Thursday, February 15, 2007

Judicial Appointments and the Conservative Divide

All conservatives support the idea of increasing the security of our communities. Law and order figures prominently in all versions of right-wing thought. There's room for debate over approach, though.

Neoconservatives-- some of my very good friends -- are right to criticize the overly-activist nature of judicial review in Canada. We may disagree over the righteousness of some of the Supreme Court decisions lately, but we agree that parliaments, not judges, should enforce the Charter.

Yet their most recent approach toward fixing the problem is puzzling. Stacking a court to favor right-wing values -- in this case, law and order -- may offer Conservatives revenge for years of leftward drift. But it contains a heavy dose of irony. [Liberals encountered the same irony following the Chaoulli case, having defended a Court that turned on them.]

After years of criticizing the judicial system, why do we want to give it credibility by putting our own people in places of power? Stacking judicial committees to ensure non-activist judges are appointed is one thing; if we stop there, this is more than appropriate. But putting pro-conservative judges on the bench? Getting tough on crime is important, but do we need to sacrifice our principles regarding parliamentary sovereignty? These are open questions, and I welcome comments.

The red tory solution lies in getting proactive about debating Charter issues in parliament, including having the guts to publicly consider using the notwithstanding clause. I admired the Harper government's attempt to do so with regard to same-sex marriage, regardless if I agree with their desired outcome. Why not in this case? Their attempts at legislating mandatory minimums are a step in the right direction. (Have patience and faith, and these will become law.) Do we really need to stack courts, as well?

In short, the red tory answer is to put judges in their place, not to replace judges. We can't do both at the same time and remain consistent. Can we? Am I missing something?


whichwaysthegym said...

Tactful? No. But I am not concerned. Those concerned often hold the belief that judges are non-partisan and independent of party politics altogether. This has simply never been true.

Judges are appointed by politicians on the advice of other politicians and lawyers (Two of the most despised professions in Canada), yet we hold judges to a high regard. Judges have always been highly partisan whether we like it or not.

Check out
to see questionable Liberal appointees.

Now I agree with you on the notwithstanding clause 100%. I also would like to see the process of selecting judges be more independent, but until then, we might as well get good law and order judges on the benches :)

DeepRedTory said...

But we were supposed to be different, weren't we? The Liberals also stole taxpayers' money... Does that mean we're supposed to, too? I'm just saying: at some point we have to stick to principles.