Doug Ford reiterates plan for ‘like-minded judges’ on Ontario courts

Click to play video: 'Premier Ford defends former staffers on judge selection committee'
Premier Ford defends former staffers on judge selection committee
RELATED: Ontario Premier Doug Ford is defending his government’s appointments of two former staffers to a committee that helps select provincial judges, saying he’s not going to put Liberals or New Democrats in those roles. Global News Queen's Park bureau chief Colin D'Mello reports – Feb 23, 2024

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has doubled down on his pledge to appoint “like-minded judges” to courts in Ontario as opposition to recent committee appointments continues to bubble.

Responding to a question from Ontario Liberal MPP John Fraser during question period on Monday, Ford said violent crime was increasing in the province, before pledging to add judges that share his point of view.

“I am going to make sure we have like-minded judges,” Ford said.

The growing spat over judicial appointments in the province comes after the Toronto Star reported former staff in the premier’s office had been added to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee.

The appointments were made by Attorney General Doug Downey, and Ford said Friday that his Progressive Conservative government got elected “to get like-minded people in appointments.”

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“I’m not going to appoint some NDP or some Liberal,” he said in response to a question at an unrelated news conference in Brampton, Ont.

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Ford suggested that judges and justices of the peace are too lenient on criminals, and are letting people out on bail too frequently, so he wants to see more judicial officials appointed who will keep people in jail.

On Monday, he repeated the point.

“We have a massive crime wave right now happening in our cities right across Toronto and the GTA,” Ford said.

“They’re kicking doors in, they’re putting guns to people’s heads and guess what happens, Mr. Speaker? They get out on bail. Then they go do it again. Then they get out on bail again and then they get out on bail. They’ve been out on bail eight times.”

The decision to appoint former staffers to judicial roles and then double down on the move has sparked backlash at Queen’s Park and beyond.

Doug Judson, the chairman of the Federation of Ontario Law Associations, previously said the move was “really disturbing.”

“That really undermines the very fundamental premise that our courts are independent of government, they are independent of political interference and that they are making decisions on the issues before them independent of political considerations or political ties to government, he said.

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In his question to Ford on Monday, Fraser pointed to the premier’s comments and an ongoing RCMP investigation into the Greenbelt scandal

“I just need to know,” Liberal MPP Fraser said, “Why does the premier think it’s a good idea to appoint judges who think like him while his office is the subject of an RCMP criminal investigation?”

— with files from The Canadian Press

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