Amendments to Nunavut’s Justice of the Peace Act not yet in force
“This act provides for a much improved appointment process”
The letter of Feb. 11 concerning Mr. Clark’s recent appointment as Nunavut’s senior justice of the peace raises the important issue of transparency in the process of judicial appointments.
I commend the author for raising this issue.
As has often been said, “Justice must not only be done, but must manifestly be seen to be done.” And it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that the doing of justice starts with the process of appointing qualified people to all positions responsible for the administration of justice.
At the time of Mr. Clark’s appointment as a justice of the peace and the senior justice of the peace, the Justices of the Peace Act contained only two qualifications for appointment: the appointee have attained the age of 19 years and be a resident of Nunavut for at least six months.
The appointment of the senior justice of the peace was by the commissioner on the recommendation of the senior judge.
On May 16, 2013, the legislative assembly appears to have recognized the serious lack of transparency and accountability in this process and enacted An Act to Amend the Justices of the Peace Act.
This act provides for a much improved appointment process by establishing a committee to receive and consider applications for appointment.
The committee will be composed of:
(a) a member recommended by the senior judge;
(b) a judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice;
(c) a justice of the peace; and
(d) two representatives of the public who are not employees of the Government of Nunavut.
The act also sets out three factors which the committee is to take into consideration in deciding which person to recommend for appointment as a justice of the peace.
These factors are the person’s
(a) knowledge of Inuit societal values;
(b) knowledge of the Inuit language; and
(c) knowledge of the community in which the candidate would serve.
The act allows for additional criteria to be set out in regulations under the act. The act, although passed in May 2013, is not yet in force and comes into effect only on a day fixed by order of the commissioner.
When in force, the act will go a long way towards meeting the concerns of the author of the Feb. 11 letter writer.
The question of Mr. Clark’s qualifications was not directly raised by the letter’s author but has been commented on by others.
I am pleased to add my comments. As the Director of Legal and Constitutional Law in the GN Department of Justice from 1999 to 2004, I encouraged Mr. Clark to join our department and worked closely with him over a number of years.
While he was with our department I was impressed not only by his knowledge of the law and his hard work, but by his compassion, willingness to listen and good judgment. He is a true gentleman in the full sense of the word.
In the end it is these qualities as well as Mr. Clark’s demonstrated commitment to his adopted community that will allow Mr. Clark to carry out his duties as the senior justice of the peace in a wise, kind and competent manner.
Douglas R. Wallace
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