Canada PM accuses opposition leader of planning to politicize high court

[JURIST] In a last-minute push to regain popular support in the final stages of the Canadian federal election campaign, Prime Minister Paul Martin has accused Conservative Party [party website] leader Stephen Harper [official profile] of planning to pack the Supreme Court of Canada [official website] with judges who would advance a socially-conservative agenda, override the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text], outlaw same-sex marriage again and push Canada towards the views of the "extreme right" in the United States. Speaking in Toronto Thursday, Martin asked

Is Mr. Harper saying that he will be appointing judges to the Supreme Court based really on their political views? Are we going to find ourselves in the same situation that they are in the United States, where in fact it is not only the competence of a judge that governs, but in fact it is a judge's social views?Are we going to see a situation where what we're going to do is try to pack the court in order to overturn Charter rights?"
Martin also slammed Harper' comments earlier in the week that "activist" judges prevented him from ever having a "true majority" [JURIST report], even in the event of an election victory:
He talked about the courts standing between him and absolute power. Who talks that way? Who thinks that way? He spoke of the courts as his political opponents. He described them as an obstacle. A barrier between him and his agenda.
Canadian polls still show the Conservatives leading, but their lead has apparently topped out or even started to slip in some areas, with Martin's Liberals vowing to press their counterattack - seen by some as increasingly desperate - right up to the January 23 vote. The Toronto Globe and Mail has local coverage. The Liberal Party has also issued a press release.

 

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