OK- I know, the government of the day gets to make the final choices of who gets appointed to sit on the Provincial Court level Benches. That is one of the roles we delegate to them, as citizens, when we elect them and give them our consent to govern us.
This is such an important role and duty of the Minister in charge of Justice in our Westminster form of government. It is the Courts who protect citizens from abuses by the State. It is vital that they be independent of the government, politics, and other influences. There are a lot of chacks and balances, appeals, and procedures to ensure and assure fairness and the Rule of Law.
Where fairness and independence can break down is in the Judicial Candidate vetting and recommending process. The candidates who apply for a judicial appointment go through a very rigorous vetting, reference checks, and interview process by a committee of citizens appointed by the appropriate Minister. They narrow the field for recommendation to the Minister who makes the final choice.
My latest information on how it worked, and it is dated, was the Minister got three nominees and could accept from them or reject them all but could not substitute a different candidate. This is a pretty good check on the tendency for the politicization of judicial appointments.
However, “the rub is” in where the Minister’s personal selection of the Judicial Review Committee. The system can be skewed and even gamed at that level. It sure appears Minster Schweitzer is putting his finger on that scale of Review Committee membership.
Even his comments in the CBC story leads one to believe he intended to game the process just by the raw politics applied to the changing the committee membership and the too close affiliation with the political machinery of the UCP.
Sure all governing parties play self-serving games in the agency, boards, commissions, and committee appointments. The Question Period Opposition accusations of the UCP replacement Review Committee members being UCP donors was ham-handed. The response was an overly-defensive set of answers by Minister Schweitzer on the donor-based NDP members being replaced.
The other side of the NDP story is the members they appointed to review judicial applications were diverse, qualified, and capable. Base on the story of this gentleman in question, who was appointed and resigned, one wonders if the Minister of Justice did any serious vetting of Review Committee appointees or did he just take names given to him by the Premier or, worse yet, the UCP Fundraising Officials?
None of this gives me confidence in the integrity of the process of reviewing and selecting of Judicial Appointments in Alberta. Past abuses aside, these UCP set up of the system if reprehensible AND A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER TO PERSONAL FREEDOMS IN ALBERTA.