Letter: Harper botched Supreme Court appointment

Dear Editor,

Somehow Stephen Harper managed to take an ordinary responsibility of the Prime Minister – filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court – and turn it into a major debacle, deeply unbecoming of his office.

Last fall Mr. Harper appointed Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court, in an apparent violation of the requirements for justices from Quebec. He was immediately challenged, and Mr. Nadon was ultimately ruled ineligible this spring.

The affair left the court short a justice familiar with Quebec’s unique civil code for nine months and counting.

Instead of seeking out the best candidate, Mr. Harper seems to have gone out of his way to find one who was more ideologically acceptable.

Quebec’s top judges and lawyers were largely bypassed, with four of six candidates on the short list reportedly coming from the Federal Court, despite the fact that no Federal Court judge had ever been chosen for one of the Supreme Court’s three Quebec seats.

Along the way, the government ignored countless warnings that these judges were ineligible.

One of those warnings came from the Chief Justice herself.

Months later, the Prime Minister smeared her, saying her advice was “inappropriate and inadvisable.” He picked an unprecedented public fight with our highest court, casting aspersions on its credibility to impartially.

In fact, it was entirely appropriate for the Chief Justice to warn the government that its short-listed choices may not be eligible.

Reportedly, the government went as far as to suggest to Justice Nadon resign as a judge and join the Barreau du Quebec, purely to get around the rules.

Fortunately, he thought better of it.

The appointment was mismanaged from start to finish. The integrity of the process was undermined. The Supreme Court was smeared and left short-handed. The best and brightest of the legal community were spurned.

This mess has been a costly mistake. The government spent about $245,000 on the botched selection, plus an estimated $146,500 on Mr. Nadon’s salary.

Mr. Harper also a missed opportunity to increase diversity on the bench, as only one of his six appointments has been a woman.

Sadly, this is just the latest rebuke of the Conservatives’ reckless justice agenda. The courts have already struck down many of their policies, including the closure of Vancouver’s safe injection site, harsh mandatory minimums, and violations of the rights of child soldiers.

Sean Casey, Liberal Party of Canada Justice Critic

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants wrap southern swing with 6-4 win in Spokane

The Langley-based hockey team defeated the Chiefs Friday night.

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered Langley girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

WATCH: Farm Country Brewing in Langley City expected to open in summer

Farm Country Brewing is currently under construction and is planned to open in summer 2019.

LETTER: Langley/Surrey shortchanged on transit for Vancouver

Funding to get SkyTrain to Langley City could come from not undergrounding Vancouver’s extension.

LETTER: Area letter writer puts Trump government shutdown in perspective

A Maple Ridge letter writer is critical of Hillary Clinton’s comments about the shutdown.

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

Most Read