When Tories talk like Trump

When Donald Trump was elected President, one of my great fears was that his xenophobic know-nothing rhetoric would infect right-of-centre politics in this country.

And right on cue, here comes Derek Sloan, whom I had never heard of before he launched his longshot bid for the Conservative Party leadership, and whom I never hope to hear from again:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau slammed a Conservative MP’s statements questioning the loyalty of Canada’s top doctor to her country as Tory Leader Andrew Scheer refused to comment on the remarks.

Ontario MP Derek Sloan, who is running to replace Mr. Scheer as leader of the Conservative Party, called for Dr. Theresa Tam to be fired in fundraising emails and social media posts this week.

“Dr. Tam must go! Canada must remain sovereign over decisions,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Does she work for Canada or for China,” Mr. Sloan asked in a Facebook video posted late Tuesday.

Mr. Trudeau condemned the remarks in his daily news conference in Ottawa on Thursday.

“Intolerance and racism have no place in our country, Canada has succeeded because of our diversity,” Mr. Trudeau said when asked about Mr. Sloan’s comments and other anti-Asian racism in Canada that has resulted from the pandemic.

I know, a Conservative can’t blow his nose without being accused of racism by Liberals. But Trudeau isn’t wrong about this shameful dual-loyalty smear. This is the kind of rhetoric anti-semites use when they insist they’re just criticizing “the Israel lobby,” or Trump employs against judges who don’t rule his way.

Several Conservative MPs have spoken out against Sloan, though outgoing leader Andrew Scheer is refusing to comment. John Ivison, while acknolwedging several legitimate reasons for criticizing Dr. Tam’s performance, lets Sloan and Scheer have it:

The coded Canada-first language was a thinly disguised appeal for support from the intolerant fringe of the Conservative Party (Tam was born in Hong Kong).

But Sloan has no hope of winning the party’s leadership. He is currently confounding the maxim that there is no such thing as bad publicity and very soon he will fade into foot-notoriety.

My vexation is with the Conservative party establishment.

Even though leader Andrew Scheer is a lame duck, he is still responsible for the credibility of a venerable political party that professes to represent all Canadians.

In a multi-ethnic country where visible minorities make up a quarter of the population, no party tainted by racism can win power.

Yet when Scheer was asked to denounce Sloan’s statement, he turtled, saying he did not want to comment on the behaviour of a leadership candidate. That didn’t stop then interim Conservative Rona Ambrose dumping on Kellie Leitch’s bogus “Canadian values” test in the last leadership go-round.

If Scheer doesn’t see the need to decry comments from a sitting member of caucus that tars all Conservative MPs and the party with the brush of intolerance, he should go now.

[…]

Tam can be accused of complacency. She can be denounced for blindly following Tedros Adhonam Ghebreyesus, who finds himself in disrepute for failing to alert the world earlier about COVID-19’s virulence. The WHO’s director general is accused of subordinating his responsibility to protecting China from scrutiny, ignoring warnings about human-to-human transmission and even applauding Chinese president Xi Jinping for “timely and effective measures in dealing with the epidemic”.

But Sloan didn’t just question Tam’s competence, he queried her loyalty. He did it for leadership votes from conspiracy theorists and survivalists, who fear gun bans, internment and a UN invasion.

I was kind of relieved when Maxime Bernier founded his own party, figuring he’d take the kookier elements of the CPC with him. Sloan didn’t take the bait, but even if he is a sitting MP, I’m fine with letting the People’s Party have him.

The partisan judiciary

As usual, if you want to know what a political party is really up to, look at what they accuse their opponents of doing:

The Liberal government relies on a large network of party officials and supporters to decide which lawyers receive sought-after judicial appointments, e-mails obtained by The Globe and Mail show.

Liberal MPs, ministerial staff members and even party volunteers have been involved in candidate vetting since the federal government revamped the process in 2016, after having accused the previous Conservative government of politicizing appointments.

In the United States, where the process of appointing judges is blatantly based on partisan loyalties, you pretty much have to belong to the President’s political party if you ever want to make it to the Bench. Here in Canada, um…

The dozens of e-mails between ministerial staffers from 2017 and 2018 detail widespread partisan involvement in the selection of new judges, offering unprecedented insight into the inner workings of the current judicial appointment process. The e-mails also show clear tensions during that time frame between the minister of justice’s office, which handles the appointment process, and the Prime Minister’s Office, which collaborates on those decisions.

The PMO ensures Liberal MPs are consulted on all nominations in their ridings, the e-mails show, using the judicial candidates’ postal codes to determine where they live. In 2018, a member of the PMO’s appointment branch asked then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s office for the results of MP consultations for more than a dozen candidates, despite the concerns of her judicial affairs adviser, François Giroux.

[…]

The Globe reported last year that the PMO also vets potential candidates with a private Liberal Party database called Liberalist to see whether they had given money to the party in recent years, participated in party activities and even put up Liberal election signs.

Honestly, none of this comes as a surprise, and I’ll go even further and say involvement with the governing political party shouldn’t disqualify you from being appointed as a judge. We lawyers are definitely over-represented in government and politics – heck, the reason I went to law school was because I didn’t know what else I could do with my political science degree – and being a party hack doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified.

My only wish is that we stop pretending this doesn’t happen.

Smearing Justice Joyal

They told me if I voted for the Conservatives we’d have blatantly partisan interference in the judicial system, and they were right!

The Trudeau government’s latest excuse for LavScam: Jody Wilson-Raybould was a social conservative deep-cover operative trying to appoint an extreme right-winger to the Supreme Court of Canada. Or something like that.

Relations between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould first began to fray in 2017 over concerns about her choice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada.

A year before cabinet discussions about a plea deal for Quebec engineering company SNC-Lavalin, Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould disagreed about her recommendation of Manitoba Justice Glenn D. Joyal, sources familiar with the matter tell CTV News.

Trudeau was concerned that Joyal wasn’t committed to protecting rights that have flown out of interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly LGBTQ2 rights and even abortion access, neither of which are specifically enshrined in the Charter.

[…]

The Prime Minister’s Office was concerned about views Joyal expressed in a speech to the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference in the January 2017, in which he discussed about the way courts were interpreting the Charter, ushered in by Trudeau’s father.

“It may be one of the bitter ironies of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s Nation Building strategy of the 1980s, that despite the celebration and promotion of the Charter, it has led to an institutional imbalance that dilutes a source of Canadian distinctiveness,” he said in the speech.

Joyal argued for a rebalancing the relationship between the courts and legislative branch.

“I would hope and have every reason to believe, that this would signal the beginning of a true dialogue with the courts, where the resulting policies would, I suspect, reflect a traditionally pragmatic and uniquely Canadian mix of liberal and non-liberal values.”

His speech raised concerns that Joyal, if appointed, would be less willing to protect rights that are based on a broader interpretation of the Charter.

This is truly baffling, since I’ve been assured that unlike those nasty Americans, Supreme Court Justices in Canada are appointed strictly based on merit and not because of how the Prime Minister thinks they might decide hot-button issues.

Joyal, for his part, says he withdrew his name from consideration because of his wife’s breast cancer:

In a statement Monday, Joyal made no mention of Wilson-Raybould, but said that although he applied for the position of Supreme Court justice, he had to withdraw for personal reasons related to his wife’s health.

“In 2016, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs announced an independent and non-partisan application process for appointments to our highest court. The confidential process assesses each candidate on their merits,” Joyal told Global News in an emailed statement.

“Ultimately, I had to withdraw my application for personal reasons, due to my wife’s metastatic breast cancer. Regrettably, that detail was omitted from the now-published media reports for which I was given no opportunity or, in one case, approximately one hour to respond to.

“I fear that someone is using my previous candidacy to the Supreme Court of Canada to further an agenda unrelated to the appointment process. This is wrong,” Joyal continued.

Ever since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms took effect in 1982, judges, lawyers and academics have wrangled with the question of how the powers of the judiciary and the legislature should be balanced. That’s what Joyal was talking about. And intellectually honest people know raising these points doesn’t make you a bigot.

Which is precisely why Sheila Copps says Joyal is a bigot (and a “homophone”):

As long as Copps is around, Frank D’Angelo will not be the most embarrassing person ever to come from Hamilton.

The silence of Jody Wilson-Raybould

I’ve seen Liberal Facebook friends trying to downplay the brewing SNC-Lavalin scandal by noting that former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould hasn’t come out and said that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to interfere in its criminal prosecution.

They’re technically correct, because Ms. Wilson-Raybould is not allowed to say anything about it until the Prime Minister lets her do so:

Until Justin Trudeau waives solicitor-client privilege, we’re left to speculate about whether Wilson-Raybould was forced out because she couldn’t speak French, or because of Scott Brison’s resignation, or because the Patriots won another Super Bowl. ‘Tis a mystery for the ages

For those keeping score at home, during the comparatively quaint Mike Duffy expenses scandal, then-Prime Minster/history’s greatest fascist monster Stephen Harper instructed his lawyer to waive solicitor-client privilege protecting his PMO documents from the RCMP.