Harper vs Supreme Court of Canada (Updated)

March 21, 2014

The Supreme Court’s rejection of Harper nominee Marc Nadon to fill an upcoming vacancy must come as a major slap in the face to a prime minister who does basic math: he has appointed five of the eight judges, and they just won’t stay bought. They voted six-to-one against his man. One recent Harper appointment recused himself. Another voted for Nadon. But the other three voted the appointment down because Nadon was not qualified according to the rules laid down in the Constitution.

Harper can’t very well cut the budget of the Supreme Court of Canada and expect Beverley McLachlin and her colleagues to fold their tents and go home. He can’t remove their charitable status, nor pack their board of directors. He can’t even change the law to qualify his personal candidates for the high court. He tried that by adding a page to the last omnibus bill. They quashed the change along with Nadon’s nomination. Damned Constitution.

Now McLachlin and the five others who voted against Nadon specified in their report that they did not judge whether Nadon could still qualify for the post if he were again to join the Quebec Bar. That was not the question they had been asked. This leaves Harper, the man who gave new life to the word “prorogation” in the Canadian lexicon, another out: all he has to do is hop through the court’s hoops and then send Nadon, hat in hand, again to attempt to gain admission to the vacant Supreme Court seat.

Under the circumstances I would do exactly that. But Stephen Harper has had eight years of power, and his growing pride in his authoritarian rule may not allow him to bend to the Court’s will.

Expect Harper to fire a blast at constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati, the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and pretty well everyone else from his favourite perch: the lectern of a press conference in Europe. This may leave the Ukrainians within earshot slack-jawed in bewilderment, but it’s not about your country’s problems, guys. When Harper speaks on the world stage, it’s about Stephen Harper.



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