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January 19, 2006
Harper bashes courts once again
Comments suggest he would politicize Canada’s judges
Ottawa—Stephen Harper has bashed Canadian courts once again. He said yesterday that some judges appointed by the federal government are activists working to promote their own social agendas. Mr. Harper made these comments a day after he said a Conservative majority government would be kept in check by the judges, senators and federal bureaucrats who owe their jobs to the Liberals.
This is not the first time Stephen Harper has criticized the courts. In September of 2003, shortly after the Ontario Court of Appeal extended equal marriage to same-sex couples, he alleged that the Liberal government and the courts had conspired. He said “I think it’s a typical hidden agenda of the Liberal party ... They had the courts do it for them, they put the judges in they wanted.”
These allegations were roundly criticized for various reasons, including the fact that Roy McMurtry, the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal and one of three judges who ruled unanimously in striking down the restriction of marriage to heterosexual couples, was appointed by Brian Mulroney.
“Canada’s courts are among the most respected in the world, because of their independence and thoughtful legal analysis,” said Laurie Arron, Egale’s Director of Advocacy. “Canadians rely on our courts to ensure that the government respects the rule of law and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
“Now Mr. Harper wants to change that,” continued Mr. Arron. “Mr. Harper wants our courts to be compliant, to bend to the will of Parliament rather than protecting our fundamental rights and freedoms. His criticism of the courts is a shameless attempt to damage their credibility. Why does Mr. Harper insist on seeing our courts as the enemy?”
“It’s ironic that Mr. Harper himself went to court asking them to strike down third party spending limit provision in the Canada Elections Act,” added Mr. Arron. “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.”
Mr. Harper’s Charter challenge was launched in 2000. In 2004 the Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Harper and upheld the law as constitutional.
“Mr. Harper wants to take Canada in a direction that the majority of Canadians do not want to go,” said Gilles Marchildon, Executive Director of Egale. “Canadians should think twice before voting for him.”
A survey released November 29 by CBC and Environics found that two-thirds of Canadians say the issue of same-sex marriage is settled and should not be addressed again.
Egale Canada advances equality and justice for LGBT people, and their families, across Canada. Founded in 1986, Egale’s work includes political action, legal interventions and public education and awareness.
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