FELDSTED -- We either have a politically neutral, independent justice system or we have a dictatorship
government can intervene to end Meng's extradition trial. Should it? Extradition
Act allows justice minister to intervene at any point during judicial
Is Canada a banana republic, or
a free and open democracy?
Mark Gollom, Olivia Stefanovich ~~ CBC News ~~ Jun 23, 2020
While seasoned jurists say the Canadian government has every legal right to intervene to free Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou from her extradition trial to the U.S., some experts warn such an action could have significant political ramifications.
“The question isn't whether the [Canadian government] can, the question is whether they should," said Toronto-based lawyer Brian Greenspan.
In 1999, the Extradition Act was amended to include a specific provision that provides the federal minister of justice the power to intervene in an extradition at any point during the judicial phase.
"The minister has the right to withdraw the authority to proceed and to end the extradition proceeding, and it's totally at the discretion of the minister of justice," Greenspan said.
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This is proof of how dangerous our federal government has become. Our justice system is styled to be fair, impartial and politically neutral. The Justice Minister is a political appointment -- and not politically neutral. The justice system is under the control of the Attorney General which is, of necessity, a politically neutral position.
Our governments have chosen to make the Attorney General and Justice Minister one position, an obvious conflict of interest.
We watched in horror as the Clerk of the Privy Council, who is also required to hold a politically neutral position reporting to the Governor General, attempt to pressure the Attorney General, another politically neutral position, into not prosecuting SNC-Lavalin for purely political reasons.
That is what we would expect in a banana republic or dictatorship like China, but not in a free and open democracy.
Our justice system must stand alone, separate and apart from the government in all aspects. We can refer laws that infringe on our rights and freedoms to the justice system for review to ensure that our government does not infringe on our constitutional rights through statute. That is how laws, or sections of laws are ‘struck down’ or declared void by a judge.
We must never give up the right to protection from a government that seeks to crush us by overriding our fundamental rights.
The current overabundance of conflicting coronavirus regulations, issued under health care emergency provisions, is an example of the mess we get into when we mix politics and justice.
Provinces have no power over quarantine. That is a federal constitutional jurisdiction and responsibility. It does not matter what provincial health care legislation has been adopted; provincial legislation cannot override the constitution or expand provincial powers.
Similarly the federal government cannot use legislation to provide itself with powers to intervene in the application of justice.
We either have a politically neutral, independent justice system or we have a dictatorship. There are no alternatives. Political interference in our justice system is not acceptable.
Businesses and individuals have a right to fair, independent and impartial treatment by our justice system and courts.
Politicians putting their fingers on the scales of justice is not allowed.
John Feldsted ... is a political commentator, consultant, and strategist. He makes his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba.