Retired Quebec judge John Gomery says the Harper government's plan to create mandatory minimum jail terms for drug crimes is a "slap in the face" to judges and suggests the Conservatives don't trust them to craft appropriate sentences for individual cases.
"This legislation basically shows a mistrust of the judiciary to impose proper sentences when people come before them," says Gomery, who came to national prominence in 2004 when he chaired an inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal.
"Judges view this kind of legislation as a slap in the face."
"Judges find that it's an implied criticism when Parliament imposes mandatory sentences," Gomery says. "It leaves the impression that judges aren't using their discretion wisely or in accordance with the wishes of the legislature. And judges are resentful about that."
The arrogance in that statement is astounding. It suggests that under no conditions could the judiciary in Canada possibly be wrong when it comes to sentencing.
The Canadian justice system has had a bad reputation of being an in-and-out way point for some of the worst scum in society for years. The parole system in particular in drastic need of reform.
What Justice Gomery is suggesting, although naive and out of touch in its delivery, clearly identifies what this issue is about: mistrust of the judiciary.
Canadians have started to seriously doubt the neutrality of judges in the last couple decades. The high proportion of divorce cases that end up favoring women, the constant stream of violent offenders that seem to get minimum sentences, and the rewriting of law under the guise of the Charter has seriously undermined the credibility of judges. What's worse, we now know that a majority of donations made by judicial appointments end up going to left wing parties. That's judicial neutrality apparently.
It's about time that judge's like Gomery figure that out.