Think tank names Supreme Court of Canada ‘policy-maker of the year’

Interesting comments coming from Benjamin Perrin, former legal adviser in PMO:

Mr. Perrin said the government’s biggest concern from its year of overwhelming defeats will be that its agenda is grinding to a halt. If that agenda “continues to be unravelled by the courts, it’s actually not governing the way that it wants to. It’s also politically quite embarrassing, and if people begin to think that the government is not understanding what the law is, and it’s not able to govern effectively, that becomes a very serious concern.”

Clarissa Lamb, a justice department spokesperson, defended the government’s record in court cases. “The federal government is involved in over 50,000 litigation cases every year. Our government is proud of our litigation record.”

The report sheds some light, if indirectly, on Prime Minister Harper’s decision last spring to accuse Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of inappropriate conduct. Mr. Perrin called the Prime Minister’s decision to engage in a public dispute with the Chief Justice “a symptom of the frustration that’s likely setting in.” The International Commission of Jurists criticized Mr. Harper over the accusation, which it found baseless.

Chief Justice McLachlin was the sole author of four of the 10 rulings, and wrote opinions in two more.

Mr. Perrin suggests the problem might lie in the quality of legal advice from the justice department or whether the government is heeding that advice. The government might consider retaining “eminent outside counsel” to argue some cases, he said. Until an internal review is done of its litigation strategy, it would be premature to conclude the losing streak is caused by a “fundamental rift in values between the federal government and the court,” the report said.

As Justice legal opinions are protected by ATIP, we will never know the degree to which the problem is the legal opinion or political willingness to accept it.

Perrin, given his experience in PMO, should have been able to provide some insights on where the ‘blame’ lies.

Not convinced that hiring outside counsel will improve things if the government is not willing to listen.

Think tank names Supreme Court of Canada ‘policy-maker of the year’ – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Think tank names Supreme Court of Canada ‘policy-maker of the year’

  1. Pingback: Benjamin Perrin: The Supreme Court of Canada won’t want this award | Multicultural Meanderings

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