Mixing Justice and Politics: Cabinet Members Allowed to Be Appointed as Judges

The Harper government seems perfectly willing to push the limits between executive and judicial function. In the past, this government has ignored court decisions when they don’t suit the Tory agenda, but now they seem to be directly interfering with the legal system.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson declared on August 13 that Federal Cabinet members should not be ruled out for judicial appointments. This statement follows rumors that current Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, may be appointed as a judge in Manitoba after the Harper government appointed three Conservatives to the selection board. Nicholson did not directly name Toews, but said he was not in the business of eliminating anyone or any group of people from potential appointments.

With a Senate already stacked in Stephen Harper’s favor, despite his promises that he would not name any new Senators, this opens questions of Harper stacking the courts in his favor whenever openings come up.

The government has already shown disdain for the courts, ignoring the Supreme Court ruling that Omar Khadr’s rights were being violated among others. Ministers have also been attacking the courts for striking down elements of the government’s beloved omnibus crime bill, particularly the provisions for mandatory minimum sentences.

Based on the crime bill, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has asked that the Justice Department to review legal aid funding. The crime bill is increasing demands on the system, said Dan MacRury, the chairman for the CBA’s national criminal justice section. Nicholson was unmoved by the request, saying that the government has managed to maintain current levels of legal aid funding despite cutbacks across the board.

The Harper crime bill is also putting extra strain on the prison system, forcing double bunking and causing an increase in violence in some prisons.

The crime bill is another case where the Tories are determined to ignore the best advice of people working in the system and do what’s best for their base vote.

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Photo Credit: Dan4th Nicholas


Patricia N.
Patricia N5 years ago

How I hoped Harper wouldn't get a majority because I knew he would start doing what he is now doing. I always vote NDP or Green and wish more would.

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago

let's keep them separate

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V5 years ago

legal bribes


Sandra Dahms
Sandra D5 years ago

Here is the Harper government again showing disdain for the people of Canada. Although being a member of cabinet may prepare you for guerrilla warfare and the gossip rags it does not equip you to pass judgement on fellow Canadian citizens nor give you a working knowledge of how to apply the law.

This is just another case of the politicians being out of touch with the people they are elected to govern and it is not just Conservatives. By the time any political party comes to power they seem to no longer represent the people that got them there.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely!

Michael O.
Michael O5 years ago

It just keeps getting worse and worse with each passing day under the Harper regime...

By the way, whenever I question a Conservative supporter about the Omnibus crime bill, and all of the tax money that we're wasting incarcerating people rather than rehabilitating them (especially when the crime rate in Canada is going down), I never seem to get a straight answer. In fact, the question is usually ignored or is glossed over with some vague justification that they "were given a strong mandate" to do this; basically, "We're a majority government, and we'll do whatever we damn well feel like."

Sadly, vengeance and a slavish devotion to neo-conservative ideology are now substitutes for rational analysis when developing public policy in Ottawa...

Phillip Ferrell
Phillip Ferrell5 years ago

It's the same old crap no matter where ya go, ain't it?

Joachim S.
Joe S5 years ago

UN wont do nothin. I think they work for the UN!

Ice B.

If everyone who says 'I am not going to vote because I don't like the way the major parties do things' voted Green, there would be a change in Ottawa. Elizabeth May is likely one of the most intelligent people on Capital Hill, she works well with others, and actually reads the bills presented, which is more than can be said for the majority of the members. People do not realize that they have the power to make a change. Don't just sit home and bitch about the conditions in Ottawa, and lack of trust. If everyone who refuses to vote, voted Green, there would be a huge change in this country.

John Helak
John Helak5 years ago

To all the folks up North...because you were good enough to shelter many of us during the Vietnam War, I think we should return the favor and open hearts and homes to you now.

Linda Wallace
Linda W5 years ago

This is wrong on so many levels but then so is the Harper government.