Skip to main content

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Richard Wagner, speaks at the Canadian Bar Association 2020 Annual General Meeting with in Ottawa on Feb. 19, 2020.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The chief justice of Canada says the judiciary must be free to decide what training and education judges need to do their jobs well.

Richard Wagner’s comments in a speech to the Canadian Bar Association come just two weeks after the Trudeau government introduced legislation that would require new judges to commit to undergoing training in sexual assault law before taking seats on the bench.

Bill C-5 revives a private member’s bill introduced several years ago by former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, which stalled in the Senate and died when Parliament dissolved for last fall’s election.

However, the bill incorporates modifications proposed by senators to quell concerns that mandatory training for judges would impinge on judicial independence.

In his speech, Wagner says judicial independence is crucial to the success of democracy.

But he says it’s now under threat around the world and points to the United States as an example.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.