A former New Brunswick MP is praising Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the new selection process for Supreme Court of Canada justices that will require bilingualism.

But Yvon Godin, who served as the NDP MP for Acadie-Bathurst for many years, says he wants to see the initiative go further.

"We have our country recognized as a bilingual country. And the highest court of our country, not to have the judges be bilingual is nonsense,"he said. 

"The only thing is, I will hope that Mr. Trudeau will come out with a law to make sure that it doesn't come back again."

On Tuesday, Trudeau announced any qualified Canadian lawyer or judge who is functionally bilingual and "representative of the diversity of the country," can apply for the top court.

Godin says he pushed for a bilingualism requirement during his 18 years in Parliament, bringing forward a bill three times.

Former prime minister Kim Campbell will chair the new independent advisory board that will recommend candidates. The board will submit a short list of three to five individuals for consideration. However, their recommendations are non-binding.

The national composition of the selection committee — and its mandate to search across the land for a new justice — has some observers in Atlantic Canada concerned the region could lose the spot on the top court traditionally reserved for their region.

Justice Thomas Cromwell, a Nova Scotian and the only justice from the Atlantic provinces, will retire from the bench in September, which leaves a hole in the court's regional composition.

The Prime Minister's Office confirmed Tuesday that there is no guarantee that Cromwell's seat will go to someone from the region.