What’s the difference between Garth Brooks and Peter MacKay? Garth Brooks has friends in low places, whereas all of Peter MacKay’s friends have been appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Perhaps that’s a bit overblown. Truthfully, the Broadbent Institute reports that 6 of 9 recent Supreme Court Justice appointees have personal, professional, or political connections to Peter MacKay. Isn’t it amazing how 6 and 9 always seem to come together? Surely this is all a matter of coincidence.
Since 2013, when MacKay became Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, two thirds of Justices appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia have had ties to the big man from Central Nova. One was a big donor to the Conservative Party, who happened to be the best man at MacKay’s wedding. Another was that guy’s wife (see, not sexist). There was also a guy who regularly donated to MacKay’s Conservative riding association, MacKay’s father’s campaign manager, and a couple of others who know MacKay in one way or another. So what’s the big deal?
Crybabies will assert that this is some sort of scam, that the Minister of Justice is somehow abusing his power to give his friends nice jobs. They lament that the courts are going to hell. Well, the whiners couldn’t be more wrong. Far from suggesting that MacKay is abusing his power, this merely proves that at least 3 people in the legal profession in Nova Scotia don’t know Peter MacKay. Furthermore, it proves that there is a healthy minority of independent thinkers at the highest level of the provincial judiciary. That sounds a lot like our federal democracy. Ipso facto, each must be healthy, robust, and the envy of the world.
We should not scold MacKay for having so many loyal friends. We should not be jealous of his endowment, nor of the attention that it attracts. The fact is, MacKay appointed those judges only after a committee approved of their candidacy. There is no proof that he abused his post or rigged the system. Sure, his government changed the rules to remove the tiers of recommendation that separated approved candidates from one another, and yes, MacKay can choose anyone from that pool of recommended candidates without defending or facing any measure of accountability for his decision. That’s all true, but it isn’t what’s important here. The takeaway, folks, is that Nova Scotians have to trust his judgment because he has buddies on the bench. If they have his back, like good friends do, there’s no way anyone will successfully challenge him in a provincial court in the near future.