Lawrence Martin wrote last week that the Supreme Court is the Harper government's real opposition. And today, in the Toronto Star, Tim Harper writes that it would not be a surprise if the prime minister went after the courts in the next election campaign:
This is a government determined to bring its brand of law and order to this country, whether it is cracking down on bogus refugee claimants, giving police more surveillance powers, bringing in mandatory sentencing, ending early parole or always going the extra mile to bring down the hammer in the name of victims’ rights.
In most cases, that agenda has crashed on the rocks of judicial challenges.
Over the weekend, Harper went after Justin Trudeau and, by extension, Trudeau's father, who gave Canada the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter has become the very bane of Harper's existence. Speaking in Calgary,
He fired away at Justin Trudeau, claiming the Liberal leader would “restore that key liberal principle of criminal justice, that the offender must be considered innocent even after being proved guilty’’
But, pre-election embellishments aside, Harper could have been talking about Canadian courts, not the Liberal party.
The number of Harper initiatives which have been successfully challenged in court is growing, the latest being judge Anne Mactavish's rejection of health care cuts for refugee claimants:
Mactavish (a Liberal appointee) called the reforms “cruel and unusual,” saying they breached refugees’ Charter rights, and that Conservatives endangered the lives of innocent and vulnerable children “in a manner that shocks the conscience and outrages our standards of decency.”
Harper has never shied away from personal attacks -- on anyone. His recent attack on Beverley McLachlin underscores that point. We'll have to see if other judges are next on his hit list.