The thrust of Mark Kennedy’s article on John Ibbitson’s biography of our Dear Leader is that the Prime Minister opposes the power of the Supreme Court to derive the country it wants by its powers of interpretation of the constitution. Good for him.
It is not what parliament wants, nor what the federal and provincial governments want: it is the country that the nine members of the Supreme Court want.
In his book, Ibbitson writes of how Harper’s distrust of judges stems from a long-standing concern over judicial activism in the wake of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The book reveals that once Harper took power in 2006, he grew increasingly frustrated with how the court’s rulings were overturning his legislative policies, and how it had established itself as the “unofficial opposition” to his government.
“Harper has repeatedly complained to his inner circle that, under Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, the Court has become a sociology seminar, with the judges/professors able to turn their theories into laws, and Parliament unable to stop them,” according to the book.
Ibbitson writes that Conservatives lamented the advent of the Charter in the 1980s, fearing that courts would override Parliament.
The top court “obliged their worst fears” with rulings that have limited police powers, struck down the abortion law, and extended civil rights to gays and lesbians.
“For Stephen Harper, this was simply another way in which liberal urban elites in Toronto and Ottawa and Montreal imposed their agenda on the rest of the country.”
Obviously this is true. Clearly it is not an allowed thought in the Liberal/Court Party.
But listen to Ibbitson, as reported:
Ibbitson writes that Harper’s criticism of the chief justice set a “dangerous precedent” and now ranks as one of his “most discreditable acts” as prime minister.
“Not only did he lose the fight; he tarnished his reputation and damaged what should be the sacrosanct separation of powers between executive and judiciary.”
To be blunter than I should be, suppose your program of government is being deliberately dismantled by the Supreme Court, and not merely are you obliged to take the criticism, and accept the obloquy of being chastized by the Court, and accept that your legislative program has been gutted, but you are supposed to defer to nine professors of sociology who wear ermine robes as if their opinions were better than your own?
And by deference I mean that, according to the Court Party, of which Ibbitson is a member, you are not allowed to refer to the existence of obviously political judgments as such?
I have every sympathy for Harper. He is correct in his analysis. Beverly McLachlin is tossing her pisspot out the window just as Prime Minister Harper passes underneath, and by the lights of the Court party, he is supposed grin as if he were happy. I could not do that, nor could you. Nor could Ibbitson.
There is no “sacrosanct constitutional relationship” between the Supreme Court and the ruling party or the prime minister. The sacredness of the Supreme Court is an invention of the Court party to shield it from rational inquiry and criticism by the other parts of the government, and the people itself. The Prime Minister is not supposed to have them shot, nor should he dock their pay, nor threaten their lives, liberty or property. I am sure that list of prohibited behaviour can and should be lengthened
But he ought to be able to call them on their judicial bullshit.
An 18th century British sovereign had less immunity from criticism than Beverly McLachlin.