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The Supreme Court of Canada Is Still Fighting with The PMO

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The Supreme Court of Canada Is Still Fighting with The PMO

When people think of the justices on the Supreme Court of Canada they often view them as being fair and impartial. They do not expect them to express their opinions unless it is about a case that is in front of them. Even then, they expect them to behave in a professional manner that is discreet and low key.

That is not what seems to be happening at the current time. Instead of keeping their opinions private, Chief Justice Beverly McLachin has made her views very well known in public forums. It all started with the appointment of Marc Nadon to the seat I Quebec. This appointment that was made by the conservative government of Prime Minister Steven Harper was voided in October and since that time the dispute between Harper and McLachin has continued in very public forums. The latest spat revolves around reports of critical statements that were made by McLachin about the appointment of Nadon and how the government used the selection process.

Adding to the dispute and why people are talking about it is the belief by some that the court is showing biased towards the government of Harper. They believe that the fact that Harper has lost 5 cases in a row in front of the court that were supported by Harper and his government. In the past, the court usually sided with the government when it was about issues that the government cared about.

The five cases that the court ruled on include:

  • The Bedford prostitution case – In this case the court ruled that the government could make whatever laws it wanted, but could not ignore empirical evidence and could not create laws that cause more danger.
  • The Nadon Appointment – The court said that they voided this appointment in the best interest of Quebec and Canada, but many people saw it as a rebuke against the choice made by Harper.
  • The senate reform – The court dealt with the idea of the partisanship of the appointments that have been made by the senate.
  • Sentencing code – The court made two decisions that dealt with the amount of time a person spent in prison for their crime. One case dealt with re-punishing repeat offenders and the other dealt with the counting of time spent in custody before a trial and how it was counted.

While it may not be completely clear of the reasons behind the fighting between the court and the Prime Minister’s office, it is hard to deny that it is happening. It is a political fight that neither side is going to win. The activist court of McLachin will continue to try to make peace with the government and the government will continue to fight against the idea of activism.

The dispute is not likely to end any time soon. The court has agreed to hear a case about minimum mandatory sentencing for illegal gun possession and is likely to take on a case that deals with having criminal pay a victim surcharge fee. Both of these ideas are being promoted by Harper’s office.

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