Some days I look to the world of politics and think, “if only I could remove that guy or reverse that decision, the world would be a better place.” On a choice few days, the world of politics hears my request and grants it. As of today, Marc Nadon is no longer Canada’s latest appointee to the Supreme Court. Like every original opinion expressed in the PMO, he has been rejected. His proponent, a relatively unknown man from Toronto named Stephen Harper, was pretty sure Nadon would represent Quebec in Canada’s top court. Surely there is an explanation as to why Nadon received the boot. Let’s examine.
To begin, the appointment process was flawless. An all-party panel of MPs nominated Nadon and two other unknown candidates for consideration by the Prime Minister: a man we all know is judicious and reasonable. Further, the committee itself was balanced and fair, and undoubtedly took ample time to deliberate before providing its recommendations.
Consider who was on the committee. NDP MP Francoise Boivin and Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc would never take orders from Harperius Caesar. That leaves only three MPs who could have botched the process: Jacques Gourde, Robert Goguen, and Shelly Glover. Unless you’re from St. Narcisse-de-Beaurivage or Moncton, you’ve probably never heard either of the first two names in your life. Uh-oh…That’s because they’re trained seals. Ok, two MPs up and two trained seals down. That leaves Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, to tip the scale. Surely Shelly isn’t a seal. One hopes she has enough self-respect to maintain the integrity of the committee responsible for filling a Supreme Court vacancy. Does she? Shelly is actually an unapologetic cheater. She overspent on her 2011 election campaign, continued to sit as an MP even though her expense claim was ineligible, and actually pursued legal action against Elections Canada for daring to try to hold her accountable for her actions. Alright, maybe the committee was a circus act. But that alone isn’t reason to block Nadon from sitting on the Supreme Court.
It turns out there was a bigger problem. Nadon was appointed to fill a vacancy in Quebec, and in order to fill such a vacancy, a judge must “ensure civil law expertise and the representation of Quebec’s legal traditions and social values on the Court, [in order] to enhance the confidence of Quebec in the Court.” Nadon hadn’t worked in Quebec for 20 years, so in the opinion of the Supreme Court he wasn’t up to date on matters of civil law or anything else Quebecois. While there is room for argument here, this also seems like an avoidable problem. Can’t we just appoint a judge who works in Quebec?
If only we could. If only it was that easy. If only young Stephen Harper had paid attention in grade 9 geography class…he would know where Quebec begins and ends. He would also know that Ottawa is not Prince Edward Island, that Ottawa is not Saskatchewan, and that Ottawa is not Maniwaki. He could have saved us a lot of trouble. But he didn’t.
As news surfaces that Harper slept through geography class, the parliamentary opposition is calling Nadon a victim. He is, in their opinion, a good man who was swept up by a bad cause. It isn’t his fault, they say. Justin Trudeau, full-time hairstylist and part-time leader of the Liberal Party, put the responsibility for this debacle “squarely on the shoulders of the prime minister.”
So is Nadon a victim? No. He is old and experienced enough to know a liar when he sees one. He has lived through the past eight years, so he should know that this government handles the most important decisions with the least possible expertise. If Nadon is upset, it’s because he let his ego convince him that he really was worthy of that spot, despite all evidence to the contrary. In this respect, Nadon is a quieter, sober, probably more likeable version of Mike Duffy.
That aside, what is most amusing about this whole situation is the phony surprise expressed by the PMO. A PMO spokesperson said that central command is genuinely astonished that there was any resistance to Nadon’s appointment. It sounds silly, but it’s a fair position. It took years for people to catch on to Duffy and co., so it is pretty amazing that those same apathetic people were able to stop Nadon before his first day at work. In its defense, The PMO maintains that the multi-party committee responsible for nominating Nadon never said anything about his ineligibility. The committee discussions are not on public record, so that is both the greatest and lamest of finger-pointing excuses.
In case you’re wondering, Rocco Galati is the lawyer who challenged Nadon’s appointment. I know nothing about him outside of his involvement in this case, but something tells me he deserves a round of applause.