There needs to be 3 Indigenous judges sitting on Supreme Court of Canada: professor

‘It’s never enough to have just have one voice in a place,’ says John Borrows.

Supreme court

'It’s never enough to have just have one voice in a place,' says Prof. John Borrows. Photo: APTN.


The Supreme Court of Canada doesn’t have a single Indigenous judge among the nine members, but even appointing one wouldn’t go far enough.

There needs to be three.

That’s what Prof. John Borrows said on Nation to Nation Thursday.

“It’s never enough to have just have one voice in a place. That can be a bit narrow,” said Borrows, the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria.

“We need the fuller dialogue, which is again what our laws teach us. We need various perspectives from different clans, from different parts of society to get to the better decisions.”

There’s three judges from Quebec sitting on the Supreme Court.

Catch Todd Lamirande’s full interview below with Borrows, a member of the of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario.

But N2N begins with a Justice Minister David Lametti to discuss Bill C-22, a new piece of legislation that aims to remove all mandatory minimum penalties for drug offences and some gun crimes.

It’s part of the Liberal’s attempt to address systemic racism in the justice system.

It’s also about addressing parts of former prime minister Stephen Harper’s tough on crime agenda.

“It’s been a massive failure,” said Lametti. “Tough on crime is great for politicians and slogans but it wasn’t in the courts at all.”

Many of Harper’s mandatory minimum sentences have been overturned or found to be unconstitutional by the courts.

Lametti said mandatory minimums played a part in increasing the number of incarcerated Indigenous and Black people every year.

But easing up on sentencings means an increased burden on social programs to address the diversion from the courts.

Lametti admitted there needed to be more money put into these programs.

“We’re going to push for that. I am pushing for that additional funding. I know the health minister is pushing for that additional funding,” he said.

While evidence shows we need to be moving in that direction this bill is a step in that direction, said Lametti.

“I think we’ve turned the page on a failed policy,” he said.

Catch the full interview below.