21 July 2016

No qualified candidates? What nonsense. #nlpoli

Let's make two things clear at the outset.

First, the Globe and Mail is a rag.  It's reputation has more to do with snobbery than the quality of its content.

So right away, that the Toronto rag  wrote a story about the fact there are no candidates from Newfoundland and Labrador in the finals for the Supreme Court seat vacancy is the political, intellectual, and legal equivalent of some entertainment television show telling us anything about anyone named Kardashian.

Second, no one ought to be named to the Supreme Court of Canada based on their province of residence.  The qualifications for sitting on the highest court in the country ought to be about anything but something that has nothing to do with knowledge of the law, sound judgement,  belief in justice or any of the other qualities we would cherish in a judge.

With that said,  it is preposterous that there are no qualified candidates for the SCC from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Utter nonsense.

Under The Supreme Court Act ,  a person who has been a judge of a superior court of a province or a barrister or solicitor for at least 10 years is eligible to be a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.

There are plenty of capable, distinguished judges and lawyers in the province who fit that description.

Even if we allow - as the Globe claims - that bilingualism is a crucial requirement, there are still qualified candidates. We do not have to go to the extent proposed by Jerome Kennedy that we can nominate a smartie who promises to learn a few words of French over the court of a few years or stick an earpiece in and get a translation.

If the folks who look for candidates missed one out, let them look no further than Judge Harold Porter, currently sitting on the Provincial Court bench in Grand Bank.  Porter is fluently trilingual (English, French, and German).  He started his career in Montreal as a Crown prosecutor.  He had a distinguished career in this province as a Crown prosecutor finishing - if memory served - as the deputy director before he went to the bench.

Porter's experience includes military law but perhaps his most famous turn was arguing an appeal in front of the SCC in R v. Sheppard.  The case made the local papers because Porter got into a bit of a battle of wits with no less a person than Madam Justice Louise Arbour.  The case set a standard for the content of judicial decisions in Canada.  As we told you in 2007,  "Porter offered the view that a judge must offer some indication of the reasons for a decision. The length of the indication would have to fall somewhere in length between what had been offered by the trial judge in Sheppard and Marcel Proust's A la recherche de temps perdu."

So if the federal justice minister still has some time to mull things over or someone from Judy Foote's office reads this,  check out the guy down in Grand Bank.  There's no problem finding highly qualified candidates for a job like supreme court judge.  You just have to know where to look.