Pro-family Canadians brace themselves as liberal jurist
LOUISE ARBOUR ascends to the nation’s highest court

Louise Arbour, the prime minister’s latest appointee to the Supreme Court of Canada, is a darling of Canada’s liberal legal establishment, which, along with the mainstream media in this country, seems to be strongly supportive of the appointment.

Others, however, see Arbour as a threat to the integrity of the judiciary in Canada. She is a “reckless” woman who acts as though she is “above the law, above the constitution, and above the (International Criminal) Tribunal,” Gwen Landolt told The Interim.

In other words, “she fits right in,” said Landolt, a lawyer and the national vice-president of REAL Women. “She’s just a left-wing politician sitting in the court.”

Arbour’s name has been proposed in the past when openings appeared on the Supreme Court bench. She has long been a favourite among the liberal political and legal elite, but especially since her controversial 1996 appointment as the lead prosecuter at the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Considering the aggressive trend towards globalism in many Western nations today, this experience will probably top her portfolio for years to come. Arbour is a strong proponent of the UN’s latest experiment in expanding its judicial power: the 1998 development of an agreement to establish a International Criminal Court.

As the top tribunal prosecuter, she is on temporary leave from the Ontario Court of Appeal. Prior to her appointment to the Ontario appeals court, she sat on the province’s Supreme Court from 1987-1990. Before that, she was an associate professor and associate dean at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

Her active involvement in the system also includes service with the federal Law Reform Commission and as a law clerk for former Supreme Court Justice Louis-Phillippe Pigeon. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she was a vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Shortly before leaving for the ICT in the Hague, Arbour led an investigation into an incident at the Kingston Penitentiary for women and Canada’s prison system in general. The inquiry was commissioned by the federal government in the face of feminist outrage at the way Kingston Penintentiary guards treated female prisoners following a riot in the prison.

Arbour ruled against the guards, recommended that the only federal penitentiary for women in Canada be closed, and demanded substantial reforms of the prison system. Landolt and other anti-feminist forces condemned her for pandering to radical feminist interests. In an interview with Student Life, a student publication at Washington University, Arbour acknowledged her belief that women should receive special treatment. “I recommended that women be placed in communities, and with far more appropriate forms of treatments and programs,” she said.

The Kingston Pen issue aside, the other areas of concern over Arbour’s credentials for sitting on Canada’s highest court should disturb more than just social conservatives.

Landolt draws special attention to the process surrounding her appointment to the ICT. Canadian legislation as well as the Constitution state that Canada’s judges are answerable only to Canada and Parliament. Landolt’s disgust is thinly veiled when she talks about Arbour’s blatant disregard for Canada’s Constitution in accepting the appointment. “It was convenient,” and brought her a minimum annual income of $250,000 (US), she said.

Then-justice minister Allan Rock had to pass three orders-in-council (special legislative reforms for which he is not accountable to Parliament) and amend the Judges Act to bypass the Constitution prohibitions on the ICT appointment. The amendments to the Judges Act failed largely due to the opposition of Liberal Senator Anne Cools, a staunch defender of the Constitution and probably the most popular member of the Upper Chamber among social conservatives. Later, however, Rock implemented another reform to the Judges Act which refers to Louise Arbour by name – an unprecedented move, says Landolt.

The REAL Women vice-president fears that the new Supreme Court judge will be “equally reckless” on the high court. “She is very arrogant … She does what she likes. It’s going to be law according to Arbour, not according to precedent or tradition.”

Landolt’s comment about Louise Arbour being above the tribunal refers to an incident in which she refused to release a prisoner after being ordered to do so in compliance with tribunal policy.

Arbour’s reputation for being openly political, even when her behaviour risks undermining the reputation she needs to operate effectively in the courts, extends to the international sphere. While sitting on the tribunal (on leave from the Ontario Court of Appeal), she openly lobbied in favour of the International Criminal Court. “For example, on Dec. 8, 1997, she appeared before the preparatory committee on the establishment of an International Criminal Court in New York, to personally argue in support of a strong independent prosecutor,” notes Landolt.

The ICC statute, agreed upon last year by Canada and most other countries, met with strong resistance from advocates of national sovereignty, as well as from social conservatives who objected to the concepts and terminology used to define the jurisdiction of the court, and the “human rights” violations it is supposed to prosecute. Canada’s official delegates, however, lobbied hard “to turn the ICC into a powerful vehicle to promote worldwide radical feminism, including abortion and homosexual rights,” charges Landolt. “What should have remained solely a criminal court has, in effect, been transformed into a human rights ombudsman as well.” Landolt. She never married her lover of 20-plus years, despite the fact that they had three children together. Her common-law partner was Larry Taman, an NDP appointee to the deputy attorney-general in Ontario under Bob Rae’s government. Ms. Arbour and Mr. Taman have recently separated. They started to see each other while Mr. Taman was still married to his former wife.

In a case involving insurance coverage, Ms. Arbour ruled in favour of equal treatment for married couples and common-law partners. Some critics see her ruling as having been coloured by her own personal views and circumstances.