December 20, 1999 Faxed to: (416) 585-5085
Globe & Mail
444 Front Street
Re: “Politicians must not be allowed to orchestrate court appointments” (December 18, 1999)
Professor Jacob Ziegel’s article, critical of the deleterious effect of political and patronage appointments which undermine the independence and integrity of the judiciary, is excellent and timely indeed. However, he might have taken the issue one step beyond the entry or candidate stage.
Once a judicial appointment has been made and judges begin hearing cases, their impartiality can also be compromised by less subtle means. This is evident when a Justice Minister expresses disappointment with the outcome of verdicts or judgments with which he or she disagrees -- as was the case with Anne McLellan’s disapproval of the result in Vitols. Conversely, this is seen in the elevation of judges as a reward for reaching judgments with which a Justice Minister agrees -- as was the case with the judicial promotion following Kisluk, awarded again by Minister McLellan.
No one can seriously doubt that the impartiality and independence of the Federal Court, not to mention the rights of the accused in all denaturalization and deportation cases, were both dealt mortal blows by the Justice Minister’s actions, at least as undesirable as the appointment process Prof. Ziegel decries.
Eugene Harasymiw, LL.B.