Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/2/2011 (3186 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The Canadian Bar Association has lashed out at Immigration Minister Jason Kenney over his public smackdown of judges he says are thwarting his government's immigration and refugee policies.
In a letter to Kenney sent Feb. 22, CBA president Rod Snow said Kenney's comments undermine confidence in the judiciary.
"Your public criticism of judges who follow the law but not the government's political agenda is an affront to our democracy and freedoms," Snow wrote.
The criticism stems from a speech Kenney delivered at the University of Western Ontario on Feb. 11 in which he sought out a conversation with judges about how they can better implement the government's policies.
"We need the judiciary to understand the spirit of what we are trying to do," Kenney said.
Snow said if Kenney doesn't believe the judiciary is properly interpreting the law, it can amend its legislation to make sure the intention is clearer.
The government does not "have the option of publicly reprimanding the judiciary for not supporting its political agenda."
Snow said judges are not allowed to speak publicly to defend themselves, something Kenney knows very well. He said the bar association has, in the past, spoken up to ensure the public understands why they aren't also hearing from judges and how the system works.
In his speech, Kenney said he has recurrent problems with courts indulging what he termed frivolous claims and appeals and overturning or questioning the expert opinions of officials in Kenney's department.
He said Canadians are concerned about "cases in which, seemingly on a whim, or perhaps in a fit of misguided magnanimity, a judge overturns the careful decisions of multiple levels of diligent, highly trained public servants, tribunals, and even other judges."
He also pointed to decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada that admonished lower courts for not bowing to the decisions made by immigration officials.
Kenney's director of communications dismissed the CBA complaint as coming from the Liberals.
"This latest complaint might have been penned by the Ignatieff Liberals, who would also seem indifferent to letting violent foreign criminals live illegally in Canada for decades or more," said Alykhan Velshi.
He said Kenney will not apologize for disagreeing with federal judges who indulge foreign criminals who abuse Canada's immigration system.
"In fact, he looks forward to giving more such speeches in the months ahead," Velshi said.