The Houston government has announced an overhaul of the Advisory Committee on Provincial Judicial Appointments, effectively giving the Minister of Justice full control over the process of appointing judges.
Under the Houston government’s new system, each of the seven members of the Advisory Committee will be appointed by the Minister of Justice, including the Chair who will no longer be elected by their peers – leaving a considerable level of discretion with the Minister.
In Question Period on March 7, 2019, Premier Houston was vocal about the importance of this committee and the principle of judicial independence. He noted at the time that “the court should be free from influence or interference from legislators.”
With the recent changes to the committee, it appears that Premier Houston has changed his mind.
“Judicial independence is imperative to ensuring that the court system aims to serve everyone equally,” says Liberal Justice critic Angela Simmonds. “For Premier Houston to give his Minister an overwhelming level of authority over the Advisory Committee is not only hypocritical, but a clear abuse of power.”