It isn't a surprise that the Conservatives under Harper would seek to appoint "Conservative" leaning judges. Harper and his Chief of Staff, Ian Brodie, come from the "Calgary School" of Canadian politics which seeks to fundamentally alter longstanding principles that most Canadians take for granted. For example, most Canadians would probably believe that the judiciary in Canada is independent and that judges are appointed according to merit and without regard to partisanship. For the most part, they would be right. Judicial appointments, particularly to the Supreme Court of Canada, have been notably above any partisan fray. Look at the appointments that have been made, dating back to the Mulroney era. Mulroney appointed such eminent judges as the current Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, the late John Sopinka - a famed Canadian litigator and Claire L'Heureux-Dube - who wrote progressive Charter opinions during her tenure. These appointments were made without regard for partisanship. Chretien's nominees withstand this test as well.
With respect to federal judicial nominations beyond the Supreme Court, the structural set up of the committees to appoint those judges has ensured that partisanship does not override judicial qualifications.
Now along comes Mini Bush and his gang, getting their chance to muck things up. What part of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" do they not understand? So what do they do? They muck it up. Changing the structure of the judicial committees to ensure that the federal government's representatives now have a majority of votes to outweigh the other committee reps.
You know what? I'll take the word of these two leading law professors over Mini Bush and his gang any day:
But Ed Ratushny, a University of Ottawa law professor, said the advisory panels play a key role by creating the pool of candidates from which the minister makes his choices.Yes it's a concern, to put it mildly.
The Tory appointments appear to signal a campaign to "transform the judiciary by getting people with a particular mind-set as judges," said Mr. Ratushny. "I don't think there was a concerted effort to do that under the Liberals."
Patrick Monahan, dean of Osgoode Hall law school, also found cause to worry about the Tory approach.
"Certainly, if the government is appointing to committees individuals who are there for partisan political considerations, I think that would be a matter of serious concern," said Monahan.
What else would one expect from this gang at this point? The gang that thinks all things American are good for Canada. Of course they're going to go for partisan judicial appointments. They've already successfully cut the funding for the court challenges program that helped many Canadian interest groups fund their appearances before the Supreme Court of Canada and advance minority positions that otherwise would not have been heard. But no more funding under Mini Bush. His Chief of Staff has had it out for the program for years and wrote a book attacking it. Imagine the tremendous harm caused by having groups affected by a significant ruling of the Supreme Court actually present and participating in the court process! No, we can't have that in Canada! The ungenerous Conservative viewpoint says that such viewpoints are not welcome at the Supreme Court. By cutting the funding, that's the result.
Today's news regarding judicial appointments is just one more story that tells a tale of the Conservatives lurching us toward a decidedly more American style of government. See for example:
- the tone taken by this government in its everyday dealings;
- the accusations of undermining the troops if the Afghanistan mission is criticized;
- emulating the American State of the Union addresses of late by planting guests as props to the PM's speech;
- committing a huge gaffe by barring the media from covering the return of fallen soldiers, just like the U.S.;
- denying the reality of climate change and following the U.S. position in substance and reprehensible rhetoric until dragged kicking and screaming to the light by your poll numbers;
We call him Mini Bush for good reason here at the Impolitical blog, you know...