By Gudrun Schultz

TORONTO, Ontario, January 19, 2006 ( – Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said Canada’s court system is influenced by Liberal-appointed justices who pursue a social activist agenda, in a statement to reporters yesterday.

Asked whether there are activist judges with a social agenda, he said: “Some are and some aren’t.”

“I am merely pointing out a fact that courts, for the most part, have been appointed by another political party. But courts are supposed to be independent regardless of who appoints them and they are an independent check and balance,” Harper said.

Harper said he would want to see particular qualities when choosing judicial appointees. “What we will be looking for is what I call the judicial temperament,” he told reporters. “And that is the ability to competently and shrewdly and wisely apply the laws that are passed by the Parliament of Canada.”

Today’s Toronto Star reports Irwin Cotler, Canada’s Justice Minister and Attorney General, responded that Harper’s statements were “disrespectful of the rule of law, of the independence of the judiciary and the administration of justice.”

The Liberal–dominated Senate is also a concern, Harper said, if his party forms a government, since they have obstructed legislation in the past when Conservatives were in power.

“The Liberal Senate in the past was extremely uncooperative when their party wasn’t in power, so it’s a worry,” he said.
“I hope that better judgment will prevail and the unelected Senate will play the role that historically it has played, which has been a useful technical role but will not try and interfere with the democratic will of the elected House.”

In the past Harper has accused the Liberal government of deliberately using justice appointments to bypass the Canadian public in pushing through controversial legislation. In 2003, after courts in British Columbia and Ontario legalized same-sex unions, Mr. Harper, then the leader of the Canadian Alliance, accused former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien of intentionally stacking the courts with sympathetic judges.

“They didn’t want to come to Parliament, they didn’t want to go to the Canadian people and be honest that this is what they wanted,” he said at that time of the Liberals. “They had the courts do it for them; they put the judges in they wanted, then they failed to appeal, failed to fight the case in court.”(Globe and Mail)

In December 2005 the Supreme Court legalized swingers clubs and group sex venues in a controversial ruling that Harper has said his government will revisit if it comes to power.

See LifeSiteNews coverage:

Canada Legalizes “Sex Clubs” – “14-year-olds will be exploited”
  Only Harper Says His Gov’t Would Address Swingers Club Ruling