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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (with articles hotlinked).

US papers lead with the report on prison abuse—not good news for Rummy and the Pentagon. In the UK , delays at Heathrow and gas price increases are top of mind. France is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Paris —the third of its major celebrations this year.

The New York Times’ editorial board urges demonstrators at the Republican convention to keep their cool, and President Bush to condemn the Swift boat ads. The Washington Post’s editorial board praises Vice-President Cheney’s position on gay marriage and is concerned by, but understands, the Administration’s silence in the face of Israel ’s settlement construction. The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board says California-style conservation works and pans the energy policies of the two presidential candidates.

At home, it was a good day for Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron and perhaps for Canada , as a Commons Committee will now try to ascertain. Sort of. In Athens , it was a good day for Lori-Ann Muenzer and Alexandre Despatie, and a bad day for Perdita Felicien, as we can tell for ourselves by the photos.

The Globe and Mail has all of the above, along with a report from its man in Moscow on two suspicious plane crashes in Russia . Inside, Roy MacGregor, whose country is l'hiver, says we swagger at the winter not the summer Olympics. Bruce Little wonders whether an interest rate hike is on the horizon.

John Ibbitson says there’s more work to do on the process for appointing Supreme Court judges. I'd say he should read his colleague Jeff Simpson, who sees politics at play in the appointments.

The editorial board is scathing about the process —appropriately so, in my humble opinion--but then it goes and ruins it all by pooping populism on photo radar. On the comment page, law prof Allan Hutchinson makes the unpopular case for mandatory retirement. Speaking of unpopular, Marcus Gee says you should pray for Ariel Sharon if you’re interested in Mideast peace. I kid you not.

The Toronto Star fronts, in addition to R. Abella, their own Rosie—di Manno--on Perdita. (The Globe stuffs Christie.) The editorial board waxes poetic on a day of “victory” and "agonies” in Athens ; haven’t I heard this formulation somewhere else before?—a long time before.

Chantal Hébert considers the process for appointing SCC judges and comes down meekly on both sides. Gwynne Dyer says higher oil prices are a blessing in disguise. (Note to Star editor: Some day, I’d like to see a list of the 45 countries in which his column is published.)

The National Post fronts a tough column by Andrew Coyne calling on the Government to withdraw the Abella appointment. Fat chance. Though the editorial board shares his concerns, it ducks the big question by focussing on the process, which it finds deficient. (In its second and third editorials, the editorial board pans Olympic judging and generic drug prices.)

On the comment page, Lorne Gunter accuses the Liberals of stacking the judicial deck: “Paul Martin, once thought to be the Liberals' Great Right Hope, has produced what will likely be the most activist, left-wing court in Canadian history.” George Koch and John Weissenberger weigh in with a fine anti-Ralph Klein piece.

Elsewhere in CanWest land, the Montréal Gazette stuffs the new judges, instead fronting school closures and JTI-Macdonald seeking bankruptcy protection to avert its own closure. The editorial board praises Perdita Felicien and pans Olympic judges. It also criticizes the process for appointing those who will sit on the SCC, suggesting that the government has stacked the deck on same sex marriage. L. Ian Macdonald says we should stop whinging about medals and enjoy the Games.

The Ottawa Citizen fronts a local angle to the Supreme Court appointments and the military’s investigation into the Iltis jeep. The editorial board is less troubled by the judicial appointment process, viewing it as a pilot project. Like their colleagues at the Toronto Star, they have some fun dealing with Air Canada ’s cup-losing performance.

Whistle-blower Joanna Gualtieri weighs in on behalf of whistle-blowing. And the Citizen has today’s best correction: “Jeffrey Elliott was born at Riverside Hospital in Ottawa . After being sentenced to a year for robbery, he spent time at the Ottawa jail before being transferred to the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene.”

The Calgary Herald fronts the plane crashes in Russia , while the Vancouver Sun has word of the Rx Express train coming up and out here looking for Canadian drugs. No, not BC Bud. Premier Gordon Campbell also has drugs on his mind, and he weighs in with a piece touting the provincial pharmacare proposal. Barbara Yaffe likes the two new judges and says if you don’t you should vote out the Liberals. The editorial board says confidence in the Corrections system must be restored and demolishing half-way houses is not the answer.

In the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington wades in on the Milosevic trial. In Calgary , Rick Bell would like to get his hands on Alberta ’s big bucks, and Roy Clancy tries to explain Israel . And I’m still waiting for Greg Weston to return from his vacation.


Charron, Abella named to top court

The Globe and Mail’s KIM LUNMAN AND BRIAN LAGHI report:

“Justice Minister Irwin Cotler announced the historic appointments of two women jurists to the Supreme Court of Canada yesterday, setting the stage for unprecedented televised hearings today to scrutinize the selections.”

Here’s the lead in the National Post; If you have the time, check out these articles:

Supreme Court gender balance unprecedented

Abella praised as champion of equality

Charron has focus, discipline, passion

Charron seen as progressive on social rulings

Abella expected to be a superb communicator

New judges expected to maintain continuity

Grilling awaits Justice Minister


Deux juges progressistes accèdent à la Cour suprême

Justice minister to face special hearing today

Posted by Norman Spector on August 25, 2004 | Permalink


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See "'Just us' v. 'Justice' in the Supreme Court" and "The Statists take over the Court" at:

Posted by: Burkean Canuck | 2004-08-25 8:23:17 AM

How to safeguard judicial independence . . .

Those who oppose any meaningful parliamentary review of judicial appointments -- not the political marketing exercise engaged in by Mr. Cotler -- argue that to have a full and free-ranging examination of prospective appointees with respect to their judicial philosophy, their theory of the constitution and the Charter, et al., would compromise judicial independence.

But isn't it just the opposite?

Since the Court's power of judicial review was significantly extended in applying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Court has become increasingly politicized as people use the Charter -- often financed by the Court Challenges Program -- to ask the Court (effectively) to enact laws which Canadian legislatures have resisted or dragged their feet on. And the Court too frequently takes up the challenge. As a result, the Court's activist rulings and its wisdom are increasingly called into question and, even, public disrepute.

So, what a prospective judge thinks about the constitution and her general legal philosophy, including her thoughts on society, corrections, and other things, can be crucially important to the cast and general drift of future rulings handed down by the Court.

A meaningful parliamentary review of a candidate prior to her acquiring the power of judicial review is surely warranted. Once appointed, only through the hoops presented by the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) can Parliament or anyone else move to remove a judge from the bench. The Canadian Parliament long ago delegated this power to the CJC. So the claim that any candidate's independence is compromised is specious. What a parliamentary review might accomplish is a measure of accountability to the Cabinet who chooses candidates and makes the appointments, it might screen out candidates whose social activism might overcome the ethic of judicial restraint, and it might de-politicize the actions of the Court as a result.

Given a choice between a potentially politicized parliamentary review before appointment, and the increasingly politicized Court whose appointees have received no parliamentary scrutiny before the fact, I opt for the former. Keep politics in the Court to a minimum with a parliamentary review that screens out potential candidates driven by a socio-political agenda.

With that, we might just see the public reputation of the Court improve and, what's more, enhance their judicial independence.
(Cross-posted at "Burkean Canuck").

Posted by: Burkean Canuck | 2004-08-26 11:07:45 AM

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