Legal issues for teachers and students with background information and teaching resources.
Have students read the issue's Backgrounder to get basic information about how judges get their jobs in Canada.
Send students to www.mapleleafweb.com/features/judical/supreme-court/appointment/index.html to find first general information about the Supreme Court of Canada and its appointment process and then continue on in this website to find out how other countries appoint their judges, including Great Britain, France the USA and Australia. Students may be encouraged to go further into this website to find some information about recent appointments to our Supreme Court and the criteria and consultation that goes into that process. The site also makes some recommendations about how the process might be reformed, but before students go there the teacher may ask them to list the criteria they think are most necessary to become a judge on the Supreme Court. Remind them that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has given the Supreme Court considerable power to affect the lives of all Canadians. Should that power be granted by a political party, and what are the implications of that?
Have students describe the role of a Supreme Court Justice and consider what qualities they would need to do a good job. Ask how a person gains those characteristics, capabilities and skills. How would someone identify an individual who has the necessary qualifications? What group of people is most likely able to qualify? Are there groups in our society who are disadvantaged by this process or lack the opportunity to gain such skills? Should the Supreme Court be representative of the people in the country? How could true representation be achieved?
Given the requirements for the job as a Justice of the Supreme Court, ask students how they would go about finding the best candidates? Keep in mind that they must come from various parts of the country according to the breakdown of representation set out in the Backgrounder. Prime Minister Paul Martin has asked citizens to nominate a suitable person to replace Justice John Major. With all the information students have at their disposal, ask them to write a letter to the Prime Minister outlining the qualities that the candidate should have and who they think that person might be.
Ask students to write a life plan as if their goal was to become a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.