Get used to hearing ‘Mr. Justice Vic Toews’
Published Tuesday, August 14, 2012 4:24PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 14, 2012 4:26PM EDT
The fix is in. It’s now just a matter of time before Public Safety Minister Vic Toews becomes a Manitoba justice and his departure triggers the next cabinet shuffle.
All the legal chips are falling into place. There’s a looming vacancy on the Manitoba Court of Appeal, a friendly nominating committee and a willing justice minister.
Rob Nicholson, who will ultimately christen the appointment, suggested Monday he had no objection to a sitting politician going to go straight to the bench without a cooling-off period.
“On a hypothetical basis, I have never gotten into the business of eliminating any individuals or groups of individuals,” the justice minister told lawyers pressing him on the possibility that Toews was bench-bound.
But perhaps the more interesting development is behind the scenes on the advisory committee, which will ultimately prepare the nominee list for Nicholson’s consideration.
Three of the seven committee members were anointed by the federal government and sources say two of those are extremely close to Vic Toews on a personal and professional basis.
John Tropak and Marni Larkin have long-standing connections with Toews socially or as top aides on various campaigns.
The third federal appointment, Jonathon Sterling, is a loyal Conservative and son of a former Manitoba premier.
Not surprisingly, Toews’ office pooh-poohs any suggestion the federal justice minister is mixing personal friendships with a neutral selection process to get a desired result.
“It is natural that our government would appoint individuals with a strong track record of public service and putting the rights of law-abiding Canadians first,” says Toews’ spokeswoman Julie Carmichael. “Marni Larkin and John Tropak fit that category.”
Fair enough, but Manitoba’s legal beagles occupy a small kennel and having a pair of big guard-dogs behind Toews’ sought-after candidacy strongly suggests he can’t miss the short list.
This is not to suggest Vic Toews is professionally unfit to serve on the bench. The former Crown attorney and provincial minister of justice has a deep law and order background. It’s also hard to overlook the possibility that his recent parliamentary missteps may mean Prime Minster Stephen Harper would welcome giving Toews a change of scenery.
With the government as his partner in crime and the appointment process stacking up behind him, perhaps we should get used to hearing about Mr. Justice Vic Toews.
The title will soon fit the name because the fix is in.