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LETTER: AG choosing chief justice alone is 'interference'

'The interference cannot get more obvious than the attorney general choosing the chief justice without independent input,' says letter writer
2022-06-02 Downey victory speech SG
Attorney General Doug Downey is shown in this file photo.

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following is in response to 'LETTER: Downey's new approach 'more democratic',' published March 14. 

Doug Lewis’s most recent letter claiming that it is “more democratic” for Attorney General Doug Downey to directly select the next chief justice of Ontario is laughable and misleading.

The selection of chief justice of Ontario must be free from direct government political interference. The interference cannot get more obvious than the attorney general choosing the chief justice without independent input.

In the new process, Doug Downey invites any and all members of the bench in Ontario to apply directly to him, and after consideration, he will choose the succeeding chief justice of Ontario. Why would the office of the attorney general want to go to all the extra work of reviewing so many applicants when there is already a process?

The simple answer may be that it allows “loyalty” criteria to the vetting process. It allows the attorney general to choose a candidate whose political views match Progressive Conservative party views.

Perhaps the new “secret vetting” process could focus on questions that are not typically allowed to be asked. Has the candidate or their family been big donators to the Progressive Conservative party? Has the candidate or his family ever been a member of the Progressive Conservative party? Does this candidate have relatives or friends (directly or in-laws) to known Progressive Conservative elected members of the provincial parliament?

Conversely, would having a Liberal, Green or NDP background count against an applicant?

These negatives surely outweigh the so-called democratization of allowing an any-and-all application process.

No selection process is free of bias, but the direct selection of the chief justice of Ontario by the attorney general has great potential for increasing political interference into our justice system. It is just not worth the risk.

David Howell