Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 25, 2008
Group want chief justice fired
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
More than 40 organizations are seeking the removal of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin because the advisory council she chaired recommended abortionist Henry Morgentaler for the Order of Canada.
The groups, which include the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) and the Calgary Diocese, filed a complaint Aug. 12 with the Canadian Judicial Council saying McLachlin demonstrated "bias," a "political agenda" and a "disregard" for the constitution of the Order of Canada.
The chief justice, however, has distanced herself from the appointment. Speaking to journalists at the annual gathering of the Canadian Bar Association Aug. 16, she described "rumours" about the process as "misinformation."
"My view is that I'm there to make sure that the meeting runs well and fairly and that the vote is taken fairly and not to weigh in for or against a particular candidate," McLachlin said, according to Canwest News.
She said she held the position as chair "by law" and did not vote for or against candidates.
The complaint letter, signed by Canadian Family Action Coalition executive director Brian Rushfeldt, outlines seven areas of "judicial impropriety" including:
- The order's constitution "disallows" nominees who have faced official sanctions or reprimands but the council ignored the fact that the Professional Corporation of Physicians of Quebec revoked Morgentaler's licence for a year in 1976.
- The constitution requires rejection of candidates who significantly depart from societal norms, but the council failed to reject Morgentaler who broke Canada's abortion laws for 19 years.
- Order of Canada regulations do not allow a new advisory council to overrule previous council's decisions, even though two previous councils had rejected Morgentaler.
- The council has required a consensus for a nominee, but departed from this tradition in Morgentaler's case.
- The Chief Justice "compromised the Supreme Court of Canada's neutrality, impartiality and integrity by overriding regulations" to approve Morgentaler's award.
McLachlin denied there has been a practice of consensus.
The practice has changed in her tenure. Order of Canada expert Christopher McCreery told the Globe and Mail July 5 that previous advisory councils worked on a consensus model, whereby every member had to agree with every appointment.