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Former Canada chief justice warns PM not to influence judiciary

[JURIST] Former Canadian chief justice Antonio Lamer [official profile], who led the Supreme Court of Canada [official website] from 1990-2000, warned Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official profile] Monday against influencing the judiciary to carry out his legislative agenda. In an interview with CanWest News Service, Lamer expressed concern with comments Harper made last week in the Canadian House of Commons that he wants judges to enforce his government's "law-and-order agenda" [CTV report]. Lamer said Harper was compromising the independence of the judiciary by encouraging harsher sentences and interfering with the sentencing process. Although Lamer acknowledged that some judges are too lenient, he characterized Harper's demands on the judiciary as contrary to judges' duty to be impartial and hand out sentences they deem appropriate.

Lamer also criticized Canada's system for appointing judges to the 1,100-member federal bench as flawed and denounced new involvement of police and members of the community in the judicial selection process [JURIST report]. CanWest News Service has more.

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