Judicial Committees Need The Insight Of Law Enforcement Officers

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.

7 thoughts on “Judicial Committees Need The Insight Of Law Enforcement Officers

  • February 14, 2007 at 8:27 am
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    Check out Licia Corbella in today’s Toronto Sun.

    “Judging Liberal Bias”.

  • February 14, 2007 at 8:30 am
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    Good lord – so it’s OK to have Liberal partisan judges but not Conservative. They aren’t even trying to hide their bias anymore.

  • February 14, 2007 at 11:26 am
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    The job of the police is to enforce the law, not to make it. There is supposed to be seperation between these two for a reason.

  • February 14, 2007 at 12:44 pm
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    Is Greg Weston a fricking commie?? Why the hell is he working for the SUN chain?

    ‘By their actions.. you will know them.’

  • February 14, 2007 at 6:39 pm
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    The Sun chain is owned by a SEPERASTIST and employs second rate gossip mongers at best. Real reporters get out in the field to seek the truth and write about the NEWS. In Canada biased gossip stories are written from comfy cozy suburban homes like say, Manotick….

  • February 14, 2007 at 10:56 pm
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    anon (#3) the police or law enforcement agents are not making the law, they are just taking part in putting forward candidates to be judges.

    But to add to your point, judges are not supposed to make laws either, they are there to interpret them. Politicians make laws.

    Am I wrong?

  • February 16, 2007 at 10:15 pm
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    Actually, Mulder, I see your point but I disagree with the idea of the enforcement arm sitting in on judicial selection committees.

    I feel that police involvement in the justice system ends when they gather evidence and charge a defendant. Their input is not required thereafter, except if they are called to testify.

    Yes, judges read the law and most of their decisions are based on legal precedent. While obviously, there are cases where people are not punished as harshly as some would like, there are other cases where the innocent are convicted. It is a human system, after all, so it will never be perfect.

    I see no benefit in having police officers, regardless of their rank, involved in the judicial selection process. I was hoping the idea would end with the cabinet shuffle which got rid of Toews as Justice minister.

    I am equally opposed to the idea of electing judges, for obvious reasons. The last thing I want to see is judges playing to the gallery the way politicians do. This can only erode the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, which would in turn erode the principles of fundamental justice.

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