Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 2, 2006
Catholic lawyer appointed to the Ontario bench
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Pro-life and pro-family groups applauded the appointment of David Brown to the Ontario Superior Court bench, while abortion and gay rights activists reacted with dismay.
Brown, a Catholic, has represented pro-life and pro-family groups in a range of cases from same-sex marriage, to freedom of conscience, to sanctity of life issues.
"From what we understand, he (Judge Brown) holds these views himself," Carolyn Egan of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada told the Sept.21 Globe and Mail. "I think people should be aware of the views he has and how they could potentially impact on future decisions."
In a Sept. 22 Globe and Mail column, John Ibbitson agreed with those who accused the Harper government of stacking the courts with social conservatives. "When Mr. Brown has represented socially conservative legal challenges, it is clear that he has done so as a matter of personal and religious conviction, and not simply in defence of freedom of religion," Ibbitson wrote.
Ibbitson also accused the previous Liberal governments of stacking the courts with judges who shared their views.
Constitutional lawyer Peter Lauwers said, "It seems to be the received liberal wisdom that only people who worship at the shrine of secular humanism are fit for the bench. True believers of any other stripe are not welcome. If you are serious about your faith in God, and serious about integrating it with your life as David Brown is, then you are not qualified for the bench in Canada," he said.
Lauwers is not the only person concerned about religious litmus test applied to prospective judges.
"We live in a pluralistic society and we have built up a culture of public service that is inclusive and that no Canadian should suffer discrimination of any kind because of his or her faith," said Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) director Michele Boulva in an interview. "Even the critics of Mr. Brown's appointment admit that he is eminently qualified to sit on the Ontario Superior Court."