Canada’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has joined other members of the legal profession to denounce Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s recent comments regarding the judicial system.
Last February Minister Kenney sparked uproar when he criticized Federal Court judges for not “toeing the line of the Harper government’s immigration policies.” He accused judges of stalling cases and not doing enough to help the government remove “unwanted” refugees and immigrants with criminal records.
In a stern public response, the Canadian Bar Association president issued a letter defending judges against the remarks, saying that the legal system is not intended to serve government policy, but to remain an impartial and independent judiciary.
This week, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin brought the issue back to light when speaking to the CBA governing council. She praised CBA president Rod Snow for defending judges who are not able to respond to such public criticisms, and for reminding the minister that the judicial system is not in place to serve political agendas.
“I was certainly — and I think all judges were — very pleased when an issue arose earlier this year when a minister of the Crown seemed to suggest that some judges were insufficiently solicitous to government policy,” said McLachlin. “We were very, very gratified to see your president writing a powerful public letter to the minister in question, reminding the minister of the importance of public confidence in an impartial judiciary, that bases its decisions on the law and not on government policy.”
She added that the criticisms from the CBA need to be taken seriously by legislators such as Kenney now and in the future, in order to preserve the values of this country.
“It’s very important when the Bar speaks out and says this is an important, institutional, democratic value, an independent judiciary, and we need to preserve it. And we’re grateful to the CBA for doing that.”
Source: National Post