Saturday, March 10, 2007

Do as I say; not as I do

No, I'm not going to slag David Suzuki or Al Gore today. This one is for Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin who as the National Post editorial notes (Don't Speak), seems to have no problem speaking from a political stance but abhors any such influence in the Justice system.

Speaking Thursday to the Empire Club in Toronto, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin bemoaned what she said was the increasing inability of ordinary Canadians to seek justice in the courts, primarily because of the high cost and long waits.

Litigation is, of course, a costly and time-consuming burden. But we doubt that this unfortunate fact has changed much over the years. Taking a case to trial, then all the way through the various layers of appeal, has always been an expensive, drawn-out process -- which is why most litigation tends to end with a negotiated settlement. But even if we accept Judge McLachlin's contention that the situation has deteriorated of late, her remarks -- coming as they do on the heels of the Conservative government cutting two major sources of funding for litigious interest groups -- gives the appearance that the chief justice may be taking a political stance.

The Post is of course referring to Conservatives cuts to the Court Challenges Program and the Status of Women department, both of which serve a largely left-wing agenda. They obviously feel that judges should keep their political opinions to themselves. I agree.

Lawyer Karen Sellick had an interesting opinion piece in the Post on Tuesday (Judicious Compensation). Her contention appears to be that the system is flawed due to a fixed salary system, which removes the incentive to increase productivity .

She is concerned that the current system not only encourages slackers, but also something far worse:

But there's another risk, too. With financial motivation gone, it will be the ideologues among the judiciary who will tend to step forward and seed the law reports with their decisions. They have other motivations besides money -- the ambition to move up the judicial ladder into appellate courts, or the desire to influence the direction of the law in accordance with some ideological agenda.

So it's not just the selection process that tends to politicize the judiciary. The compensation system does it, too.

She goes on to offer a remedy:

There is a solution to this problem. It's to allow opposing litigants to jointly select their judge, with judges being paid according to time worked. Only unbiased judges would get many cases, and we wouldn't need political pre-screening of applicants because judges would be screened daily by those requiring their services.

So unless things change, we will continue to enable a powerful system of slackers who are only encouraged to become productive if they have a political agenda to enforce. This is their motivation; notwithstanding the odd one who may actually possess a modicum of integrity.

Not a pretty picture for the future of Canadian society.

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With that, I'll sign off for a few days. I have a pile of reading to catch up on.

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Update: Interesting Counterpoint by David Asper. Thoughts?


chris from winnipeg said...

The comment about judges being influenced by their ideoligies works both ways. It stands to reason that if a judge is liberal or conservative he/she will tend to make judgements as they see them. If that is the case though, why do the majority of the judges seem to be of the liberal persuasion? Can it be that the Liberals were in power, with the ability to appoint judges, for the majority of the recent past?

Now that the Conservatives are in power with the ability to appoint to the bench, perhaps they will be leveling the playing field. I love the fact that they had a committee interview the last member put on the SCC because it opens the process to public scrutiny. It allows members of the governing party and opposition to have a platform to question some of the candidate's past decisions and assess whether they will be impartial (more or less). Of course we know what will happen if the Liberals ever get back in power. There will be no more oversight and they will be able to put as rabid a liberal onto the bench as they wish with nobody to complain except the opposition justice critic and we all know that that is what they are there for, to complain about government decisions.

Have a good few days off Joanne. Catch up on your reading and come back refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be easier to simply make it illegal for Judges to donate to political party's directly or indirectly, and not allow them any political position once they've stepped down for say 5 years?

Anonymous said...

Beverly McLachlin complaining of judicial appointments. What a joke. Here's a few of her more well known judgemets, including child-porn for artistic purposes.

During her early years on the Supreme Court, she was characterized as a judge with libertarian leaning after her dissent in R. v. Keegstra, finding that the hate-speech criminal offences were unconstitutional, and her judgment in R. v. Zundel where she struck down the criminal offence of spreading false news. This was also seen to an extent in her decision of R. v. Sharpe where she upheld the child pornography criminal provisions, but limited it by excluding imaginative works that are for private use.

Among her more controversial decisions was her ruling in R. v. Seaboyer, where she struck down the rape shield law because it violated the right to a fair trial of those accused of sexual assault. Critics who had seen McLachlin as a groundbreaker for the advancement of women believed she had betrayed their cause.

Anonymous said...

And heres some of the cases she has presided over and her decisions. Tell me which political party her decisions and stance seem to mirror.

Anonymous said...

"Wouldn't it be easier to simply make it illegal for Judges to donate to political party's directly or indirectly, and not allow them any political position once they've stepped down for say 5 years?"

That wouldn't change their own personal bias, which seems to seep into their judgments....or feed their own agendas (hidden as they may be)

Wasn't Beverly McLachlin the one who said in an interview in New Zealand that judges on the supreme court had to make decisions for the masses of people who were unfit to do so??? (massive paraphrasing, but I think that was the drift of the message). In other words, has she not felt divine appointment to tell Canadians what kind of a society they need to live in?


Joanne (True Blue) said...

Raz, yeah. There was a big stink about that a while back.
I had a post on it last May. Just try to overlook the comment about Garth Turner - how times change.

Anonymous said...

With that I'll sign off for a few days -- right! Just like I do. LOL I'm really trying to take time off as well, but there just seems to be no end to the interesting news. Like today I discover the Gazette had written up about "full-choice" child care. Ah, well, we can at least try to take time off. Happy reading!

Anonymous said...

Joanne -- as I was signing off my last comment, I looked up and saw your headline for today: "Do as I say; not as I do." LOL Hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Remember thew naked Judge on the booze cruise off the shores of San Fran CA. , we have yet to hear from Bev about which of the other 8 Judges was the guilty party.
If it's that tough for her to figure out that it only take the effort to bring the 8 people into a room as ask who it was , then whay the hell is she in such a powerful position of trust and can control the Morals and Ethics of 32 million people.

I really don't care about a person paying to go on a cruise ship to party naked with those of a like mind, my issue is the perception for Canada and the fact that now we see that a SCOC Judge will lie to keep their job, this makes it pretty tough for me to feel like a had a fair trial or was fairly treated by the Judge.

But alas.......keep in mind that the same bunch of thieves that robbed us through the AdScam and Unity Fund were the ones that put these Judges in power to rule on Legal issues and Charter Rights.
The Charter is exalted as if it's a living entity that just fell from the sky one day , the Lawyers and Politicians use it to play both sides of an issue while we fund the whole charade with our taxes and even if they commit a crime while in power it is our Taxes that pay for their Lawyer to hide behind the Charter and use the Sgt.Schultz arguement of " Too stupid to be expected to know what was going on" .

The Charter was designed by Humans, it was intended to be the yardstick for values as the Catholic P.M. Trudeau deemed them , and people , along with Judges can make mistakes as was made when Judges ruled to allow Slavery and later ruled to ban it.

Think about this folks , when the SCOC has a 5-4 ruling it really means that 8 Judges were all correct in their perceptions of reality and Human Rights until the 9th Judge chose which 4 to agree with to make THEIR perception more valid since 5 Judges are now the majority to affirm the other 4 are just plainly wrong.
But even then , we see an appeal after appeal until the Judges retire and new ones can make the in-valid the new valid mind set and social norm.

Murder is Illegal because WE valued Human life , not because it's against the Law which came first as if no moral input from the People was behind it.
We've been scammed for so long there is a whole generation that only knows a Canada with the Charter or vaguely remember thge pre-Charter days of oppression and death-camps and no Civil Liberties or Rights.

Red Tory said...

Beverley McLachlin -- A Conservative appointee. ;)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Beverley McLachlin -- A Conservative appointee. ;)

Really? Who appointed her?

Anonymous said...

I think you might be mistaken RT.

Supreme Court appointments
Chrétien recommended the following names for appointment by the Governor General as Justices to the Supreme Court of Canada:

Michel Bastarache (September 30, 1997–present)
William Ian Corneil Binnie (January 8, 1998–present)
Louise Arbour (September 15, 1999–June 30, 2004)
Louis LeBel (January 7, 2000–present)
Beverly McLachlin (Chief Justice) (July 7, 2000–present) (appointed a Puisne Justice by Governor General Jeanne Sauvé on the advice of Brian Mulroney in 1989)
Marie Deschamps (August 7, 2002–present)
Morris J. Fish (August 5, 2003–present

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's have the government fund all lawsuits, that would solve all those problems people have from their paycheques being too large these days.

A 'justice system' equivalent to our 'health care' system is just what we need if we want to provide ourselves with neither.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anon at 12:40:00 PM EDT. Thank you for that. But Red Tory is never mistaken, so I am perplexed.

Anon at 12:42:00 PM EDT - A 'justice system' equivalent to our 'health care' system is just what we need if we want to provide ourselves with neither.

Sad but true.

liberal supporter said...

As anon 12:40 said:

"Beverly McLachlin (Chief Justice) (July 7, 2000–present) (appointed a Puisne Justice by Governor General Jeanne Sauvé on the advice of Brian Mulroney in 1989)"

RT calls her a Conservative appointee, because she was appointed to the Supreme Court on the advice of Brian Mulroney. She was actually appointed by the Governor General, so if you are now adding the GG to the list of Canadian institutions under attack, you could refer to McLachlin as having been appointed by the Liberal Governor General.

Oops, I forgot, that should be the unelected Liberal Governor General.

But for most people, one would say McLachlin was appointed to the SCC by Brian Mulroney.

Ti-Guy said...


Another brilliant coup for the Sporty Spice of the blogosphere.

Girl Power!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Another brilliant coup for the Sporty Spice of the blogosphere.

She-Ra says 'Discretion is the better part of valour'.