Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fishnets and stilettos on the Supreme Court of Canada ..... eh?

Good Day Readers:

Recently concluded Douglas Inquiry Independent Counsel Suzanne Cote, who always showed up in black wearing fishnets and stilettos, has been named as the latest appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Whatever happened to a public bi-partisan parliamentary hearing to publicly vet the nomination even though the questions/comments were trite - "my father came to Canada during the depression with only a chicken in a brown paper bag ....." Oy vey. Here, when the Harper government chooses to have a confirmation hearing it's a tea party compared to the American experience where's it's a barbecue on national television. More deja vu from the Conservative government. Taxpayers are handed the decision as a fait accompli - "shut your faces folks and pay your taxes.

Imagine had she been appointed while.the delay plagued, error filled Douglas Inquiry were still in play? That would have driven the Canadian Judicial Council nutso!

CyberSmokeBlog's nomination for the next Supreme Court Justice? Rocco Galati - "Rocco! Rocco! Rocco!" Bet you don't have the cojones to do that Stephen Harper.

With this latest appointment at least there will be a fashion statement on the highest court. Congratulations "Justice Fishnets or is it Justice Stilettos."

Clare L. Pieuk


Regarding those fishnets and stilettos, let us not forget if there was one principle in law established by the Douglas Inquiry it was that Justices can wear whatever they please under those robes.

PM picks Quebec lawyer Suzanne Cote for Supreme Court seat

Sean Fine/Justice Writer
Thursday, November 27, 2014

Quebec government lawyer Suzanne Cote is shown in Quebec City on August 30, 2010. (Mathieu Belanger/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Suzanne Côté of Montreal to the Supreme Court of Canada today, raising the complement of women back to its high-water mark of four on the nine-member court.

Ms. Côté, Mr. Harper’s seventh appointment on the nine-member court, is the first female practicing lawyer appointed in the court’s 139-year history. Male litigators appointed to the Supreme Court include Ian Binnie and John Sopinka. Ms. Côté replaces Justice Louis LeBel, a liberal-minded judge appointed by prime minister Jean Chrétien who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 on November 30.

Ms. Côté is a partner and head of the Montreal litigation practice at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP specializing in civil and commercial law.

Simon Potter, a Montreal lawyer and a former president of the Canadian Bar Association, said she will be a “strong and independent-minded judge. A battler with a mind and a will, with a strong sense of individual justice.”

McGill University law professor Robert Leckey said Ms. Côté is known as an extremely aggressive advocate.

“Some people perceived her as needlessly pugnacious during the Bastarache Commission in 2010 [on judicial appointments in Quebec] when she was lawyer for the Charest government,” Prof. Leckey said. “You probably need to take such comments with a grain of salt – some people would suggest that women are judged differently than men, starting from an assumption that women will be nicer or gentler than men. So one might at least ask whether a man acting as she did would be so quickly characterized as aggressive. Still, that would clearly be the description of her on the street, I think.”

For the second Supreme Court appointment in the past five months, Prime Minister Harper allowed for no parliamentary input in the selection. The justice department, in documents tabled in the Commons this week, said the government is rethinking the process because of a breach of confidentiality in a previous appointment. That was a reference to a Globe and Mail story last May revealing that four of six candidates on a government list for a Supreme Court vacancy last fall were from an ineligible court.

While the Conservative government has criticized judges for not deferring to Parliament on social-policy issues, and Mr. Harper has expressed a wish for law-and-order judges, Ms. Côté’s judicial philosophy is untested.

“It is striking that this is another nomination without even the somewhat perfunctory passage via the parliamentary committee,” Prof. Leckey said.

From 2004 until last fall, a parliamentary committee had winnowed the government’s list of candidates down to a short list of three, for the Prime Minister to choose from. And Mr. Harper was the first Prime Minister to put his nominees before a separate committee for a televised question-and-answer session in Parliament. That hearing, too, seems to be a dead letter, based on the justice department documents tabled this week in response to questions from Liberal MP Irwin Cotler.

The appointment of Ms. Côté, after three previous appointments from Quebec of men, may help Mr. Harper avoid controversy in Quebec City in an election year, although it departs from a tradition that one of the three Quebec judges on the Supreme Court come from Quebec City. The appointment puts to rest the notion that Mr. Harper would appoint Justice Robert Mainville, which could have led to a challenge at the Supreme Court much like the one last year in which Mr. Harper’s choice, Justice Marc Nadon of the Federal Court of Appeal, was ruled ineligible by the Supreme Court in a 6-1 vote.

The court went 10 months with just eight judges until Mr. Harper named Clément Gascon as his replacement. Justice Mainville was, like Justice Nadon, on the Federal Court of Appeal, but the government attempted to move him to the Quebec Court of Appeal last spring. Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati, who challenged the Nadon appointment, also filed a lawsuit against the Mainville appointment, and a hearing at the Quebec Court of Appeal on its legality is to be held in December.


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