Judicial Independence in Canada

Submitted by Justice Ian Binnie
on behalf of the Supreme Court of Canada*

“The role of the courts as resolver of disputes, interpreter of the law and defender of the Constitution requires that
they be completely separate in authority and function from all other participants in the justice system.”
– Chief Justice Brian Dickson, Supreme Court of Canada (1984-1990)1

This paper is submitted to the World Conference on Constitutional Justice on behalf of
the Supreme Court of Canada in anticipation of its Second Congress to be held in Rio de Janeiro
January 16-18, 2011. The topic of the Congress is “Separation of Powers and Independence of
Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Bodies.” The Venice Commission has identified a number
of issues that will be addressed at the Congress, namely the independence of the constitutional
court as an institution, the constitutional independence of individual judges, and the operating
procedures of courts. This submission addresses each of issues from the Canadian perspective
and in particular that of the Supreme Court of Canada.

* I would like to acknowledge the help of my law clerks Michael Marin and James Wishart in putting together this
1 The Queen v. Beauregard, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 56 at para. 30 [Beauregard].

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