A group of judges has launched a formal complaint to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, saying the Conservatives should withdraw from the selection process for judges.
The complaint was filed Thursday by the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) in response to the Harper government’s nomination of the Conservative former Supreme Court judge Frank Caprio to replace Justice Robert Milliken.
Caprio is a former federal prosecutor and a long-time advocate for the legalization of marijuana.
He has been a vocal critic of the Conservatives’ approach to drug legislation.
The CBA said that in the wake of the nomination, the Harper Government has been undermining its commitment to the integrity of the judiciary.
The Harper government has not publicly acknowledged that it withdrew its support for Caprio’s nomination, although the government has said it would review its position on the nomination.CBA said the decision to nominate Caprio, who is currently serving as a judge of the Federal Court of Appeal, is unacceptable and undermines the integrity and credibility of the Canadian judiciary.
In an interview with CBC News, the CBA’s president, Bruce Boudreau, said he was deeply disappointed with the Prime Minister’s decision to confirm Caprio.
“I think it’s a bit strange for the government to be nominating a judge, which is an institution that’s very important for our democracy,” Boudauer said.
“There’s no reason to make that decision, especially since he is already sitting in the federal court.”
Boudreau said the CMA’s complaint is based on two issues: first, that Caprio is already a member of the federal bench, and secondly, that the government’s support for the nomination will interfere with the court’s ability to function effectively.
“The government has shown itself to be a very clear and principled opponent of the judicial branch, and it’s been very difficult to see that,” he said.
“The Harper Government is clearly not committed to being a constitutional court.”
The government said it was not aware of the CCA’s complaint.
“It is unfortunate that the CFA has chosen to take this approach and I would urge the CAA to take it seriously,” Harper said in a statement.
The Conservative government’s announcement that it would not be nominating Caprio comes as Canada prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the country’s Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has been dealing with the fallout from a landmark 1985 Supreme Court ruling in which it struck down a ban on the distribution of marijuana in Canada.
Caprio is also a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.