Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top-court appointment bypasses review process

This is from the Globe and Mail.
Harper is very busy even though parliament is prorogued and he really doesn't have the confidence of parliament. Indeed, that is why he must be so busy giving out Xmas senate seats and now appointing a conservative judge to the supreme court. Again he has broken his promise to have judicial reviews. Maybe Harper is going to provoke the opposition in January and wants to have 18 senators and a judge already in place just in case. But then Ignatieff has blessed the appointment so who needs reviews. Maybe Ignatieff has already blessed the budget as well. Perhaps there is a blessed Liberal Conservative coalition as an Xmas present for the Canadian people.

Top-court appointment bypasses review process
December 23, 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised the legal community yesterday by filling a long-standing vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada and in doing so bypassed a parliamentary review process that his own party had fought hard to institute.
Mr. Harper appointed Mr. Justice Thomas Cromwell - a hard-working, judicial conservative with a flair for clear and persuasive writing - reasoning that it had been eight months since Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache's retirement left the court one judge short.
"The Supreme Court must have its full complement of nine judges in order to execute its vital constitutional mandate effectively," the Prime Minister said in a statement.
Mr. Harper emphasized that his sudden move was an exception, and that future Supreme Court candidates will undergo parliamentary scrutiny before their appointments are made final.

However, his assurance failed to appease critics who believe that his Conservative government has been consistently erratic in its approach to the Supreme Court appointment process.
"This is a shocking, stumbling way for an appointment to be made," said University of Toronto political scientist Peter Russell, an expert on the judiciary. "We should be ashamed of this stumblebum process of selecting people for our highest judicial office."
Prof. Russell criticized the government for first ignoring an all-party process used to compile a list of finalists for the vacancy, and then bypassing the parliamentary review stage.
Notwithstanding this "stupid, wrong and foolish" approach, Prof. Russell said that Judge Cromwell is a well-regarded jurist who can be expected to use the Charter of Rights and Freedoms sparingly to strike down legislation, and who will generally place the interests of policing ahead of the rights of the accused.
Appointed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in 1997, Judge Cromwell, 56, is a specialist in civil procedure and labour law. He trained in music before commencing his legal education.
"This appointment is a very great honour, but it brings with it a humbling public responsibility and a considerable professional challenge," he said in a statement yesterday.
"I am reminded of a passage read at my law school graduation which has always stayed with me: 'From everyone who has been given much, much will be expected and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked,' " he said.
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said in a statement that Judge Cromwell "is a judge of the highest ability, integrity and intellect. In addition to his vast experience on the Bench, he also brings a profound understanding of the role and the challenges of the Supreme Court."
During the summer, Chief Justice McLachlin urged a prompt appointment to prevent the rest of the Supreme Court bench from having to shoulder an added burden. Throughout the court's fall term, she dropped one judge off of each appeal panel in order to prevent the possibility of a 4-4 tie.
Mr. Harper noted in his statement yesterday that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was consulted about the appointment and welcomed it.

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