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A robe of a different colour: it's a little late for the media to start screaming about partisan court appointments.

NOTHING COULD BETTER MEASURE THE SCHIZOPHRENIA that increasingly besets this country than the shrieking of The Globe and Mail--and "shrieking" is the right word--when it discovered the Harper government is seeking to appoint ideological conservatives to the courts.


Focusing on a change made by the Tories in the judicial appointment process, Globe columnist John Ibbitson discerned--accurately, I think--the Tory effort to add a modicum of conservatism to our judicial system. Of the fact that this same system has been crammed top to bottom with flaming liberal ideologues during 14 years of Liberal rule, he seems utterly unaware.

"The Conservative government is putting at risk the independence of, and international respect for, the Canadian judiciary. It is an appalling misjudgment that must be reversed," he thundered.

Meanwhile, for two days running, this alleged Tory conspiracy commanded the Globe's front page. "'Tories seeking rightist court,' critics say," screamed one headline. "Partisans filling judge nomination committees," cried another. "The Tory government wishes to 'take back the bench,"' glumly warned an editorial. An ex-professor of law recommended that only lawyers be allowed to decide who should serve as a judge, while columnist Jeffrey Simpson blamed activist judges for creating the "simmering resentment" that has brought this about.

Next day, columnist Ibbitson, back on the subject again, went wilder than ever, urging present judges to launch a political fight against the government on the method of judicial appointment. How plunging into a political brawl with the government will somehow protect the judges against involvement in political controversy is a point he did not pause to consider or clarify.

That the appointment process for judges is a purely political question, and in no sense a judicial matter, seems to elude Mr. Ibbitson. He describes Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin's public intervention in the appointment issue as necessary and commendable, she having publicly castigated the Tory decision to involve representatives of police forces in the selection procedure--a direct attack on the Tory government. Will she be setting time aside, you wonder, for an activist role in the federal election? Have the Liberals perhaps arranged a campaign speaking tour for her, enabling her to more effectively denounce the Tories for threatening the non-partisan role of judges like herself?

Neither does it seem to have occurred to Ibbitson or the Globe editors that they're a little late with their alarm and fears for the non-involvement of the Canadian courts in political questions. Where were they, one might ask, when the fervid Madam Justice Bertha Wilson, first woman on the Supreme Court, was "reshaping Canada" (as she later described her role)? Where were they when the Liberals were zealously appointing to that same court such declared and fevered feminists as Louise Arbour, Claire L'Heureux-Dube, Rosalie Abella and Marie Deschamps?

So well known were these ladies' views on every social question scheduled to come before their court--whether on the legal foundations of the traditional family, protection for unborn children, the authority of parents to control their children, rights of fathers, or restraints on sexual conduct--that it is perfectly evident they were appointed specifically to create laws which would conform to those views.

The result was inevitable: they have served on the court with unswerving loyalty to the causes they were sent there to further. Consequently, every last Supreme Court decision in any of these areas became totally predictable, well before a scrap of evidence was presented or a single argument heard. And all of this, as it occurred, met with the hearty support, if not the fawning adulation, of the Globe and of those who think as it thinks.

Now, with the Harper initiative, they fear a threat for what they seemingly regard as the court's sterling reputation for impartiality. They obviously do not realize that, for millions of Canadians, any reputation it may have had for impartiality has been so long lost that taking a conservative case before it is regarded as a complete waste of money and time. To conservatives, that court is a star chamber, the enemy in ermine, the utter perversion of what it was intended to be.
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Title Annotation:SUPREME COURT
Author:Byfield, Ted
Publication:Western Standard
Date:Mar 12, 2007
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