Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"But ... but ... but ... how much did all this cost and from where did the money come?" ..... "I ... uhhhhh ... uhhhhh ... uhhhhh ...?"

Good Day Readers::

This is CyberSmokeBlog's sad, sad woeful tale about trying to find financial information on your taxpayer paid for Supreme Court of Canada.

It all began in mid-June of this year when CSB stumbled upon a very interesting article in one of the United States most popular legal blogs New York-based Above the Law the brainchild of Harvard educated lawyer Ellie Mystal.

It documented in somewhat surprising detail, at least by Canadian standards, a financial profile of each United States Supreme:

(1) An estimate of the net worth of each including an asset breakdown of their financial portfolios as permitted under existing American disclosure laws

(2) Where appropriate ditto for their spouses

(3) Their outside earnings both the amount and source including expenses paid by private sponsors

My Goodness thought CyberSmokeBlog this is relevant public domain information. Suppose a case comes before the SCC here and one of the Justice's holds stock in the company of a litigant? Will the lawyers arguing the case even be aware of such?

Please try not to cry!

CSB contacted the Media Inquiries ( listed on the Supreme Courts official website specifically directing it to Owen Rees?
Who he you ask? This handsome lad is the Executive Legal Officer at the Supreme House taxpayers built.

To date not even an acknowledgement. Oh for sure it's appreciated he's very busy working 25-hour days but doesn't he have staff to handle these kinds of menial tasks? If CSB has to contact his boss Beverley McLachlin to complain he won't be pleased. She's always telling Canadians it has a first class judicial system - perhaps so but the service at headquarters is a tad sloppy.

Or could it be CSB has been D-N-R-L'd (Do Not Respond Listed)?

CyberSmokeBlog's Questions

In our e-mail to Mr. Ress CSB shared the aforementioned Above the Law article with him noting it was researching a piece about financial disclosure requirements for Supreme Court Justices. Where was the information publicly available or was it?

But there's much, much more. Here's just a sampling:

(a) For any fiscal year how much did each Justice expense for activities not directly related to their hearing of cases - entertaining, junkets to deliver speeches whenever and wherever?

(b) Is there a limit on how much each can spend?

(c) Can they accept honorariums or other financial consideration for such off-bench work? Is there a limit imposed each year?

(d) When a speech/presentation is given in a foreign jurisdiction, are they obliged to provide a copy upon request? Otherwise is it not enriching their careers with zero taxpayer benefit?

Point (d) is interesting to note in that a reader after fighting their way through the bureaucracy that is our Supreme Court was finally able to get a reply to his request for a copy of a 27-page speech Justice RoRosalie Abella gave in London England in July of 2011 at The University College. The answer was a flat "No!" However, they were ultimately able to find a copy on line.

What's interesting is approximately the last 5-pages are essentially devoted to saying public confidence in the Canadian judicial system is at an all time low. Is that not in stark contrast with what Beverley McLachn would have you believe? If she's to be believed you have one of the best systems in the world. Wonder what her standards of comparison are third world countries?

So what's your policy or do you have one folks at "The Big House" - are all presentations/speeches made by Justices routinely announced and made available online? What about any off bench work?

Behind closed doors down at "The Big House"
CPAC's Catherine Clark has been running an interview series with each Supreme Court Justice.

While all good, fine, well and dandy it doesn't address some of the tough questions that need to be answered such as those raised above. But there's another one. You've all seen how raucous parliamentary debates can become so the Big question is on particularly divisive, contentious issues do the Supremes ever hurl coarse imprecation at each other or, heaven forbid, slap each other around?

To that end CyberSmokeBlog is prepared to offer its services as long as it can bring along one mystery guest. Final offer!

Clare L. Pieuk (Owen Rees)


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home