Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, February 12, 2007

More of the Same

Two of the things I always say about right-wingers is that a) they want to make Canada more like the U.S. in every way and b) they have no ability to distinguish between things which should be partisan and things which shouldn't.

Here's a perfect example of both..

"The Conservative government is facing accusations that it's trying to pack the country's courts with right-wing judges by manipulating the membership of the advisory committees that vet candidates for the bench.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion led the attack in the Commons on Monday, laying the blame for the strategy squarely at the door of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"The only reason he's stacking the committees is to select judges who will cater to his neo-conservative agenda," said Mr. Dion, demanding an end to what he called a "blatant" effort to politicize the judiciary.

Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, voiced similar sentiments, as did NDP justice critic Joe Comartin. But the indictment of the Harper government reached beyond Parliament Hill, as prominent academics and lawyers joined the debate.

At issue are the advisory committees set up by Ottawa in each province and territory to examine the qualifications of candidates for the bench and make recommendations on their suitability to the federal justice minister.

At least 16 of 31 recent appointments to the panels have Conservative party ties, according to a survey by The Globe and Mail. Others, while not directly linked to the party, have expressed right-of-centre views about the proper role of the judiciary.


  • And the real issue is not so much the appointments themselves, but the fact that federal appointees (read: Conservative Cronies, including failed federal candidates) will now have a majority on these committees.

    That's unacceptable. I don't really want another election right away, yet my patience with these morons is running out. Has run out, rather.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 8:20 PM  

  • But when leftie gov't stack the courts (or any other institution) with their cronies it's okay?

    This is hardly an example of a Conservative/right-winger problem.... it's an example of a problem that infects all of the mainstream political parties and all levels of government. Patronage is still acceptable to Canadian politicians.... until we start slapping down all politicians who engage in crap like this REGARDLESS OF PARTY AFFILIATION we'll continue to be poorly governed.

    By Blogger Andrew, at 7:51 AM  

  • Well, let's first see some evidence that the Liberals put twice failed federal candidates and other such luminaries on these committees. And, no, it's not okay in either case.

    Problem is, Harper claimed he would bring some sort of "new era" of accountability and transparency - most of us did not take that to mean cronyism, interference with judicial independence, and unfettered partisanship the likes of which has rarely been seen.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 11:37 AM  

  • This post was unintentionally hilarious.

    For a large majority of the last 70 years, every Canadian institution has been packed with Liberal partisans, and now, somehow, the Conservatives Party is unable to do the same? As you likely are aware, 7 of the 9 current justices on the SC are Liberal appointees, many with a clear record of judicial activism and friendliness to left-wing causes.

    Also, please explain to us why having a review/hearing before the appointment of Supreme Court Justices is a bad thing. Heaven forbid we ask judges where they stand on the issues! As the old cliche goes, sunshine is the best disinfectant.

    Perhaps you don't have a logical reason for opposing a full commons review of judges, just as you didn't provide one for your proposal to ban political TV ads. Another example of emotion over reason, perhaps?

    By Blogger Albertagael, at 1:06 PM  

  • "But when leftie gov't stack the courts (or any other institution) with their cronies it's okay?"

    I must have missed the part of my post where I wrote that. Basically, my response is what Josh said. Or let me quote Greg Weston, writing in the Edmonton Sun, "If all this were simply continuing the Liberal tradition of troughing for the party faithful, the worst that could be said of the Conservatives is they're breaking their election promise to "do government better" than the Grits.

    But in media interviews this week, several appointees now helping to select Canada's future judges said they were probably chosen more for their socially conservative views than for their Tory ties.

    For example, the Globe quoted Jude Gosselin, a 27-year-old Manitoba teacher, Tory riding association exec and former youth pastoral co-ordinator for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Boniface, saying the Harper government wanted someone with "a more traditional way of looking at things."

    There is a distinction between patronage (which is partisan) and choosing judges (or the selection committiee for judges) based solely on their pre-expressed opinions on matters likely to come before the courts in the future rather than taking into cnosideration their competence as a judge. This is the inability to distinguish between what can acceptably be partisan and what isn't that I made in my post, and which the comments have borne out.

    While it would be ideal to remove patronage from the process altogether, it would be good as a start not to escalate from patronage into ideological warfare.

    Albertagael wrote:

    "Perhaps you don't have a logical reason for opposing a full commons review of judges, just as you didn't provide one for your proposal to ban political TV ads."

    If I recall correctly, after your repeated requests, I decided to oblige you and provided an explanation, roughly 400 words in length, explaining the logical reasons behind banning poliical ads. True I didn't explain why having elections decided based on who can raise the most money to air the most commercials taking their political opponents past quotes and actions out of context and attacking their appearance, gender, race, etc. in order to talk voters into not supporting them was a bad idea, but I figured that only willful blindness could necessitate such an explanation and that said willful blindness would not be overcome by any explanation I could write, thus it would be a waste of my time, much like this last paragraph I just wrote.

    By the same token, if I have to explain why going down a road where judges are chosen for their ideological loyalty rather than the quality of their judgements, where people will stoop to any lengths to dig up dirt on potential candidates, where there is such deep divisiveness over the process that death threats to judges (or at least comments like 'they should all swing in the noose' are common, and where the President would go so far as to nominate his own personal lawyer for the supreme court even though said lawyer has no qualifications, I think I am again wasting my time.

    By Blogger Declan, at 2:27 PM  

  • Actually, Declan, you merely stated that political ads were bad for Canadians, without providing a shred of evidence to back up this claim. The laundry list of perceived ills that you just provided is similarly unsupported.
    You also failed to reconcile your belief with our Charter rights regarding Freedom of speech, which are apparently subservient to your emotional dislike of said political ads. Do you not trust Canadian voters to make an informed decision on their own? I think that's getting to the heart of your opposition: your seeming fear that the electorate will come to a collective conclusion that differs from your own beliefs.
    This explains a number of other stances that you've taken:
    1) Elected/Proportional Rep. in the Senate
    2) Appointment/Review of Judges
    In each circumstance, you oppose a change to the status quo. I can't ferret out the reasons for your opposition to 1), but for 2), your argument appears to be similar to the "politicize the process" phrase that's been batted around. Again, why do you fear our elected representatives asking the judges a few direct questions surrounding their judicial philosophy? It's not too much to ask, in my opinion, given the fact these unelected judges hold an inordinate amount of power over our daily lives.
    You then resort to a few standard ad hominem arguments. The first is a standard straw man argument, trying to link those who support a less expansive role for our SC to a nebulous handful of violent wackos. Well done.
    The second argument, true to form, links my arguments about the Canadian SC to GWB. In fact, the case of Harriet Myers is one where the system worked quite well. GWB appointed someone lacking the sterling credentials one expects for the SCOTUS, and whom both sides had questions about, and the nomination was withdrawn. In any case, I'm not sure why you brought it up, given that it weakens your overall argument against a Commons review of SC appointees.

    By Blogger Albertagael, at 3:07 PM  

  • Albertagael - I'm not going to bother responding to your comment, but I do find these repeated attempts to psychoanalyze me and get to the roots of why I *really* support certain positions quite amusing. Keep it up.

    I urge you to reconcile your latest comment with my longstanding advocacy for proportional representation in the House of Commons.

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:17 PM  

  • I'm glad you're keeping a lighthearted attitude, Declan. Albertagael is exactly the kind of troll I've seen eventually batter down excellent bloggers. They make posts that are just rational enough to make you think you can have a reasonable discussion, then refuse to budge regardless of evidence or logic. It drives bloggers like Red Tory to stop blogging altogether and bloggers like Canadian Cynic to obsess over proving the trolls wrong.

    I would really hate it if a commenter like Albertagael were to drive you away from blogging.

    By Anonymous famousringo, at 8:55 PM  

  • Yes, your comment tracks my thinking pretty closely, famousringo. Thanks for the encouragement BTW - it does make a difference.

    By Blogger Declan, at 9:38 PM  

  • Frankly, I don't see why you'd give him a forum, but that's just me. Reading through his tripe to get to the useful comments is irritating and one of the reasons I don't read the comments much.

    By Blogger Tybalt, at 10:33 AM  

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