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A judgeship for Toews

Public safety minister going to Manitoba's Appeal Court: sources

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Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is destined for a new job on Manitoba's highest court, sources say.

There are currently nine judges on the Manitoba Court of Appeal -- one works part time -- but one is due to retire shortly when he hits the compulsory retirement age of 75.

There is also one opening on the Court of Queen's Bench that needs filling.

Sources say Toews is in line for the Court of Appeal opening, but it's an appointment that does not have to be made immediately.

Judges on the Appeal Court and Queen's Bench are federally appointed through the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada. The Queen's Bench and Appeal Court vacancies are to be filled at the same time.

This is the second time it has been said the Provencher MP and senior Manitoba cabinet minister is in line for appointment to the bench. The last time was four years ago, when justice sources said he was to fill a Queen's Bench opening.

However, Toews continued to serve in cabinet under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Toews has been justice minister and minister responsible for the Treasury Board.

Before entering provincial politics in the mid-'90s, Toews was a provincial Crown attorney specializing in constitutional law. He made the jump to federal politics in 2000.

Recently, Toews said he had no plans to retire when asked if he'll run in the 2015 federal election.

"I keep hearing all the time that I'm retiring, and your newspaper is the one that keeps on saying it," he said. "Also, I have to sort of shrug my shoulders and say, 'You must know something that I don't know.' That's all I can say."

Toews garnered public criticism earlier this year after introducing what's been dubbed an Internet snooping bill.

He told a Liberal MP in the House of Commons in February he could either stand with the government in support of Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, or "with the child pornographers." The bill, which would require telecommunications companies to hand over customer information to police without a court order, was swiftly sent to committee, where it could be reworked.

The fallout from Toews' comment and the bill resulted in the Vikileaks affair in which details of his divorce were released on Twitter.

More recently, it was rumoured he would be part of a cabinet shuffle following the resignation of International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, who leaves office at the end of the month. Oda has been replaced by Ontario MP Julian Fantino.

Harper told an Alberta radio host this week he's holding off on a wider cabinet shuffle until next year.

"We'll take a look at how everybody's performing and make some major changes at that point," Harper told host Dave Rutherford.

"I'm more likely to look at a big change around mid-term of this government rather than a whole bunch of little changes in between."

They recommend the appointments

The Judicial Advisory Committee for Manitoba recommends who in the province's legal community should be appointed a judge. Judges in Court of Queen's Bench and the Manitoba Court of Appeal are federally appointed.


Chair Madam Justice Brenda Keyser: nominee of the chief justice of Manitoba

Jon van der Krabben: nominee of the Law Society of Manitoba

Tony Kavanagh: nominee of the Canadian Bar Association

Vacant: nominee of the minister of justice and attorney general of Manitoba

Mike Sutherland: nominee of the law enforcement community

Jonathon Lyon: nominee of the federal minister of justice

Marni Larkin: nominee of the federal minister of justice

John Tropak: nominee of the federal minister of justice


Manitoba courts in which judges are federally appointed, as of July 1, 2012:


Court Number of judges Vacancies

Court of Appeal 9 0

Queen's Bench trial27 1

Queen's Bench family 17 0


-- source: Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2012 A7

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