Friday, September 11, 2009

What was that about appointing idealogues?

“Imagine how many left-wing ideologues they would be putting in the courts, federal institutions, agencies, the Senate. I should say: how many more they would be putting in?”
--Stephen Harper, in Sault-Ste. Marie, Ontario, September 3, 2009.

Yesterday's news of former Mulroney Tory Pierre Blais's appointment by Peevey Stevie as chief justice of the Federal Appeal Court fell below the radar for a whole slew of newsmakers unable to get their one-track gaze off the "upcoming election" meme. Luckily, the story did not escape the attention of the Canadian Press (view it here, via the G&M), where they know a thing or two about putting perspective into a news story:
Judge Blais was first elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative MP in 1984 and was re-elected in 1988. He lost his Bellechasse seat, just outside Quebec City, when the PCs were devastated by Mr. Chr├ętien's Liberals in the October 1993 federal election.

Judge Blais served in multiple junior cabinet roles under Mr. Mulroney before replacing Kim Campbell as justice minister in a January, 1993, shuffle. He co-chaired the PCs' national re-election campaign.

Critics of his tenure accused the Quebec nationalist of being more concerned with party politics than with justice policy.

As justice minister, he rejected mandatory anti-sexism training for judges at all levels. He also proposed lowering the age at which the Young Offenders Act applies to 10 from 12 and reducing the age at which adult criminal law applies to 16 from 18.
Clearly, the right-wing partisan appointments are in full swing under a minority Harper government. Patronage is something opposition leaders have been able to make hay with before, of course.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

During June and July 1984, outgoing PM Pierre Trudeau and incoming PM John Turner appointed at least 225 people, the vast majority of whom were said to be Liberal Party supporters, to senior level government positions as senators, judges, ambassadors, commission members, crown corporation executives and civil servants. Some of these appointments created a great deal of public criticism as an abuse of public office, and at least one member of Trudeau’s Cabinet publicly criticized Trudeau for ignoring competence in some of the appointments.