Perhaps not surprisingly, the entity that oversees the conduct of judges in Canada – which, remarkably, is itself made up exclusively of judges – has ruled that Ontario’s chief justice did not act improperly in two matters: when he legalized so-called same-sex marriage in his province in 2003, despite the fact his daughter was involved in a same-sex relationship at the time, and when he partied with the very litigants involved in the case a scarce two weeks later.
REAL Women of Canada had filed a complaint with the Judicial Council of Canada over these two issues in July 2006 and a decision was handed down this past December. According to Mr. Justice Richard Scott of the council, “the sexual orientation of a judge’s children, and indeed the fact that a judge’s children are married or living in a common-law relationship, are not … indicative of any bias on the part of the judge.”
Scott added that with respect to McMurtry’s partying with litigants, “It is well established that chief justices have public and representative functions, as well as judicial responsibilities. Attendance at such events is important to ensure ongoing exchanges between the judiciary and other members of the legal profession. If Chief Justice McMurtry was asked to have his photograph taken with (litigants) Bourassa and Varnell, it might indeed have been viewed as mean-spirited or worse to have declined.”
According to its website, the Canadian Judicial Council was created in 1971 and serves to promote “efficiency and uniformity and to improve the quality of judicial service in all superior courts in Canada.” Chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, the council is composed exclusively of the chief justices and associate chief justices of Canada’s superior courts. Incredibly, McMurtry actually is one of the representatives from Ontario.
Although not astonished by the council’s ruling, REAL Women national vice-president Gwen Landolt said the situation points out a massive problem in the integrity of Canada’s judicial system.
“It certainly pointed out that you can’t have judges self-regulating themselves, because all they’re trying to do is protect each other from the public, rather than protecting the public from the judges … It’s a closed shop to which the public really does not have access,” she told The Interim.
Landolt placed the root of the problem at the foot of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which allows the prime minister to appoint judges and not make them accountable for what they do afterwards. Far too many judges have gone on to make and interpret laws to suit their personal philosophies or ideologies, thus ignoring common law, precedent, written legislation and the Constitution.
“Certainly, the Ontario Court of Appeal, of which Mr. Justice McMurtry is the chief justice, is one of the great offenders,” said Landolt. “They’re the ones who said the medical use of marijuana should be legal. They didn’t have one scintilla of evidence to back that conclusion, but because they’re liberal and left-leaning, they thought marijuana should be readily available and the way to do it is to start off with medical access.”
Other examples are the Ontario court’s finding of common-law marriage as being equivalent to that of legal marriage and its handling of the recent three-parent case, in which McMurtry played an important role. (See the February issue of The Interim for more details on this latter case.)
Landolt pointed out that even McMurtry’s appointment as Ontario’s chief justice gives pause for consideration. McMurtry “was never known for his legal acumen. He was known for his political background. He got to be appointed to the bench because he and (former prime minister Jean) Chretien were buddy-buddy … (The pair) were good friends because the (former Ontario government of premier Bill) Davis backed the Charter of Rights and was a kingmaker as the Charter was being drafted in 1981. When Mr. McMurtry retired from politics, lo and behold, he was appointed to the Superior Court of Ontario and then to the Court of Appeal. It was the political companionship and relationship with Mr. Chretien that put him there, because he certainly is not known among lawyers as having any particular legal acumen. He certainly is a politician and is using his position on the court, with the greatest respect, for a political agenda … not a legal one.”
The mainstream media refused to report on the complaint against McMurtry, the reason for which Landolt ascribed to their sharing of left-liberal views.