The Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee was formed in 1988, and the Justices of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee, in 2007. These committees operate independently of the Ontario Court of Justice. As a convenience, information about their procedures and their work are included here.
Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee
In 1988, Attorney General Ian Scott announced a three-year pilot project to try a different model of appointment for Provincial Court Judges. The Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) began its work under the chairmanship of Professor Peter Russell with a mandate: First, to develop and recommend comprehensive, sound and useful criteria for selection of appointments to the judiciary, ensuring that the best candidates are considered; and, second, to interview applicants selected by it or referred to it by the Attorney General and make recommendations.
Between 1990 and 1995, the size of the pilot committee grew from 9 to 13 persons and the committee worked at developing criteria and procedures which were reviewed, refined and eventually publicized. In 1992, under the chairmanship initially of Professor Emily Carasco and then Associate Chief Judge Robert Walmsley, the Committee issued a Final Report and prepared recommendations for draft legislation to ensure that judges in future will be appointed by a process independent of political considerations.
JAAC was formally established on February 28, 1995 by proclamation of the Courts of Justice Act amendment passed in 1994.
The Committee began a programme of public information to tell interested people how the appointment system works.
In 2021, amendments were made to the legislation, including increasing the minimum number of candidates to be recommended for a judicial vacancy from two to six. Additionally, if a similar vacancy arises within 12 months after a recommendation, the Committee is required to provide a recommendation based on the previous recruitment instead of advertising the vacancy. The Attorney General now appoints the three lawyer members of JAAC from lists of three names submitted by the three law associations. Previously, these law associations appointed their own representatives.
The Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee is required to provide the Legislature with an annual report. The 2021 legislative amendments require the Committee to include diversity statistics in its annual reports, based on data voluntarily disclosed by candidates.
Who Should Apply?
To qualify for consideration, applicants must have at least 10 years membership at the Bar in one of the provinces or territories of Canada. Applicants must have a sound knowledge of the law, an understanding of the social issues of the day and an appreciation for the cultural diversity of Ontario.
While courtroom experience is a distinct asset, the Committee also considers suitable candidates whose experience includes work with administrative tribunals, academia and in the social policy field.
Applications are encouraged from women, Indigenous peoples, francophones, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2, and visible and ethnocultural minorities.
Applicants with Errors and Omissions claims or complaints on file with the Law Society of Ontario or any other Society are generally not considered until such claims have been cleared. The candidate is responsible for ensuring the removal of such claims or complaints; however, if the Committee receives sufficient information as to the claim or complaint being frivolous or lacking in foundation, then such a claim or complaint will not be a bar to the candidate being considered and interviewed, but the candidate will not be recommended until it has been removed.
Applicants who are involved in civil claims or proceedings may be considered if the Committee is of the opinion that the nature of such a claim does not prevent the candidate from being considered.
The Committee must be informed of any outstanding civil judgments, arrears in family support payments and any past or present proposals to creditors or assignments in bankruptcy.
Generally, the Committee does not consider a candidate who has been convicted of a criminal offence for which the candidate has not received a record suspension.
Vacancies on the Bench are advertised on the Ontario Courts website as the need arises. Candidates must submit a prescribed application form. These applications are reviewed by the Committee and a short list is prepared. The Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee meets to select candidates for interviews from the short list.
After reference checks, confidential inquiries and interviews, the Committee sends a ranked list of its recommendations to the Attorney General, who is required to make the appointment from that list.
Composition of the Committee
The Legislation requires the composition of the Committee to reflect the diversity of Ontario’s population, including gender, geography, racial and cultural minorities. In addition to seven (7) lay members who are appointed by the Attorney General, two (2) judges are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, one (1) member is appointed by the Ontario Judicial Council and three (3) from the legal community are appointed by the Attorney General from lists of three names submitted by the Law Society of Ontario, Ontario Bar Association and the Federation of Ontario Law Associations, respectively. All members serve for a term of three (3) years and may be re-appointed.
The selection process, including the application form, is treated with total confidentiality.
The Committee is independent of the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Government.
Committee members are available to speak to your organization about the Committee and the selection process. Requests for presentations should be forwarded to JAAC@ontario.ca.