More vacancies on B.C. Supreme Court to start 2018 despite new appointment process

  • January 24, 2018

By Charmaine de Silva for GlobalNews Radio 980 CKNW

A full calendar year has come and gone since the federal Liberals announced a new process to appoint judges, but it hasn’t addressed vacancies on the bench.

There are currently more vacancies on the B.C. Supreme Court now than there were at the beginning of 2017.

As 2017 started there were nine judicial vacancies on the B.C. Supreme Court, and as the calendar turned over to 2018 there were 11.

That’s now down to 10 with an appointment last week.

President of the B.C. Branch of the Canadian Bar Association Bill Veenstra says the shortage results in cases being bumped regularly.

“Which means you’ve booked your time for a trial, you’ve booked it a year or 18 months in advance, you’ve done all the preparation work, you’ve shown up at the day of trial and you’re told ‘sorry, we don’t have enough judges.'”

In a letter sent to Justice Minister Jody Wilson Raybould in December last year addressing the shortage, Veenstra said while the financial cost of delays may be substantial, the emotional cost is equally as high.

Veenstra says the advisory committee has made a number of recommendations but the courts are waiting for the justice minister to make the appointments.

“We need the minister to continue doing what she’s doing, just do it a little faster, which is making high quality appointments to the court.”

The justice minister announced on Jan. 19 that Jasvinder Bill Basran will be filling one of B.C.’s then-11 vacant Supreme Court seats.