A difference of opinion between Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Supreme Court of Canada has now blown up into a public exchange of allegations and statements between the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.
Against the background of a number of Supreme Court decisions that have gone against the government’s intentions, the issue of the Prime Minister’s appointment of a judge to the Supreme Court, whom the court would rule ineligible, is what is now at the centre of a public controversy.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office Thursday night (May 1) suggested a level of contact by the Chief Justice that was “inappropriate” when she advised the government of a possible problem with appointments to the Supreme Court: “The Chief Justice initiated the call to the Minister of Justice. After the Minister received her call he advised the Prime Minister that given the subject she wished to raise, taking a phone call from the Chief Justice would be inadvisable and inappropriate. The Prime Minister agreed and did not take her call.”
Friday, the office of the Chief Justice released a timeline of the contacts between her, the Justice Minister and the Office of the Prime Minister, and a statement from the Chief Justice herself: “Given the potential impact on the Court, I wished to ensure that the government was aware of the eligibility issue. At no time did I express any opinion as to the merits of the eligibility issue. It is customary for Chief Justices to be consulted during the appointment process and there is nothing inappropriate in raising a potential issue affecting a future appointment.”
Globe and Mail – Harper alleges Supreme Court Chief Justice broke key rule with phone call – here
National Post – Tories incensed with Supreme Court as some allege Chief Justice lobbied against Marc Nadon appointment – here
Toronto Star/Chantal Hébert – Feud with Supreme Court part of a pattern for Harper government – here
Globe and Mail – Attempt to smear Chief Justice an affront to our constitutional system – here
Chief Justice statement – here
Toronto Star – Lawyers’ association calls on Stephen Harper to acknowledge chief justice did nothing wrong – here
Globe and Mail – PMO snubs lawyers’ request for clarity on allegation against Chief Justice – here