Stephen Harper stealthily lays his imprint over the Canadian judiciary

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      If you want to learn how Prime Minister Stephen Harper is surreptitiously transforming the country, look no further than today's Globe and Mail.

      Justice reporter Sean Fine spent months researching the role that key Conservative cabinet ministers are playing in the appointment and promotion of federally appointed judges.

      His article provided compelling evidence that Harper and key current and former cabinet ministers (including James Moore, Rona Ambrose, Jason Kenney, Joe Oliver, and Peter MacKay) have devoted enormous attention to finding "reliable judges".

      Reliability, in the Conservative government's view, is someone who is more likely to defer to the will of Parliament. Fine also wrote that ideal judicial candidates have a "general worldview involving a lack of sympathy for minority causes or convicted criminals".

      Perhaps not shockingly, he also revealed how some judges lobby Conservative politicians either directly or indirectly for promotions to higher courts. 

      There's also some terrific reporting on the ideological underpinnings of the "originalism" movement, which seeks to stifle constitutional interpretations that reflect changing times and social attitudes.

      There's a widespread belief that the Supreme Court of Canada is the country's bulwark against Harper's legislative excesses.

      Fine's article in the Globe and Mail demonstrates that there's no room for complacency because the Conservatives are gradually chipping away at the independence of the judiciary from below.



      James Blatchford

      Jul 25, 2015 at 2:01pm

      There is being being sick of political figures, then there's being Rona Ambrose sick. However coined the political phrase that a fish rots from the head, must have been inspired by an image like this. Where is Marg Delahunty when we need her?

      Independent Judiciary

      Jul 25, 2015 at 2:43pm

      The judiciary should be independent insofar as the decision they make within the context of he law promulgated by parliament should not be interfered with and political pressure should not be applied to judges to obtain a desired outcome in a trial.

      In a democracy, the judiciary should not be overturning or making creative interpretations of the laws promulgated by parliament. Parliament is the body entrusted by the populous through their vote to make law in Canada. If Canadians are so stupid as to vote into power a crazed ideologue like Harper, then Canadian very much deserve the misery they cause themselves.

      Because the flip side is, if unelected and unaccountable judges can arrogate to themselves the law making capacity, we live in an oligarchy, not a democracy, and any prime minister wanting to make changes that are good for the majority of people would be powerless to implement those changes in the face of a corrupt judiciary thoroughly bought by or deferential to the private interests of a few wealthy people.

      Ask yourself who the vast majority of judges are. They are well-to-do lawyers mostly from large law firms whose clients are large business interests. Just by virtue of their training and socioeconomic status, judges have a skewed view of society, and certainly do not want such people effectively running the country.


      Jul 25, 2015 at 2:51pm

      Hmmm... Seems the Conservatives are doing the same things the liberals did in the past. In fact, that's exactly what any government does.


      Jul 25, 2015 at 3:50pm

      Judges ought to be Elected for fixed terms of no more than 4 years.

      There ought to be Term limits on all Politicians of no more than two 4 or 5 year terms at least Federally.

      Or we will just have to keep getting CONNED!

      Dee Chardain

      Jul 25, 2015 at 8:09pm

      the above commentator said:
      >we live in an oligarchy, not a democracy

      Not true! ... easy to moan & groan from our relative peace & prosperity but, suggest consider the reality check of asking - Why would most of the people in this world love to trade places with us in Canada?

      Sure Canada has room for improvement but Winston Churchill put in in context: "Democracy is the worst form of government - except for all the others."

      Voter apathy is a detriment to making Canada even better ... spread the word & vote smart.


      Jul 26, 2015 at 9:00am

      We have to turn up and vote these people out. They are not Canadian. Wipe 'em out at the voting booth.

      James Osborne

      Jul 26, 2015 at 9:16am

      The damage that Stephen Harper has done and is doing to Canada and to our democractic way of life may very well take many years to repair.

      He must be a slow learner -- seven times his government has gone to the Supreme Court of Canada to try advancing his personal agenda and six times he has been rebuffed. Now he is eresorting to more nefarious tactics.

      Stuart Harvey

      Jul 26, 2015 at 9:34am

      I sincerely hope that we will never change to a system like the American one of electing judges. Let's have an elected Senate, certainly, with their term being perhaps 8 years instead of the four year term, but we do not want a system that responds to every whim of a current PM, and this may be a more suitable term for the Supreme Court Judiciary too. Times have changed since 1867, an with modern media's ability to reflect the current views of an electorate whose opinions change faster than the weather. Let's retain something in our system that provides a little more stability in the time-honoured traditions of our country than the latest changes in the lust for power of some power-hungry politicians and their supporters who will follow anything that moves!.

      Janet Hudgins

      Jul 26, 2015 at 9:56am

      No surprise as the Supreme Court has become our loyal opposition and since Harper has a killer majority--with 24% of the vote-- it's the only hope we have. And we can only hope that the country's lawyers are standing pat and he won't get to destroy them, too. Hard to believe such a destabilizer as Harper could have been running the country and we are going to look back with tremors when its over and we find out just how deep the cracks went.
      Well, we let this happen to us and the responsibility is all ours to fix. So Vote!

      Geoff Young

      Jul 26, 2015 at 10:25am

      Stealthily. LOL.
      All prime ministers or presidents in democratic systems have the last word on who is named to the courts. Some countries vet them to varying degrees but it's usually a partisan vote in a partisan system that sees judges confirmed.
      That a conservative would name conservative minded judges does not have me in a state of shock. When the other guys take office, there will be liberal judges appointed.