‘Dangerous, undemocratic’: Trudeau’s liberal Supreme Court nominee said justices ‘make law’
OTTAWA, November 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Campaign Life Coalition says Newfoundland judge Malcolm Rowe’s stated belief that courts make laws rather than interpret them should be an “absolute disqualifier” for a position on the Supreme Court.
Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first Supreme Court nominee, who was sworn in officially Monday, espouses a “judicial activism” that goes against Canada’s constitution, asserted CLC in an October 27 statement.
Moreover, as Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin’s top bureaucrat in the ’90s, Rowe worked to add LGBT rights to the province’s human rights code, and to extend health benefits to pay for abortions in Henry Morgentaler’s private abortion facility, the Toronto Star reported.
He was at the helm of Tobin’s campaign for a constitutional amendment that abolished the province’s denominational school system in 1998.
“It seems like the Supreme Court justice will become yet another judicial activist who will ignore the law in order to push Trudeau’s ‘values’ on our society,” CLC president Jim Hughes observed.
The Supreme Court “is responsible for interpreting and upholding laws, within the constraint of the Constitution and common law tradition, rather than creating them,” Hughes added. “That has always been their main job. Canadians do not want judges changing laws based on personal prejudices and social agenda.”
“Laws are created by parliamentarians who are elected by the people,” CLC national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas noted. “Justice Rowe, right from the bat, has stated publicly that he intends to ‘encroach upon the authority of Parliament.’ This is dangerous, undemocratic and totally unacceptable.”
Trudeau’s first nominee to the court, Rowe is the first to be selected under a new process the Liberals introduced in August, in which qualified candidates can apply for the job.
Rowe stated in his application that the “Supreme Court is not, primarily, a court of correction. Rather, the role of the Court is to make definitive statements of the law which are then applied by trial judges and courts of appeal.”
“Through the leave to appeal process, the Court chooses areas of the law in which it wishes to make a definitive statement. Thus, the Supreme Court judges ordinarily make law, rather than simply applying it.”
Rowe reiterated this in a Q&A with MPs and senators on October 25, telling Alberta MP Michael Cooper that when it comes to Charter cases, “It is our responsibility to encroach on the authority of Parliament,” the Globe and Mail reported.
After a 12-year stint with an Ottawa law firm, Rowe returned to Newfoundland in 1996 and spent several years as Tobin’s secretary to the cabinet and clerk of the privy council.
Rowe was appointed provincial Supreme Court trial judge in 1999, and an appeals court judge in 2001. His appeal rulings dealt mainly with criminal cases.
After Trudeau announced his nomination on October 17, Rowe came under fire for a May judgment the Crown is appealing to the Supreme Court, in which he ruled against granting a new trial for a sexual assault complainant, the Toronto Star reported.
Rowe blasted the trial judge for allowing sexually explicit tapes and texts as evidence for the defense in a trial in which the complainant’s husband was charged (and acquitted) with counts of rape and assault.
But in a 2-1 majority decision, Rowe wrote that while he was reluctant to rule against the Crown, the complainant’s several instances of “untruthfulness and inconsistencies” had “gravely undermined her credibility.”
The Crown is appealing on grounds that Rowe made several legal errors and did not remedy a serious breach of the rape shield laws, which severely limit evidence of a complainant’s sexual past, the Star reported.
The 63-year-old son of a fisherman is also the first Supreme Court nominee from Newfoundland and Labrador since the province joined Confederation in 1949.
The father of an adult daughter, Rowe volunteered from 2002 to 2016 for the federal leadership development program Action Canada. He wrote in his application that as a child growing up in St. John’s, “I saw hard manual labor, financial uncertainty and sometimes want, as well as a deep sense of community.”
Rowe replaces Nova Scotian Justice Thomas Cromwell, who retired in September.