Friday, June 27, 2014

The legal establishment as "political bag people?'

Good Day Readers:

Hang out long enough at a Law Courts Building and it may not be long before you begin to hear, "See judge so and so over there as a lawyer they were a bag person for such and such a political party which explains, at least in part, why they were appointed to the bench." However, once there can they continue to pursue their career as a bag people? What, if anything, does The Judges Act, or other legislation for that matter, say on the subject? Anyone know?

The LaPresse article below raises this question. BTW, according to the Elections Canada website the maximum contribution a Canadian citizen can make to a political party or its leader is currently $1,200.

Clare L. Pieuk
Appointments of judges generous lawyers with conservatives

Hugo Grandpre
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Between 2007 and 2009, Robert Mainville, the Judge whose appointment to the Court of Appeal of Quebec is controversial paid nearly $5,000 to the Conservative Party, to Conservative candidates or Conservative Constituency Associations. (Photo: Ivanoh Demers, La Presse Archives)

(OTTAWA) Robert Mainville, the judge whose appointment to the Court of Appeal of Quebec is controversial, has contributed significantly to the body of the Conservative Party in the years before his appointment to the Federal Court of Appeal in 2009.

Elections Canada data compiled by La Presse show that the Montreal lawyer is not the only one to have been generous with the curators of the 13 persons named in the federal courts by the Harper government last week.

Together, the three lawyers chosen to go to the Federal Court have paid thousands of dollars into the coffers of the Conservatives in recent years.

Blair Nixon appointed to the Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary, for his part, is closely associated with the Conservative movement. The tax lawyer, with seveal oil companies among his clients, is a member of the Board and Treasurer of the Manning Foundation for Democratic Education. the organization was founded by former Reform leader and sponsor of the contemporary conservative movement Preston Manning.

Over $5,000

Between 2007 and 2009, Robert Mainbille paid nearly $5,000 to the Conservative Party, to Conservative candidates or constituency associations. These gifts added about $1,500 paid to the Conservative Fund in 2006 and nearly $3,000 to the federal Liberals between 2004 and 2006.

His last gift to the troops of Stephen Harper was in April 2009, two months before he was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeal. the limit at the time was $1,100.

Of the three lawyers appointed to the Federal Court 10 days ago, the famous lawyer Henry S. Brown has paid nearly $4,000 to the Conservatives since 2010 and about $1,000 to the Liberals. The other two, Keith Boswell and Alan Diner gave $4,000 and $200 respectively in 2007 only to the Conservatives.

Appointments challenged

These designations arise when judicial appointments by the Harper government are challenged like that of Marc Nadon, invalidated by the Supreme Court of Canada

Robert Mainville is a recognized Aboriginal law specialist who practiced in the Montreal office of Gowlings untl 2009. On June 13, the Minister of Justice announced that he would be transferred to the Federal Court of Appeal from the Quebec Court of Appeal as of July 1.

The reaction to the transfer was strong. A legal challenge was even filed by Rocco Galati, the Toronto lawyer who successfully challenged the choice of Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada a few months ago.

Several including Mr. Galati and opposition parties in Ottawa, fear that the Prime Minister is trying to do indirectly what it cannot do directly, and he appoints Mainville a Judge of the Supreme Court within the next few months. In the case of Nadon, the court ruled in March that the judges of the Federal Court of Appeal are not eligible to occupy one of the three seats in Quebec at the highest court in the land. A brief stay in Quebec could circumvent the rule.

For now, the federal government has not clarified its intentions, besides reiterating that it will respect the spirit and letter of the direction given in March. It also said that the transfer was made at the request of Judge Manville himself.

Based on skill

Ottawa has denied having been influenced by these political contributions. "Our government is always guided by the principles of merit and legal excellence in the selection and appointment of judges," said a spokesman for Justice Minister MacKay. "Each candidate brings extensive legal knowledge and extensive experience which will be significant assets within the Canadian legal system."

Please not that these donations are not illegal and even the opposition parties took care to defend the jurisdiction of Robert Mainville as a lawyer.

"I have great respect for all those lawyers and no one would suspect anything if you do not have a government that politicizes everything," said Liberal MP Stephane Dion when La Presse told him this information.

"But we are not in normal circumstances, said Mr. Dion. It is a government that attacks the Chief Electoral Officer, that attacks the Chief Justice, politicizing all processes that can touch it ... and that is why there is this concern

Judge Mainville refused to answer our questions. "No comment," said a spokesman for the Federal Court. The spokesman did not respond to our email about other judges.

Grand Chief of the Crees welcomes appointment

In a letter to La Presse the Grand Chief of the Cree Nation of Quebec Matthew Coon Come, has welcomed the appointment of Robert Mainbille to the Court of Appeal of Quebec. "Justice Mainville represented the Cree for decades, especially during the negotiations of the Pease of the Braves. He devoted his life to defend the poor and under-represented in Canada, and he did it with great success," wrote Dr. Coon Come. Contrary to what has been published recently in various English media articles, the professional profile of Justice Manville is not one that is consistent with the Conservative policies of the Harper government.


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