Harper has picked a battle he can’t win: former Harper aide

Above: Former Harper advisor Tom Flanagan says Prime Minister Stephen Harper can’t win his fight with Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

OTTAWA – Former Harper advisor Tom Flanagan says in picking a fight with Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has picked a battle he can’t win.

“Lawyers in Canada love their judges and they will rise up to defend the judiciary,” Flanagan told Tom Clark in an interview with The West Block.

At the heart of the issue is Harper’s insinuation that McLachlin acted inappropriately by trying to initiate a meeting with him to discuss potential legal problems with appointing federal court judges for Quebec positions on the Supreme Court.

READ MORE: ‘I, personally’ did not ask Nadon to resign and join the Quebec bar, MacKay says

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A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office exposed an unusual dispute between two of Canada’s three branches of government and legal experts say it could put the independence of our justice system at risk.

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“I’ve never seen such a shot taken at a court, and my concern is that it’s not cheap… It’s a very expensive shot at a court that will undermine its credibility and its perceived independence in this country,” Thomas Heintzman, past president of the Canadian Bar Association, told Tom Clark on The West Block.

Heintzman also said McLachlin did nothing wrong. He added that she was in fact fulfilling her constitutional obligations.

WATCH: Former President of the Canadian Bar Association, Thomas Heintzman, tells The West Block he worries Stephen Harper’s attack on Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin will politicize the court and cause Canadians to lose respect for the institution.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair echoes Heintzman’s concerns. He says separation between the executive and judiciary branches of government must be clearly defined.

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In an interview with Tom Clark, Mulcair said, “personal attacks are the hallmark of the Stephen Harper government and anybody who disagrees with them gets thrown under the bus or if they resist, then they get personally attacked.”

-With files from The Canadian Press

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