Singh supports language exception for Indigenous appointees to top court

By on November 30, 2017


— NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the requirement that Supreme Court judges be functionally bilingual should be waived in the case of Indigenous candidates for appointment to the country's top court. (Photo: Jagmeet Singh/Facebook)
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the requirement that Supreme Court judges be functionally bilingual should be waived in the case of Indigenous candidates for appointment to the country’s top court. (Photo: Jagmeet Singh/Facebook)

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the requirement that Supreme Court judges be functionally bilingual should be waived in the case of Indigenous candidates for appointment to the country’s top court.

Singh says his party supports bilingual Supreme Court judges but he agrees with some Indigenous leaders who’ve argued that the language requirement creates hurdles for Indigenous appointees.

He says there needs to be an understanding of the unique historical situation Indigenous communities have faced as well as a recognition of Indigenous languages.

Sen. Murray Sinclair, the former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Assembly of First Nations grand chief Perry Bellegarde say an Indigenous appointment to the top court is long overdue and should be a top priority for the Liberal government.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson Raybould, who is Indigenous herself, says there is a substantial number of Indigenous jurists across the country and she suspects many will apply for positions on the court in the future.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Alberta-based judge Sheilah Martin to the Supreme Court.