Vic Toews' horrible and hypocritical judicial appointment
Mar 8, 2014

Vic Toews' horrible and hypocritical judicial appointment

When the Conservatives were in opposition they raised - as they often did - a legitimate point about the patronage within the then Liberal government. At the front of the pack was Justice Critic Vic Toews, who - quite rightly -  decried the partisan appointments themselves and the process by which they were made. As has become far too familiar, such legitimate criticisms seemed to evaporate the minute the Conservatives won power.

Vic Toews has now been appointed to the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench. That he abandoned his criticisms of the process for such selections (wanting an independent advisory panel to select candidates then later defending the status quo of the PM selecting the short list) when he arrived in power as Justice Minister was one thing. That the Conservatives embarked on appointing precisely the kind of partisan and patronage appointments Vic Toews had long decried was one thing. But actually making Vic Toews the newest partisan patronage appointment? It is a new low even for Conservative hypocrisy.

I am hardly enamoured by Vic Toews himself. He has spearheaded the Conservative's problematic tough on crime agenda with failed policies like mandatory minimums for pot offences. He was that one with the whole "He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers" nonsense. So I am sure his appointment will result in a whole lot of decisions I will disagree with. I expect that. I expect the Harper government to appoint judges I will disagree with, especially after defending the appointments process they once opposed. I just didn't expect it would be so blatantly obvious, so blatantly hypocritical, to appoint the partisan who once made a name for himself decrying the failures of Liberal partisan patronage appointments. 

This hypocrisy models that on the Senate. Conservatives in opposition during the Liberal years blasted the stuffing of the Senate with patronage appointments. Then they got into power and did exactly the same thing, arguably even more egregiously.

The political advantage from such patronage is clear: it allows you to build political factions of loyal supporters and donors, placed in positions of power, with which you further your political ambitions. But it comes at a cost to effective policy and governance, and the Conservatives were right to oppose these most egregious variants of it. Oppose it, that is, until they got in.

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