Archive for the ‘Supreme Court’ Category

Supreme Court as election issue

- May 2nd, 2011

Is the Supreme Court an election issue?

Should it be?

Philip Slayton thinks the answer is yes. I interviewed the lawyer and one-time Supreme Court law clerk late last week. Slayton discusses the issue of activist judges in his new book Mighty Judgment but he also points out something fascinating, the next prime minister could appoint as many as four new Supreme Court justices in the next four years.

No one that has ever been near the court believes that it is an apolitical body so whoever appoints the next four judges will have a dramatic impact on Canada well into the future, a point Slayton made when he dropped by the Sun News studio in Ottawa.

So, while it may be late in the game, it is an interesting point, what kind of court do you want? Do you want a court that is more activist and that views the Charter as a living document that can be read into? That appears to be the majority view in Canada in the courts. Or do you want judges appointed that apply and interpret the law as written?

I’m not sure we can say the lines are as clearly drawn as they are in the US but it is a point to consider.

Top court says get your own money for epanded welfare cheques

- March 4th, 2011
supreme court

The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. The court ruled Thursday that Quebec could not force the feds to pay for welfare cheques, which are a provincial jurisdiction. ANDRE FORGET QMI Agency

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court told Quebec on Thursday it can’t demand federal tax dollars to fund expanded welfare services in the province.

Quebec began court action against the federal government in 1996, asking the Federal Court of Canada to force the feds to send more money to Quebec City for social service programs in schools, programs to help people with disabilities and programs geared at juvenile delinquents.

via Top court rejects Quebec’s call for cash | Canada | News | Toronto Sun.

Court rules parts of Reproduction Act unconstitutional | Canada | News | Toronto Sun

- December 23rd, 2010

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court has delivered a split advisory ruling in a case involving the regulation of in vitro fertilization, cloning and the creation of human-animal hybrids.

–big snip–

Despite the ban on chimeras, or human-animal hybrids, one of the provisions struck down (section 11) deals with transgenic manipulation and so each province will now deal with what could turn into a very controversial issue.

Transgenics involves the mixing of parts of the genome from different species, meaning human and non-human.

Read the whole thing….

via Court rules parts of Reproduction Act unconstitutional | Canada | News | Toronto Sun.

Supreme Court bilingualism battle ramps up again

- December 8th, 2010

There is a standoff brewing in the Senate that could soon turn into an all-out war over the issue of making Supreme Court judges bilingual.

Liberals in the Senate are telling the Conservatives that if they want help passing legislation they find important then they better be ready to deal with the top Liberal priority, bill C-232. The bill originated in the House with New Democrat Yvon Godin and passed last spring with the full support of the Liberals and Bloc.

The bill would add a short amendment to the Supreme Court Act by saying that a person, “may be appointed a judge who understands French and English without the assistance of an interpreter.”

Supporters of the bill claim it would only require a reasonable level of bilingualism. Critics, including a former justice of the court, claim it would severely restrict who could be appointed.

Retired justice John Major told me last spring that only three of the nine judges currently on the bench would have qualified if this rule were in place when they were appointed. Major, who speaks some French and is married to a Francophone, told me that the complexity of the cases heard by the Supreme Court means that to hear tax cases, criminal code cases and constitutional cases without the need of an interpreter would mean every appointee would need to be flawlessly bilingual upon appointment.

In Major’s eyes this would severely limit the pool of potential judges and make bilingualism more important than legal skills.

Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin was not bilingual when she was appointed to the court in 1989 but has since learned French and lived in a bilingual environment long enough that she is bilingual. I have been told that Justice Marie Deschamps, a French Quebecer would not have been qualified to sit on the court either under this law because she has needed translation assistance with English cases.

Supporters, including Graham Fraser the Commissioner of Official Languages, have said that this is the right move for Canada if we are to live up to our promise as a bilingual country.

The issue is highly emotional on all sides and will prove divisive what ever happens.

The Liberals have been accusing the Conservatives of stalling on the bill for months, a charge the Conservatives deny although it is clear they oppose passing the measure into law.

Unless the Conservatives stop putting up speakers on the bill and agree to pass C-232 the Liberals are threatening to hold up bills dealing with issues the Conservatives view as priorities such as C-35 formerly called Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants and C-31 the bill to take away Old Age Security payments for prisoners.

There is another bill the Liberals have put forward aimed at expanding bilingualism in the public service and government appointments, bill S-220. It will be interesting to see if they tie support for that bill in with the court issue.