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Montreal, January 9, 2018 — CRARR has asked the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to launch an inquiry into the selection process of Quebec Court judges, particularly the requirement that applicants must submit a “recent photo.”

In a letter sent yesterday to Camil Picard, the Commission’s interim President, CRARR pointed to the photo requirement included in the December 1st, 2017 call for applications for judgeship at the Court of Quebec. This requirement is entrenched in s. 11 of the Regulation respecting the selection procedure of candidates for the office of judge of the Court of Québec, municipal court judge and presiding justice of the peace.

According to CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi, this photo requirement is completely unjustifiable and unreasonable. It is also potentially discriminatory, as it can be used to eliminate applicants of color or Aboriginal applicants. The Human Rights Commission has determined that an employer’s requirement of a photo for a job application violates the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, with some exceptions.

“The fact that such a requirement still exists for applicants can send the wrong message to the public about a double standard for the judiciary, considering that, except for very exceptional circumstances, no employer can demand a photograph from a job applicant”, said Niemi.

CRARR also notes that in the call for applications, there are no provisions to encourage applicants from equity designated groups such as First Nations people, members of racialized groups, people with disabilities and women to apply, as in Ontario and at the federal level. Furthermore, there is no statutory or administrative requirement, or expressed objective to the effect that the judicial selection committee reflects diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation, or gender parity, similar to the Ontario and federal models.

“The photo requirement and the absence of tangible institutionalized diversity measures in the judicial selection process for the Quebec Court lead us to believe that there are barriers of systemic discrimination in the process, which may explain the gross under-representation of racialized and Indigenous judges among the 306 judges at the Quebec Court,” Niemi noted.

CRARR has also asked the Human Rights Commission, if necessary, to take legal action to strike down the “recent photo” requirement, and to seek other systemic remedies to ensure diversity and inclusion in the judicial appointment process.

To view the Call for Application: