Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Some stats Supreme Court of Canada Justices

The Supreme Court of Canada is an important branch of government but one that most people tend not to think of.   The court matters and the composition of the court can have a huge impact on the country.

Here is a table of the number of justices and how long they have collectively served on the Supreme Court of Canada.

Province    Total  Total   Chief     CJ
          Justices days   Justices days
Quebec       30   138,161    6    16,030
Ontario      30   119,406    5    15,731
BC            4    31,957    2     9,070
New Brunswick 6    23,340    1     5,007 
Nova Scotia   5    23,317    0         0
Alberta       4    14,707    0         0
Manitoba      4    13,672    1     2,265
Saskatchewan  4    11,350    0         0
PEI           1     8,255    1     1,987
Newfoundland  0         0    0         0

When the Supreme Court of Canada was founded in 1875 the country only had seven provinces and so the model of three justices from Ontario, three from Quebec and three for the rest of the country made some sense.   As the country has evolved we have added three provinces and the weight of the population in the country has shifted.   It has evolved that defacto one of the seats on the bench belongs Atlantic Canada and the other two to the west.  

Newfoundland has been part of Canada for 65 years but there has never been a justice from that province.

BC has 56% of the population of Quebec and 34% of the population of Ontario but has no certainty of having a seat on bench at any given time.   Alberta has not been represented on the Supreme Court since December 25th 2005.  When Beverly McLachlin retires in 2018 the replacement will likely have to come from Alberta leaving BC without a justice.

Maybe the time has come to increase the size of Supreme Court of Canada to 12 to 15 members.   You would have to keep the ratios of 1/3 Ontario, 1/3 Quebec and 1/3 for the rest of the country the same.   At 12 that would allow for one more western justice which would make it possible to always have a justice on the Supreme Court of Canada from Alberta and BC.

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