Why judges’ political activism also hurts lawyers

l e e a k a z a k i

The Law Timesreported that an Ontario Superior Court Justice is facing a complaint by an oil sands advocacy group to the Canadian Judicial Council for his role in a public mock trial of environmentalist David Suzuki at the Royal Ontario Museum this past November 6.  The basis for the complaint is that the judge’s participation in a political event compromised his judicial impartiality.  Another judge of the same court had originally agreed to participate, but later withdrew in the face of a similar objection.

Judges have long been criticized for “judicial activism,” especially since the advent of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Whatever one’s view of this subject, it is important to differentiate the judge’s role in representing community values, when interpreting law, from use of the judicial office to support a personal view on a political issue.  Judicial power resides in the authority to state what…

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