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  • Writer's pictureStephen Biss

Should politicians appoint 'like-minded' judges?

Updated: Feb 28

If the Erin Mills South Residents Association applies to Ontario's Superior Court of Justice for judicial review of a decision by the Minister or a failure by the City to properly exercise its jurisdiction, should we expect that the Judge will fairly construe and apply the law? Do we have a right to demand that a federally-appointed Judge is nemo [est] judex in sua causa, in propria causa, in other words "no one is judge in their own cause".

The rule that Judges should not favour one side or the other is ancient:

See, for example, Leviticus 19:15: "'Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly."

See Wikipedia: "the Corpus Juris Civilis. In 376 AD, an imperial decree established the principle that "no one shall decide his own case or interpret the law for himself" (neminem sibi esse iudicem vel ius sibi dicere debere) (Code 3.5.1)"

And in Hobbes's Leviathan (1651) ("And seeing every man is presumed to do all things in order to his own benefit, no man is a fit Arbitrator in his own cause")

If the Erin Mills South Residents Association participates in an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal, do we have a right to insist that the members of that are not biased when they construe and apply the Planning Act or the Municipal Act?

No matter what political party you normally support, every one of us has reason to complain strongly whenever a politician, of any political party, suggests that a Minister of Justice or Attorney General should appoint "like-minded" judges.

In Canada's constitutional law, the Minister of Justice of Canada / Attorney General appoints federally- appointed Judges, including those in Superior Court criminal courts in Ontario, and Ontario's Attorney General appoints Ontario Court Justices, including those in criminal courts in Ontario. In exercising that jurisdiction or in the prosecution of offences in Ontario, both the Minister of Justice of Canada / Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General Ontario are required by law to be independent of Cabinet interference.


"In 1988, Attorney General Ian Scott announced a three-year pilot project to try a different model of appointment for Provincial Court Judges. The Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) began its work under the chairmanship of Professor Peter Russell with a mandate: First, to develop and recommend comprehensive, sound and useful criteria for selection of appointments to the judiciary, ensuring that the best candidates are considered; and, second, to interview applicants selected by it or referred to it by the Attorney General and make recommendations.

Between 1990 and 1995, the size of the pilot committee grew from 9 to 13 persons and the committee worked at developing criteria and procedures which were reviewed, refined and eventually publicized. In 1992, under the chairmanship initially of Professor Emily Carasco and then Associate Chief Judge Robert Walmsley, the Committee issued a Final Report and prepared recommendations for draft legislation to ensure that judges in future will be appointed by a process independent of political considerations."

Federal Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee


" 3. A member of the Committee must show discretion and neutrality in all aspects of Committee work. Questions must be directed only to the candidate's fitness for the bench. No questions concerning a candidate's political views or political affiliation are to be raised. If a candidate has mentioned active participation in a political party as part of his or her social involvement, no inference, favourable or unfavourable, is to be drawn other than the indication of the candidate's capacity for social involvement."

"The Toronto Star first reported that Matthew Bondy, a former deputy chief of staff to Ford, is the chair of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee, and Brock Vandrick, Ford's former director of stakeholder relations, is on the committee.

The appointments are made by Attorney General Doug Downey, and Ford said Friday that his Progressive Conservative government got elected "to get like-minded people in appointments." 

"I'm not going to appoint some NDP or some Liberal," he said in response to a question at an unrelated news conference in Brampton."

[There is no doubt that the criminal justice system including the bail system needs improvement. "Improvement" should not be done through politicians influencing "like-minded" Judges. Real improvement should be done through:

  1. Criminal Code amendments (federal legislation)

  2. improvements to the Administration of Justice (the provincial Courts)

  3. programmes to improve supervision of persons facing outstanding charges, particularly those who cannot find a surety (another provincial responsibility)]

Copy of letter to the Premier from the Criminal Lawyers Association:

" The questions come after two former members of the premier’s staff were selected for the judicial committee—two staffers who remain in close communication with the government through their roles as registered lobbyists.


 Matthew Bondy, former deputy chief of staff to Ford, is registered as a lobbyist with Enterprise Canada. He works with a variety of clients, including Colt Canada, a subsidiary of the U.S. arms manufacturer Colt.


 A list of clients for registered lobbyist Matthew Bondy. (Screenshot from registry)


The other new committee member is Brock Vandrick, Ford’s former director of stakeholder relations. He is also a registered lobbyist with clients like the Ontario Forest Industries Association, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies."

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This is not a news source. This resource provides links to Canadian and other news sources to encourage informed discussion.

For more information respecting this database or to report misuse contact: Allbiss Lawdata Ltd., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, 905-273-3322. The author and the participants make no representation or warranty  whatsoever as to the authenticity and reliability of the information contained herein.  WARNING: All information contained herein is provided  for the purpose of discussion and peer review only. Construction of this resource of links to Canadian news sources was necessary in view of the suppression of Canadian news by various social media platforms. Our purpose is to encourage fair discussion of Canadian news, in particular, among residents of Erin Mills South.

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