Friday, February 24, 2006

Rothstein J: Vox Populi

Until now, Supreme Court of Canada judges have been chosen by a process that rivals papal conclaves for secrecy and mystique. All that's missing is the white smoke streaming from the chimney at PMO. And, of course, the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

So you'd think that people would be happy for at least a small step towards transparency in the process by having Marshall Rothstein submit to gentle questioning by MPs. Especially after voting out the Liberals in part for their tendencies towards hiding such decision making and reasons from the public.

But you'd be wrong, as this selection of quotes from Globe and Mail readers shows:

From A.L. in Toronto:

It is quite appalling that the 'short list' was leaked to the press by the PMO. It is also disrespectful to put the winning candidate to an inquisitorial process. Rather than leading to a more transparent process, this only serves to highlight the increased politicization of the courts by this government.

Dom Perignon in Pemberton, B.C.:

Kind of ridiculous to subject your winning candidate to a 3 hour charade. I can't think of any job anywhere in government that requires the candidate to get up in front of national TV so that MPs with an agenda can dig up dirt... certainly not MPs and Ministers. What a joke.

Joseph Cheng in Toronto:

The only parties benefiting from this process are the Bloc and the separatists in Quebec. It'll provide them with a repercussion-free forum to ask hypothetical questions for their propaganda purposes such as 'Will you block Quebec to become an independent country if the separatists squeak through a referendum in Quebec?' Or 'Will you block Quebec to send its own representatives to the UN and other international organizations?' I hope other members on this panel will have the guts and instincts to counter the Bloc if questions or issues of an obvious propaganda nature are raised by the separatist.

Barrie Collins in Courtenay, B.C.:

To prevent this Prime Minister from further politicizing, and Americanizing, the Canadian Supreme Court, I suggest that the other political parties boycott this committee entirely. Let the PM appoint his own man. I would remind him, however, that many American Presidents have tried to appoint the 'right' sort of judge to their Supreme Court, only to find out that the appointees subsequently realized the far-reaching significance of the job, and judged cases on their merits, rather than political dogma.

It would seem that a significant number of people actually like the status quo in selecting Supreme Court justices, and the idea that they should be treated as a royal priesthood, supposedly above the squalor of politics and immune from questioning.

But then, there will always be people who worship Caesar.


primvs pilvs said...

The court in its "wisdom" has decided to write in laws, effect they have become unelected lawmakers. The more light we shine on this extreme court and its nominees the better. The fools who wrote these letters are sad.

hancor said...

Bring on the questioning.

The learned judges are acting in the public square. Why on earth should they be immune from public scrutiny?

Why shouldn't we, the public, find out what we are getting beforehand?

If they are interpreting a plastic document like the Constitution it would be nice to know the "flavour" of interpretation we, as a public, are getting.

Quo vadis iustitia?