Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Price Of Justice

The Court Party was horrified at the lèse majesté committed by Stephen Harper when he had his first Supreme Court nominee subjected to a little gentle questioning by vulgar politicians.

Now it is sounding the alarm at the latest attack on its prerogatives: the reduction of a proposed pay raise!

Stephen Harper's Conservative government is expected to tell the country's 1,100 federally appointed judges next week that they will not receive a promised pay raise of almost 11% because it is too rich when compared to the Canadian average.

The rejection of an independent commission's recommendation is bound to spark an angry outcry from judges, who say the government would be turning its back on the principle of judicial independence.

The government is seeking a "middle-ground option," that is more in line with the rise in the cost of living, said a government insider.


Two years ago, the commission recommended a salary increase of almost 19% over four years: 10.8% in the first year and mandated cost-of-living increases in the remaining three.

The recommendations would immediately increase judges' salaries to $240,000 from $219,400. Chief and associate chief justices would earn $263,000. Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, would earn $308,400 and the other eight Supreme Court judges would each receive $285,600.


Justice Robert Blair, president of the Canadian Superior Court Judges Association, said he has written Mr. Toews pleading the judges' case.

"Judicial independence is at stake here," said Judge Blair, an Ontario Court of Appeal judge.

"Judicial remuneration is supposed to be subject to this process that is designed to de-politicize the fixing of judicial salaries so they don't become a political football."

Judge Blair would not comment on what, if any, action the judges will take if they do not receive their raise.

Mr. Justice Blair's fears for the principle of judicial independence are much exaggerated. His peers' salaries are not being cut for opposing the government's wishes, or raised as an inducement to support them, nor are they likely to be used as political weapons in the future.

Our judges will still get a raise, just not as much of one as they would like.

And they will still be within the top 1% of salary earners in Canada, with the added protection of being virtually unremovable.

And their work in dismantling Canadian society through their manipulations of the common law and interpretation of the Charter of Rights will continue unabated.

For if the judiciary is to be reined in, it will not be by taking away its pay raises but its powers.

Source: National Post

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