Today's discussion:

There’s nothing wrong with appointing conservative judges

The reaction to Doug Ford's comments about appointing like-minded judges followed a familiar pattern: conservative governments are criticized, especially by members of professional legal associations, for trying to appoint judges who share their perspectives, particularly in the context of criminal justice matters. Progressive governments who do the same are ignored.

Read article

Comments (15)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please wait...
Your comment has been posted and should appear immediately.
You comment has been received but needs to be moderated before it appears.
Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again or contact us for help.
Biff Matthews

The role of a judge is to interpret the law and apply it to the relevant facts. Some people are more competent at this than others. The better judges should be appointed. The judgement of who is more competent should be made by politically independent people with the appropriate legal training and experience.

Yes, societal values are necessarily involved in some decisions. But, appointing judges based on their politics is starting down a slippery slope which quickly falls away from the rule of law.

5th March 2024 at 10:50 am

The judicial system needs to remain as a non political body. While appointments are made by government of the day, the appointments need to remain non political. We need only look at the U.S. where judges in the Supreme Court appear to be a political arm of the party who appoints them. The ability to apply the law appears to be overruled by the need to make decisions based on political need, not judicial. There is no perfect system but at least, in the current term, our judicial system is at arms length of the politicians as they appear to select those best qualified. Fortunately, we do not elect judges. This would lead to the politicization of our judicial system.

5th March 2024 at 10:09 am

There has always been cronyism.
Perhaps it’s just not as overt and uncouth as it is with Premier Ford. Here, unlike the USA, it has not always been obvious how people vote. But Ford has made it clear that his way will be different and very partisan. With his track record, it does not offer comfort that he will select based on positive qualities and performance but simply for bias.
Additionally, some of the reaction is fear due to recent very partisan actions of the USA Supreme Court not just with a decision to put Trump on the ballot but to protect him.

5th March 2024 at 8:09 am

Appointing judges consistent with your political values is part of democracy. Nonetheless said Judge needs to be objective, fair and consistent with the law

5th March 2024 at 9:36 am
Kenneth Chaddock

While an excellent article overall, Professor Harding has either missed…or is avoiding…the elephant in the room…and I wouldn’t blame him if he is avoiding what can become a career ending protest against institutional dogma.

This “elephant” is, of course, the sometimes blatantly progressive ideological capture of many (most?) of these societies and, the result favouring, promotion and imposition of a sometimes extreme progressive political agenda upon their members…and by extension, the clients of those members. Can anyone realistically believe that those societies would be politically neutral in a role in selecting judicial candidates ?

Further, since this is an agenda that does not accord with the views of the large majority of the Canadian people, their real or even perceived bias could discredit the judicial appointments and substantially reduce public trust in the legal system in general.

As a result, the only possible response can be political and it is completely appropriate that it is. Otherwise judges and courts simply become another, and arguably the most powerful, instrument of suppression/oppression of the vast majority of the Canadian people.

5th March 2024 at 9:17 am

There is nothing wrong with appointing conservative judges but it is wrong to appoint Conservative judges.
It undermines the independence of the Judiciary which is a check on the power of government. If a Conservative judge had heard the case of the right of government to restrict wages, the outcome may have been different. Now, as it is, appointing people for their expertise, people who appear before the Courts can trust what is being said and done. It has been working well and there is no need to change it. People must come before political agenda. If it doesn’t, then those in government are not governing for all the people only those of like mind. Rights are lost. Wasn’t this the whole question of the “freedom” convoy, rights? If the rights of all are not protected, then no rights are protected.

5th March 2024 at 8:34 am
Graham W S Scott

Correction. The comment should read: equally critical that they not ignore quality…

5th March 2024 at 7:59 am
Graham W S Scott

Mark Harding is clearly a fellow conservative as he over reacts to the usual critics of Conservative governments. Consequently he misses the point. Ford’s statement of intent combined with placing confidents on the committee makes it clear, if you believe him that he is going to be extremely partisan in appointments. The comparison with Harper is unfair to the former PM. Harper appointed and promoted many judges that had no political record or were clearly never partisan Conservatives.
It is crucial for the political arm to maintain the right to choose but equally critical that they ignore quality on a partisan basis. Ford appears to have violated that, Harper did not!

5th March 2024 at 7:54 am

Judges should be vetted by the legal community before any names are put forward to a government, since competence must be the first priority, not just some lawyer who is looking for an easy exit.

5th March 2024 at 11:32 am
Gary Oxenforth

Judges should be impartial.Judges in Canada are appointed by politicians therefore they are not.Perhaps Judges should be elected.

5th March 2024 at 9:51 am

Appointing judges is and always will be political. Unless you are a Liberal or NDP. then its just good hiring practices. Maybe we should be like United States and judges are elected by the people along with sheriffs. If neither do their job as the people expect, then they are out the next election.

5th March 2024 at 9:53 pm
Kim Morton

Obviously, politicians are going to appoint judges that agree with their political narrative. This is obvious with the Liberal appointees. The alternative is to elect judges. This has its own set of problems, like judges spending more time politicking than judging. The main problem seems to be that the various lawyers clubs think they should be the ones to decide who should be a judge, instead of either elected politicians or voters, involving another whole arena of politicking. Perhaps the answer is to draw straws, but with predetermined length of employment.

5th March 2024 at 11:43 am
Paul Attics

The drawing of straws or other random selection among qualified candidate may well be an improvement over the status quo.

There are lots of public roles for which the individuals that most want the role are the very ones that should likely not have the role.

5th March 2024 at 11:55 am
Michael Bath

It seems to me that granting justices a de facto veto power over acts of parliament, based upon a highly ambiguous charter of freedoms, creates a motivation for politicians to appoint justices who would be more likely to support their legislation.

5th March 2024 at 11:42 am
Robert Nedlit

I wood prefer to see a committee made up of 9-13 folks ,, where the majority are made up of the party in power, but just by 1 person,, the rest of the committee comes from the opposition based on numbers elected,, the judges would then be elected by the committee with all sides presenting judges of preference,, the only rule would be 75% of the committee must agree,, the odd numbered person must be a retired judge that all 8-12 agree on,, they would only have 60 days to fill vacancies, the committee would stand as long as the governmt was in power,, if every one was happy with them they could stay on in positions for no longer than 4 terms a of any governmts,, the exception being the 1 majority person of the governmt in power

5th March 2024 at 11:14 am