Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Harper's Latest Supreme Mess

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Harper's Latest Supreme Mess

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Harper's latest Supreme mess


An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Sept. 19:

The Harper government has exceeded its reputation for pettiness by ditching the process for vetting nominees to the Supreme Court of Canada and blaming the media for its decision.

The government did not hold a parliamentary committee hearing or establish a selection panel for the recent nomination of Justice Clement Gascon because it was worried about leaks to the media.

The Globe and Mail earlier this year published the government's confidential list of six judges on a shortlist to fill a Quebec vacancy on the court. The position was filled by Justice Marc Nadon, whom the court subsequently ruled was ineligible for the post.

Stung by the reversal, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his justice minister, Peter MacKay, lashed out at Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, accusing her of trying to interfere in the process. In fact, all she had done was try to warn the government one of its potential nominees might not qualify for the job because his legal credentials as a Quebec jurist were not appropriate.

Harper's attempt to smear Justice McLachlin's reputation was a new low, which was widely criticized by the legal community as an attack on the independence of the judiciary.

In any event, the government's reasons for abolishing the process, which it introduced in 2006 to increase transparency and improve the selection process, are absurd.

The Globe's disclosure of the names on the government's secret list did not undermine the process or threaten democracy. Leaks and embarrassing disclosures are part of governing in an open society, but Harper clearly wants none of it.

God help us if information in the next federal budget is leaked, unless, of course, it is information the government wants leaked.

Under the appointments process that Harper has eliminated, a parliamentary committee screened a list of potential nominees and held public hearings. …

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