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New Canada Justice Minister faces scrutiny as Conservative government sworn in

[JURIST] Manitoba MP Vic Toews [official profile] became the new Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Monday when he was sworn in [backgrounder] along with the rest of the cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] at a ceremony in Ottawa. Harper's Conservative Party [party website] defeated the incumbent Liberals in the January federal election [JURIST report], putting them into opposition for the first time in 13 years.

In the Justice portfolio Toews, formerly a constitutional negotiator for the Manitoba provincial government and later Conservative Justice critic in the House of Commons, is likely to come in for scrutiny and criticism over actual and proposed legal changes. Both Toews and Harper oppose same-sex marriage and have asked for a free vote [CTV report] in the House to determine whether MPs want to reopen debate on a 2005 law [C-38 text] legalizing the practice. Toews will also play a leading role in an expected Conservative crackdown on crime and the reassertion [JURIST report] of Canada's legal claim to the Northwest Passage [backgrounder]. CBC News has more.

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