At The Bar: Bench depressing with Peter MacKay

Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s pre-Christmas blitz of judicial appointments, 31 learned asses dumped on various benches in two days, did little to disguise the sheer awfulness of his Ontario Court of Appeal picks

Hilarious enough to see Superior Court Judge David Brown, the tough-on-gays legalist for REAL Women and anti-abortion protestors who Harper elevated to the Superior Court in ’06, now bumped up to the appeals court. Deemed “a man of singular wisdom and integrity” by none other than Michael Coren, what more needs saying?

But Brown, for better or worse, is an actual judge and knows his way around a courtroom. His appointment was a masterstroke compared to that of Kiwi kook Grant Huscroft, the disagreeable prof from the pisse-pauvre Western law skool, whose chief credentials are that he despises the Charter, toadies to those in power and professes judges should keep their learned gobs shut and toe the government line.

The monkeywrenching of the Court of Appeal has been shocking and is almost complete. In the space of four years, the Tories have reduced it from arguably the finest court in the country (significantly better than the Supremes have been for years), to a woeful collection of unqualified non-entities, politically-simpatico mediocrities and Charter-busting constructivists.

Legal giants like Arthur Martin, Charlie Dubin and James Brooke are long gone.

The only true heavyweights left are David Doherty, a superb writer in the criminal law field, and Gentleman Jim MacPherson, Eileen Gillese and Eleanore Cronk. All but Cronk are considered just a gavel’s length away from going supernumerary.

And now-supernumerary Justice Marc Rosenberg, one of the other top ranked criminal law experts in the country, is battling brain cancer and not expected to play much of a role on the appeals court for some time to come, if ever.

Even the week before these latest egregious appointments, Pollyanna rumours persisted that Justice Michael Code would be elevated to the OCOA and Mark Sandler taken from the ranks of practitioners.

Both would have been stunningly solid and much-approved appointments, so they were of course passed over in order to put more devotees of Harperthink on the province’s highest court.

Code made the mistake of messing around with a portion of Harper’s mandatory minimums agenda, marking him as an enemy for life. And while Sandler is strategic and well connected, there was too much of a risk that, once installed, he would be his own man, rather than dancing with the ones who brung him.

Appellate law is traditionally the apex of a practice, and Ontario legalists are heartsick at the prospect of going in to face panels of ideologues, unknowns and never-dids, who would be better employed churning out reports for the Fraser Institute.


  1. The Harperites have since the start been appointing dull plodders to superior courts across the country, provided only that they “think right”. The result will be seen in the streets. Those who don’t worship big oil and small business have few other places to go.

  2. At least Peter is consistently appalling. From his Breaking of his written promise to not merge the PC’s with the lunatic fringe, he has never failed to disappoint. Talk about hiring the handicapped!

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