Saint John - Thursday, May 8th, 2014:
On May 5, 2014, Prime Minister Harper suggested that Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin had engaged in “inadvisable and inappropriate” conduct in attempting to make contact with the PMO by phone. The Chief Justice had, in July of 2013, advised the Federal Justice Minister about a potential constitutional issue relating to the specific requirements of appointments to the Supreme Court. She did not opine about the merits of any candidate, merely that there was a question for the PMO to consider in selecting candidates.
Beverley McLachlin is the head of the Judicial Branch of the Canadian Government. She is Chief Justice and the Deputy Governor General, and a Member of the Privy Council. As legal experts have since confirmed, it was her duty to have alerted the Prime Minister's Office to this issue and entirely within her purview to do so.
The Chief Justice, and all other judges, must remain impartial. This means that wrongdoing can be suggested, but they are not free to defend themselves in a public debate. Therefore, criticizing the Chief Justice publicly is unfair and imbalanced, because as a sitting judge she cannot respond.
The Atlantic Province Trial Lawyers Association is composed of lawyers who appear before the courts regularly. As an Association, we wish to voice our absolute disapproval of the comments of the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice regarding the Chief Justice in this matter. It is our view that she was acting properly, and it was inappropriate and misleading to suggest otherwise.
APTLA and its Members value and respect our judges and our courts. We are disappointed with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice for the lack of respect shown to the Judicial Branch of our Government and its head.
David Gauthier, President
Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers Association
Tel: (506) 657-2210
Fax: (506) 657-2208