DWatch intervening in challenge of ruling that failed to uphold measures to prevent political interference by Premier and Cabinet ministers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, April 4, 2019
OTTAWA – Today and tomorrow, Democracy Watch will be at the B.C. Court of Appeal intervening in the challenge of a B.C. Supreme Court judge’s ruling that failed to uphold key measures to ensure law enforcement tribunals are protected from political interference by the Premier and Cabinet ministers.
The case Walter v. Attorney General (B.C.) is about whether the Attorney General can control the salaries of members of the B.C. Review Board (including Mr. Bernd Walter, Chair of the Board, who filed the court challenge and appeal). The Board decides the conditions of sentences for some people convicted of a crime who are not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
If the Attorney General can control the salaries, it means the Attorney General could cut the salaries of members of the Review Board if they made a decision that the Attorney General didn’t like. As a result, the case raises the issue of whether the Board members have adequate protection from political interference by the Attorney General, and the Cabinet overall.
The B.C. Supreme Court judge decided that, unlike court judges, members of tribunals like the Board are not protected by Canada’s constitution from political interference by Cabinet ministers.
The ruling was based on a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that set a standard that undermined the independence protection measures for hundreds of federal and provincial tribunals that make rulings on important situations involving human rights, legal rights, health and safety, government accountability and corporate responsibility. However, since that ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada has issued rulings that seem to contradict and raise questions about what level of protection members of law enforcement tribunals should have.
Democracy Watch is intervening in support of Mr. Walter’s appeal, urging the B.C. Court of Appeal to establish a broad new standard that ensures law enforcement tribunals are protected from political interference as much as judges are protected. See Democracy Watch’s legal arguments here (PDF).
“In order to ensure fair law enforcement across Canada, it is important that the court of appeal rules that members of law enforcement tribunals are protected in the same ways judges are from interference by politicians,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch and Adjunct Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Ottawa.
The hearing in the Walter v. Attorney General (B.C.) appeal is at:
TIME: 10 am PST
DATE: Thursday and Friday, April 4-5
LOCATION: B.C. Court of Appeal (Courtroom 50)
400-800 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2C5
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179 Cell: 416-546-3443
Democracy Watch’s Stop Bad Government Appointments Campaign