Ontario’s judges gain political independence after being appointed: Attorney General

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’s attorney general raised new questions about the politicization of the province’s court system on Monday after declaring that judges will gain independence from Queen’s Park after submitting to the government’s vetting process.

The Ford government has faced criticism after Premier Doug Ford declared a desire to appoint more like-minded judges to the Ontario Court of Justice in order to enforce the government’s tough-on-crime policies.

The province appointed two conservative insiders — both of whom also lobby the Ontario government — to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee which is tasked with making recommendations to the government.

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Critics claimed the appointments are evidence of the government’s attempts to hire conservative judges in Ontario and raised concerns about the impartiality of the court system.

On Monday, Downey offered a “civics lesson” on how political separation works.

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“Once the person is appointed, then they get their judicial independence,” Downey declared in the provincial legislature.

“Judicial independence starts at the moment of appointment, not at the selection process,” Downey added.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the independence should be embedded in the vetting and approvals process, not at the conclusion of it.

“How is the premier going to find a like-minded judge if he doesn’t ask or if the process is politicized? It’s dangerous,” Schreiner told Global News.

Liberal MPP John Fraser said the government should be looking for “independent-minded people” to Ontario’s courts.

“You don’t appoint judges that come with a political philosophy or political agenda or because they belong to a political party,” Fraser said.

“People have to have faith in the courts.”

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