Critics say that some of the 98 people appointed in June by the Conservative cabinet are being rewarded for their loyalty to the Conservative party, while a top minister says the appointments are merit based.

Among those appointed to various boards, courts, tribunals and other federal bodies are:

  • Gary Meschishnick, president of the conservative-leaning Saskatchewan Party, named to his province’s superior court
  • Basil Stewart, a failed Progressive Conservative candidate from P.E.I., appointed to the board of the National Capital Commission, which is overseeing the controversial communism victims’ memorial
  • Brian Coburn, a former Ottawa-area P.C. cabinet minister, also appointed to the NCC
  • Denise Ghanam and Thomas Robert Porter, failed Tory candidates, named to the Windsor Port Authority
  • Ray Castelli, a prominent B.C. Conservative, reappointed Chairperson of the Canadian Commercial Corporation
  • Troy DeSouza, a failed Conservative candidate from Vancouver Island, appointed to the Military Police Complaints Commission
  • Guy Smith, a judicial adviser to Peter MacKay, named as a tax judge with a salary of $310,000.

University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran said Smith’s appointment is particularly questionable considering Smith’s former work helping MacKay make judicial appointments.

NDP MP Pat Martin, meanwhile, called the choices “pure patronage pork” and said most Canadians are offended “by the idea that appointments are made not on qualifications but on who you know in the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office).”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also blasted the appointments, labelling them “the kind of patronage politics that this government has become known for.”

Retiring Justice Minister Peter MacKay defended the choices made by his department, however, saying they went through a “judiciary advisory council which does not look at political affiliation.”

“(The Council) looks at their long-time service as a lawyer, as an individual who has contributed through the justice system, through legal excellence, through merit,” MacKay said.

The Canadian Bar Association, meanwhile, said it was pleased to see that more than half of the 43 judicial appointments were women, “something fairly unprecedented in this or any government’s record.”

With a report from CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife