32 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 1 JANUARY 2018
3. the adjournment of cases;
4. the allocation of courtrooms; and
5. the control of security in courtrooms.41
Without such powers, the court could not operate independently from
government, and as a consequence the public’s confidence and faith in the
justice system and the rule of law would be compromised.
The Supreme Court of Canada has provided further guidance with respect
to chiefs’ general administrative powers. In B.C.G.E.U. v. British Columbia,42
the Court affirmed that chiefs have “the legal constitutional right and duty
to ensure that the courts of the province … continue to function”.43 This constitutional
right and duty was found to include, in certain circumstances, the
jurisdiction to enjoin picketing in front of the courts on the chief’s own
motion.44 But the case law makes equally clear that chiefs do not enjoy a
monopoly over decision-making power in respect of administrative matters.
In Ref re Remuneration of Judges of the Prov. Court of P.E.I.,45 the Supreme
Court of Canada affirmed that while certain decisions may be made by a
chief on behalf of the relevant court, “important decisions regarding administrative
independence cannot be made by the chief judge alone”, but may
require input and consent from the chief’s judicial colleagues.46 On the facts
before the court, the closing of the relevant court was found to fall within this
class of “important decisions” requiring input from others.
The Honourable David Malcolm, formerly Chief Justice of Western
Australia, estimates that the time spent on court administration can, during
times of significant legislative change and procedural reform, take up to
fifty per cent of the chief’s working hours.47 The tasks—some of which
may be thankless, onerous and bothersome at times—can be nearly allconsuming.
Trial court chiefs across Canada report taking on about onethird
of the caseload other trial judges take on. Chief Justice Hinkson, by
contrast, takes on a full caseload. Chief Justice Bauman takes on a similar
volume. This is a testament to the chiefs’ commitment to “keeping the axe
The characteristics that make someone a good judge are not necessarily
the same characteristics that make someone a good administrator. Indeed,
the two roles are distinct, each requiring a unique set of skills, aptitudes and
past experiences. A brilliant jurist may be wholly inept as an administrator,
while the most gifted administrator may leave no real mark in the court’s
jurisprudence. In short, an intellectual giant may nonetheless be an administrative
pipsqueak. To succeed in both capacities requires time, skill and
effort, as well as a willingness to grow, learn and adapt.