NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was forced Wednesday to claw back a suggestion bilingualism requirements for Supreme Court justices be waived to encourage Indigenous candidates.
Singh had made the suggestion earlier in the day after judge and educator Sheilah Martin was nominated to fill an upcoming vacancy on the top court, disappointing some who had hoped an Indigenous candidate would be chosen.
But after his idea generated friction within his own caucus, Singh issued a statement to clarify he “strongly” believes that Supreme Court justices be bilingual with a functional understanding of both French and English, adding it is the only way to ensure Canadians access justice in an official language.
Indigenous rights must also be recognized and defended, Singh said, noting Indigenous languages have historically been “grossly overlooked” in Canadian institutions.
“I am open to hearing suggestions of how to remain fully committed to bilingual judges while supporting the advancement of judges from Indigenous communities,” he said.
“It’s my sincere hope that we will see, in near future, a Supreme Court Justice from a First Nation, Metis or Inuit background.”