Yesterday, in the Sun, Greg Weston had a piece titled Tory Control Freaks.
This was a piece about how the recent changes to the judicial committee makeup will change things forever.
Usually Mr. Weston has some pretty good insights and I enjoy when he gets a chance to sit in on Duffy or other interview shows. But this time, Greg has missed the mark.
1) As we have heard, the 50+ judges the Tories appointed last year were all recommended by the previous panel which the Liberals put together.
2) Greg shoots himself in the foot with this statement:
True, many of these judges — maybe even most of them — got where they are with a little help from their respective political pals.
This admission by Greg is pretty accurate which means that after 13 years of Liberal government, the majority of judges appointed the past 13 years will obviously be leaning towards Liberal ideals. This is not a right wing neo-con complaint as Greg says, but it is simply fact. He basically said it himself in the quote above.
3) This third point is very critical. The committee used to be 7 members. It used to contain
* a nominee of the provincial or territorial law society;
* a nominee of the provincial or territorial branch of the Canadian Bar Association;
* a judge nominated by the Chief Justice or senior judge of the province or territory;
* a nominee of the provincial Attorney General or territorial Minister of Justice; and
* 3 nominees of the federal Minister of Justice representing the general public.
Where do judges come from? In Canada they come from the lawyer pool. And as Greg mentions above, they don’t get where they are without some help from their respective political pals. By extension, this means that most lawyers and judges have a vested interest in being politically minded to some extent.
To me it does not matter what Party you are from or support. Having 4 of the 7 people influenced by politics creates an unfair playing field…especially if one party has been in power for 13 years.
The Tory plan, which is just a one year trial at this point, adds an 8th member nominated by the law enforcement community. These are the people who are out there in the communities, meeting people, seeing where law enforcement and judicial systems work and where they break down. I can’t think of a better position to provide input from two perspectives. 1) they know the community and 2) they know the judicial system.
So what happens now is that the third position, or the senior judge, does not vote unless the other seven members on the panel are deadlocked (with an abstention). This does not make any shift in the political leaning of the board, it simply adds an element that is clearly involved on a daily basis with the judiciary, WHO IS NOT PART OF THE JUDICIARY. This will help minimize the “old boys club” aspect that the Judiciary seems to have.
There will be detractors, who spew garbage like “if they want a police officer, they can appoint one with their three positions”. By this logic, any of the positions could be appointed via the governments three nominations. This would include someone from the Bar or Law Society too. I call this the “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” defense.
Now to get people like Marlene Jennings to stop quacking.