Should Supreme Court Judges be Elected? || Debate Paper Assignment
The objectives of the debate papers are for students to engage with a “hot topic” in Canadian
politics and debate on it (Note: a debate means you will have to present at least two different views
(viewpoints) on the topic and the arguments supporting each position). For each debate paper, you
will have a choice among different topics (see below).
Choices for debate paper 1
- Should constitutional conventions be made into laws?
- Should the amendments formula be abolished?
- Should the notwithstanding clause (s.33) be removed from the Charter?
- Should Supreme Court judges be elected?
Your first task is to choose a topic among the list offered to you. Note, you can only write a debate
paper on the topics provided. For debate paper 1, there are 4 choices.
Once you have chosen your topic, you need to do some research! What information can you find
on this topic? Also, you will need to identify how you want to tackle this topic. You need to find
arguments on “both sides” and form your own critical opinion.
Paper and presentation
Now that you have chosen your topic and one some research you have to write your paper. Here
are the presentation format requirements:
- Length: 600-700 words
- Font: Times New Roman
- Font size: 12
- Line Spacing: Double
- Margins: 2.5 cm (or 1 inch)
Your paper should include the following and be divided into multiple paragraphs:
a) an introduction where you introduce the topic and the various arguments you will be
b) a general presentation of the arguments for each position on the topic (For example:
some authors will argue to abolish the Crown; others think we need to keep it. Tell us why
for each case).
c) a brief conclusion to what you think is the most convincing position (which side are you
taking) and why.
d) a reference list including at least 3 academic references (one of which has to be your
textbook). By academic references, we mean books or articles published in peer-reviewed
journals. Referencing must be done using APA style.
Each debate paper is worth 15% for a total of 60% of your final grade. A rubric will be used and
is available on Moodle
The Supreme Court acts as the arbiter where can resolve cases if the other courts fail to attain a satisfactory conclusion. Globally, countries have various court systems that are implemented to ensure law and order are upheld. In Canada, the judicial system has a unique layout with the various subsidiaries existing, ensuring that justice can be served. The topmost is that the Supreme Court has three branches: the Court-martial appeal court, territorial courts of appeal, and federal court of appeal. Below these four courts are seven other courts serving on local levels to serve citizens("The judicial structure - About Canada's System of Justice", 2019). The federal government has the sole responsibility of electing Supreme Court judges and determining their pay. Despite the system allowing for a stress-free process that saves a lot of money, the possibility of appointments being made based on friendships and favors rather than merit.
According to former Chief justice Beverley McLachlin, a cultural change is required; however, no implementation strategy was stated("Where’s the Accountability in Canada’s Justice System? – NSRLP", 2019). The system utilized presently is the 1970’s model that focused on the judges other than the entire system. According to CBC reporter Mark Kelley, between 2010 and 2015, an excess of 200 Canadian lawyers was disciplined for stealing and helping themselves with client money("Betrayal of Trust - Episodes - The Fifth Estate", 2017). According to the report, some looted trust funds belonging to clients while others satisfied themselves with estates belonging to clients. It is worth noticing that these same lawyers avoid submitting a yearly independent audit report with their law firms; thus, escaping assessment that would expose them to the citizens.
In the light of these discoveries, allowing the federal government to be responsible for the selection of judges makes the judicial system questionable. An unjustified argument can be made that the decisions made help ensure that the process is affordable and done quickly. However, citizens should not be given cheap options to satisfy the individuals at the top but rather a quality service worth the taxation paid. Bolivia can serve as an exquisite example as they deviated from the olden system of judges’ selection. Historically, the nation used to appoint judges through the executive section of the government(Driscoll & Nelson, 2012). Therefore, it gave room for political interference, corruption, and inefficiency to serve the citizens. As the years progressed, the judicial system was filled with violations of human rights and impunity; thus, adversely affecting the lives of the citizens. Constitutional reforms conducted in 2009 resulted in amendments in the Bolivian system where elections had to be conducted before judges belonging to high bodies could be selected(Driscoll & Nelson, 2012). It resulted in individuals being selected based on merit and experience.
Bolivia serves as an example that rot in the system can be eliminated, giving room for the system to thrive. Presently, the Canadian Supreme Court system comprises nine judges whose citizens are not confident that they are without blemish(Driscoll & Nelson, 2012). If research can be conducted, undoubtedly, evidence will appear that some of the judges have been involved in corrupt proceedings related to criminals and some politicians. Creating an electoral system will allow the judges to be scrutinized in public, giving a clear perspective of what they stand for(Driscoll & Nelson, 2012). In addition, the electoral system should force the judges to present their wealth, salary, and other revenue sources giving a clear perspective of how the judges earn their funds.
In conclusion, despite the motives being clear and oriented towards the taxpayers not feeling a pinch, the process of electing these individuals tends to serve an ulterior reason where individuals get to benefit while ordinary citizens are hurting. Furthermore, judges bend the law to attain properties illegally and retain them by ensuring the system favors their crimes. Therefore, it is prudent to amend the constitution; thus, ensuring that all those who serve the citizens are not only qualified but fair.
Driscoll, A., & Nelson, M. (2012). The 2011 judicial elections in Bolivia. Electoral Studies, 31(3), 628-632. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electstud.2012.04.006
Ebert, R., Griffin, R., Starke, F., & Dracopoulos, G. (2019). BUSINESS ESENTIALS (9th ed.). Published by Pearson Canada.
The judicial structure - About Canada's System of Justice. Justice.gc.ca. (2019). Retrieved 27 September 2021, from https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/just/07.html.
Where’s the Accountability in Canada’s Justice System? – NSRLP. Representingyourselfcanada.com. (2019). Retrieved 27 September 2021, from https://representingyourselfcanada.com/wheres-the-accountability-in-canadas-justice-system/.
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