Canada Supreme Court Judge Defends Role in Abortion Practitioner’s Award

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 18, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canada Supreme Court Judge Defends Role in Abortion Practitioner’s Award

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 18
, 2008

Ottawa, Canada ( — Canada Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin is defending her role in overseeing the Order of Canada award given to abortion practitioner Henry Morgentaler. McLachlin, who is the head of the advisory council that selects the award recipients said she normally doesn’t vote.

McLachlin told the Toronto Star she intentionally abstained in the case of Morgentaler’s award and did so purposefully.

She told the newspaper, "contrary to what has been reported," the chairman of the committee doesn’t direct the debate over an award or lead the decision to choose a particular recipient.

She said her primary role as chairman of the council is to ensure that the discussion of potential award recipients is fair and accurate "not to weigh in for, or against, any particular candidate."

"There has been a lot of misinformation on this issue," she said. "Some idea was put out by I don’t know who – a rumor or some source – that the chair leads the discussion. That is just not the case."

McLachlin says she is required to chair the Order of Canada advisory committee by virtue of her position as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Charles McVety, president of the Canadian Family Action Coalition, and one of the dozens of groups to craft a letter seeking McLachlin’s dismissal from the court for her involvement, responded to her remarks.

"If Canadians cannot count on non-political, non-ideological justice from the Supreme Court of Canada, it compromises the whole justice system," he told the Globe and Mail.

McVety told that newspaper that he was surprised to hear of reports of her involvement in the award.

"We never accused her of voting. We accused her of disregarding the constitution that she is bound to serve. By expressing her approval of the process, she is expressing approval of Morgentaler’s activism on abortion," he said.

McVety said the chief justice should no longer sit on the Order of Canada panel because some award recipients, like Morgentaler, are involved in legal disputes that will eventually come before the court.

As reported previously, a collection of 42 pro-life groups and businesses signed a joint letter to the Canadian Judicial Council, the agency responsible for overseeing the conduct of federal judges.

"In order to preserve the integrity of Canada’s judicial system, we respectfully ask that you consider this complaint seriously, investigate Beverley McLachlin’s inappropriate behavior and recommend to Parliament that (she) be removed from office," the August 12 letter said.

"The behavior of (McLachlin) outside the courtroom on the (Order of Canada) advisory council has reduced respect for both her and the Canadian judiciary," it added.

Jeff Ward, a spokesman for the Canadian Judicial Council, told the news service that it will take the complaint seriously.

"Any complaint that comes in, even if it is frivolous, does get processed and responded to," he said.

However, in an irony that isn’t lost on pro-life advocates, Judge McLachlin chairs the judicial council as well.

Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Calgary-based Canada Family Action Coalition, talked with CanWest about the letter and McLachlin. He worries she will not be able to be partial if a Morgentaler lawsuit to force New Brunswick taxpayers to fund abortions reaches the Supreme Court.

"What if the New Brunswick decision gets appealed to the Supreme Court? I see no way she can hear this case and claim she is going to be independent, fair, and neutral," he said.

At the end of July, KLRVU surveyed Canadians and learned that a clear majority oppose giving Morgentaler the award.

The poll included 13,324 respondents when the firm conducted it from July 17-21.

The random telephone poll of Canadian households found 55.8% of Canadians oppose the awarding of the medal to the man who helped ushered in unlimited abortions in Canada paid for at taxpayer expense.

The poll found opposition to the award across the provinces.

Beginning with a wave on the east coast of Newfoundland, ebbing slightly in Quebec and then continuing with a surge in Ontario right to the west coast — the tide of opinion against awarding Morgentaler has risen, dramatically.


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