Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chief Justice of Canada smacks down socons

While I said why in a previous post why I thought Henry Morgentaler probably should not have been awarded membership in the Order of Canada (nothing to do with my pro-life position, by the way), I also accept the reasons given by the judging committee that sifts through the dozens of nominations that go before it. Nominations, it's worth pointing out, are actually made by ordinary Canadians and not the "elites" as alleged by some in the social conservative movement (if you don't believe this, here's the form from the GG's website).

According to the GG's office, about 700 to 800 nominations are received every year (though it doesn't say how many are repeat nominations). About 1 in 10 make the cut so to be invited into the Order is indeed a true honour.

I predicted some would resign from the Order in protest, and some have indeed done so. However, I was outraged to learn some social conservatives had applied to the Canadian Judicial Council to have Beverley McLachlin, the Chief Justice of Canada, removed from the bench. Why? Because McLachlin is also the chair of the committee that vets Order of Canada nominees.

My colleague at Bouquets of Grey shows how the claimed groups are actually less so because of double and triple store fronts -- all related to Canada Christian College. This is the tactic used by the US-based Parents' Television Council to bombard the FCC with dubious form letter complaints about "indecency" on TV, which a US appeals court called them out on last month when it threw out the "wardrobe malfunction" ruling by the broadcast regulators.

A couple of issues. First as Buckets points out a related group, the Evangelical Association, credentials anyone who has $50 and "promises" to take classes at CCC as a minister. This should raise hackles from the Vital Statistics Agencies of all the provinces, which traditionally has insisted on a university diploma in divinity or religious studies to be granted a license as a minister (which license can, among other things, allows the minister to perform both religious and civil wedding ceremonies). We expect professional standards from a minister which is why we license them. I want a real priest or minister to officiate at my wedding whenever it happens and insist on credentials that could be verified. Or I'd go before a judge. Otherwise, I'd rather have a Quaker wedding (where there are no ministers, just an exchange of vows before witnesses) than one officiated by someone who "graduated" from something akin to a diploma mill or had the perception of being one.

And second, as my other able colleague Impolitical notes, the protestors don't have a leg to stand on. It's not just because it's only Parliament that has the right to remove Section 99 judges like the Chief Justice (by a majority vote of both Houses of Parliament). If the Canadian Judicial Council actually accepted the claims of the socons and referred the matter to Parliament (something it's done only a few times before) it would send a chill because it would be the first time someone was sanctioned for what they believed, not actual conduct on the bench or a blatant conflict of interest.

The only two times in recent history the Judicial Council made such a recommendation was once in the 1990s (can't remember the specifics, but the judge resigned before a trial could be scheduled) and once just a couple months ago regarding a judge who issued a restraining order about the reconstruction of the St. Clair Avenue streetcar line in Toronto when it turns out he was also acting as an advisor to the group trying to stop the dedicated right of way -- and failed to recuse himself due to the conflict of interest. The decision, made by a panel of three judges and two lawyers (one prosecutor and one defence lawyer) and chaired by former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Clyde Wells (now Chief Judge of the province) is currently being reviewed by the council en banc. If the full council affirms the findings, it will go to the Château on the Rideau. Now, if Parliament accept the finding such allegations are true, that is indeed definitely something that should result in impeachment and removal of the judge. I'd go further in suggesting the Law Society should disbar the judge from returning to the practice of law.

Regardless of the merits of a particular case, an impeachment trial would tie up the business of both the House and Senate. If that's what the socons are hoping for with McLachlin, they fail to recognize that, ironically, that is precisely what the same socons object about when they complain about the Opposition Parties' slowing down the business of Parliament (when in fact it's the ruling minority government that has tried to slow down committees where the bulk of the work is done, as my colleague Sabina Becker notes).

It's also because, according to McLachlin herself, she takes her role on the Order of Canada committee seriously. So much so, that she recuses herself from voting on new members or promotions within the order unless there is a tie, which she has had to do only once. She made clear that she was not involved in the Morgentaler vote.

From the Montréal Gazette:

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin distanced herself Saturday from the controversial decision to name Henry Morgentaler to the Order of Canada, saying she was not the driving force behind the move and intentionally abstained from voting on whether to honour the abortion doctor.

McLachlin, as head of an advisory council that selects Order of Council recipients, shed light on the secretive process as she spoke for the first time about a debate that has persisted since Morgentaler's July nomination.

Canada's chief justice told a news conference she "made a personal policy decision" almost a decade ago to avoid getting involved in appointments by promoting any candidate or voting for their investiture.

"My view is that I'm there to make sure that the meeting runs well and fairly and that the vote is taken fairly and not to weigh in for or against a particular candidate."


McLachlin, who as a judge must be viewed as impartial, spoke of her struggle to reach "an adequate comfort level" in her role as chairwoman of the advisory body, which makes recommendations to the Governor General.

"I do it because by law I'm required to do it. It's not something I chose to do," she said at an annual gathering of the Canadian Bar Association. "I feel reasonably comfortable in the process doing it the way I have outlined that I do it, not getting involved in promoting a particular candidate, or advocating for a particular candidate or voting for a particular candidate or against."

McLachlin decried the "misinformation" that has been publicly circulated about her personally promoting Morgentaler. She also disputed news reports that it was unusual for the advisory council to vote on a candidate and that the group usually reaches a decision unanimously.

"There has been no practice of consensus," said McLachlin. Rather, the group routinely votes on a nomination and she said she has only voted once to break a tie.

This, you would think, settles the issue. I think it will from the perspective of her fellow judges as well as the regular lawyers who sit on the review panel. It certainly won't from that of socons, however. They'll say, let's just make sure we GOTV to ensure a majority in at least the House -- then we'll bully the Senate to go along with us.

Canadians will see such subterfuge for what is it. A blatant attempt to undermine the judicial independence that makes us one of the least corrupt countries in the world. We don't want, nor should we even desire, a politically responsive judiciary like exists in Mainland China or Saudi Arabia.

The Judicial Council should simply dismiss the complaints as what they really are, political interference, out of hand. Good on McLachlin for calling them out. And for the record, I would defend any judge, liberal or conservative, as long as they stuck to the accepted codes of conduct for judges and didn't make up their own rules as socons want "their" magistrators to do.

As for Stéphane Dion, all I can say is: These front groups for the Conservative Party (often operating with different hats from the same addresses, as proven) should be all the reason you need to pull the plug when Parliament resumes. We Canadians can no longer tolerate the schenanigans we've had to endure the last two years. America has been held hostage by the religious right, and we can't allow that to happen to Canada either. Stand up for Canada ­™, sir. Bring on the election.

UPDATE (9:27 am EDT, 1327 GMT): Just to clarify an important point so I'm not misunderstood: I would not have an issue with an evangelical minister officiating at a wedding if, as it turns out, I wind up getting married to a "born-again" woman -- the only proviso I would insist upon is a real university degree with real credentials. I simply have no tolerance for those who have "doctorates" or even a bachelor's degree from an unaccredited institute. And there are more diploma mills out there than those cited by critics.

It's those factories that put out many of the "leaders" we see out there, that discredit the good name of true evangelical Protestants; and they and their products should be ashamed of themselves.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.


Anonymous said...

The madness of it all: in response to "an anonymous complaint" to the Canadian Judicial Council about her conduct Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin claims that she didn't vote in (the) Morgentaler decision.

===Top judge didn't vote in Morgentaler decision===

I really mean it, in the eyes of editors of Globe and Mail the complaint presented by 42 organizations representing over a million people constitute "an anonymous complaint".

The Actual vote by Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin is mentioned only in point seven of the complaint. Other issues relate to her decisions as the Chair of Nominating Committee of the Order of Canada. Is she going to deny her decisions as a Chair?? She already claims that she was forced to preside over that fiasco.

Her claim that she was forced by legislation to sit as a Chair does speak well of her character as well, by law she stands second in line to act as the Prime Minister of Canada in case PM Stephan Harper falls sick, or dies. If that ever happens and she messes it all up as bad as she messed up on Morgentaler file is she going to offer us yet another "poor woman's excuse" for her nonperformance??

The best part of the latest pronouncements was offered by Chief Justice Scott head of the Disciplinary Committee of the Canadian Judicial Council who said, "The bottom line is, if it's not about misconduct, the complaint is going to be dismissed without asking the judge involved to comment."

This "magic distinction" that CJC keep on making between "judicial decisions" and "judicial conduct" is about to crash and burn while hitting the reality of this complaint.

This "ultimate excuse" that CJC keeps on using in order to refuse looking at the stupid judicial decisions that Canadians keep on complaining about is that such "judicial decisions" could and should be appealed to a court of higher jurisdiction regardless of the time lost and the cost of such "remedies".

This excuse of the so called “ultimate remedy” is not going to work in this particular case.

Since we are taking about Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin’s decisions as a Chair of Order of Canada Nominating Committee, the only appeal that anybody could ever make, as there is no higher court in this land, would ultimately be to the Supreme Court of Canada where Beverly McLachlin is acting as a Chief Justice. That being the case it is not possible to have her decisions, however stupid they appear to have been, overturned by anybody else but herself.

If we are talking about checks and balances is perforance of various branches of Canadian government, no matter how we slice it, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin has to step down in order to have this; “anonymous complaint", filed by 42 organisations acting on behalf of over a million people living in Canada, properly resolved.

BlastFurnace said...

A couple of points:

First, she's not second in line to the Prime Minister, she's second in line to the Governor General. And yes, it has happened before that a Chief Justice has had to act as GG -- when Jules Léger had to resign early due to illness in 1979, Bora Laskin stepped in until Ed Schreyer could be invested.

Second, as I noted in my post, several of these groups are actually fronts of other groups using the same addresses and phone numbers but different names. So it's far less than 42 -- 34 or 35 by my count. And the half a million figure is a bit disputable as well because not everyone in the groups necessarily supports this particular move. To use an analogy, the US Catholic League claims to represent the interests of Catholics but it really is an extremist group of about 60,000 -- out of 65 MILLION Catholics. Hardly representative.

If McLachlin can be proven to have been offering legal advice on the side to pro-choice groups and then making a decision against a pro-life group, then that's a conflict of interest. If she on the other hand has been acting as a neutral chair of a selection committee then that hardly reflects on her conduct from the bench.

Finally, if this complaint actually got traction, then of course the panel would be chaired by someone other than herself -- and of course she would recuse herself. But she's not going to sit aside as a justice when there are a lot of cases on the appeals docket; cases that require a full nine judge panel. A tie vote reaffirms the provincial or territorial appeals court and if that decision was deficient then the recusing judge -- unless there was a direct conflict of interest -- would be in dereliction of duty. That's not the same as not casting a vote for an honour unless there's a tie; in that case the Chief Justice is well advised to keep her opinions to herself unless called upon so as not to influence the panel's votes. We don't want every Dick and Jane in the Order.

The choice we must make is do we want an independent judiciary or a politically responsive one? We value the general neutrality of judges. An honours system like the Order of Canada is hugely different from the St. Clair streetcar case where Judge Matlow, his fellow judges found, rigged the decision. We throw out judges for obstruction of justice or sexual harrassment, not for specific decisions on or off the bench that were reached impartially.

Anonymous said...

The choice we must make is do we want judiciary that runs for the hills every time they screw up something and judiciary that denies any responibility for their own actions and decisions even unpopular ones or do we want judiciary that has integrity and stands by their actions and their decisions. Chief Justice sets example for all the rest of Canadian judges. Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin's public response to this latest complaint against her is enough of a bad example how any judge should not bahave that she should forced to resign.

Anonymous said...

Old boys’ errand girls took "decisive action" on abortion file.

Who arranged to give Dr. Henry Morgentaler the Order of Canada and why??

Chief Justice of Canada Beverly McLachlin publicly claims that it was not her decision. Governor General of Canada Michaelle Jean refuses to show her face and accept petition signed by 30000 Canadians demanding revocation of that decision.

Did Dr. Henry Morgentaler blackmail Marty Teplitzky "the Judge Maker" (see: in order to get for himself the Order of Canada??

Things, more and more, look that way.

Henry Morgentaler used blackmail in his letter to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1973, (see: ). It is more than likely that he either used blackmail or supplied evidence that could have been used to blackmail political opponents of Liberal party in 1975 in his dealings with Ron Basford than Canada’s Minister of Justice in order to get himself out of jail (see: ).

Marty Teplitzky is well known in Toronto legal community for running an escort agency and for providing underage boys and girls as sexual toys for Toronto Elite. Marty is also known for arranging videotaping of such sexual encounters and known for using such compromising and sexually explicit materials to "influence" everybody that is anybody in Ontario legal community.

Services of a discrete and unscrupulous abortionist are essential in smooth operation of Marty Teplitzky escort business as his female employees once in a while get pregnant with Marty’s clients. In this day and age of DNA paternity testing and feminists running court system such pregnancy might easily be converted into a financial windfall for a "lucky girl" and financial ruin for Marty’s wealthy client.

It is more than likely that over the many years that Marty operated his business such problems did develop and some of the “lucky girls” working for Marty’s escort business who tried to cash in on their "winning tickets" were delivered against their will to Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s abortion clinic and had their “lucky meal tickets” forcefully removed from their wombs.

If such or similar scenarios really took place in Teplitzky/Morgentaler business dealings, Morgentaler would have had very good cards in his possession that he could have used to blackmail Teplitzky.

Considering the fact that Marty Teplitzky have shown on numerous occasions how much pull he really has in legal community; in 2000 Marty arranged for his wife Nancy L. Backhouse nomination as a Superior Court Judge (see: ). In a same year Marty arranged that his wife’s sister Constance Backhouse become a professor of law at university of Ottawa (see: such developments would never go unnoticed by his loyal sidekick.

One could guess that both appointments must have been wedding gifts of sorts as there is a considerable age difference between Marty and his latest wife Nancy.

Marty’s unique position in Ontario legal community and his unique form of influence has been well utilised by his daughter Sheryl Teplitsky who set up and runs collection agency specialising in collection of unpaid debts from law firms in Canada, task that for normal mortals is impossible to accomplish (see: ).

Quite recently Marty ventured outside of promoting and rewarding members of his immediate family and arranged that Warren Winkler was honoured with Sara Laskin Award shortly before Winkler was officially, on June 1, 2007, nominated as a Chief Justice of Ontario Court of Appeals (see: and ).

These latest developments might have prompted Morgentaler who was twice refused Order of Canada to put pressure on Teplitzky to finally satisfy Morgentaler’s vanity or face the consequence of Morgentaler spilling his secrets to wrong people and toppling Teplitzky’s sex trade empire. Such threat if it was ever uttered would have been very serious due to the fact that Morgentaler does not have that much time to live so Teplitzky cannot retaliate against Morgentaler even if he were to try to have him killed.

If such was the case and Teplitzky buckled under Morgentaler’s demands than it would have made sense that while working his magic to get Order of Canada for Morgentaler Teplitsky would arrange same Order of Canada for his wife’s sister Constance Backhouse (see: ).

Can above theory explain Chief Justice of Canada Beverly McLachlin’s reaction to the complaint that was filed against her with the Canadian Judicial Council? If Chief Justice was in fact pushed and pressured by Teplitzky and his clients to name Dr. Morgentaler to Order of Canada than it would be no small wonder that she would refuse to become a fall person of Toronto Old Boys Club and resign from her position at SCOC as such development would be the ultimate irony and an ultimate defeat of everything that Chief Justice of Canada Beverly McLachlin ever stood for.

Political football as it is currently played in Ottawa guarantees that Conservatives are not going to let this latest controversy die as it presents them with perfect opportunity to reshape makeup of Supreme Court of Canada stack it with people who reflect their own philosophy.

It seems that Beverly McLachlin’s choices are limited at this time; she either goes alone on a plank, jumps overboard and signals complete defeat of feminist movement in Canada, (very likely scenario, as the beans are being spilled anyway) or she can use her position in order to try to sink as many members of Toronto Old Boys Club as she can while she still can. Such course of action might not save her current position but it might save feminist movement from total defeat and make her in time into real martyr of feminist cause.


Nobody at Rideau Hall to accept anti-Morgentaler petition
Laura Drake , Canwest News Service
Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2008
OTTAWA - A petition bearing 30,000 signatures calling for Dr. Henry Morgentaler to be removed from the Order of Canada had to be left at the gates of Rideau Hall Wednesday afternoon since no official at the vice-regal quarters was there to accept it.

Anonymous said...

“Dion prods Harper on abortion stance” at National Post

It is very interesting that Stéphane Dion would volunteer to start public discussion on abortion issue considering that not so long ago his wife Janine Krieber, has warned Canadians of possibility of terrorist acts by pro-abortion movement.

As far as we know Stéphane Dion and his wife are unable to conceive a child on their own and this is why they opted to adopt a Peruvian girl.

“Stéphane himself does not appear to be particularly religious. He only married his wife, political scientist Janine Krieber, so they could adopt a daughter, Jeanne, from Catholic Peru in 1988. Before that the two had lived together, like so many Quebecers of their generation, for almost 10 years — from when they were students at Laval,..”

It is still unclear if this infertility issue in Dion's family is caused by the fact that Stéphane Dion has no balls (well established fact of current political life in Canada) or is it because his wife Janine Krieber had way too many botched abortions performed by Dr. Henry Morgentaler at his Montreal abortion clinic.

If the second possibility is the case than it would make perfect sense that Stéphane Dion prompted by his wife would make an attempt to strangle Dr. Henry Morgentaler and his supporters at the first opportunity he ever got (Hell knows no fury as woman robed of her fertility).

I somehow like the idea of Dion tightening the noose around Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin’s neck. Considering controversy surrounding nomination of Dr. Henry Morgentaler to the Order of Canada and considering the fact that Chief Justice is already back pedalling on this issue, Dion’s call on Harper to state his position on abortion is nothing short of Dion shooting Liberal Party in a foot. Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin and Governor General of Canada Michaelle Jean are currently the two highest ranking Liberals on government payroll. Both are mired in Morgentaler controversy, so why is Dion pushing on abortion button ???