Earlier this month, in a speech to law students at the University of Western Ontario, Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, criticized what he perceived as undue interference of the Federal Court in the decisions of his department.
Surprised that a Cabinet Minister would undermine the judiciary and not respect its independence, I twittered the following on February 11, 2011:
@MinJK maybe the Federal Court wouldn't have to interfere if justice was provided by CIC/IRB decision makers in the first instance?
I didn't actually expect any response, so I was surprised when, within seconds, the Minister responded:
@MinJK no justice means understanding that there is no place for 'untrammeled discretion' in Canada ...
Part of what I view as 'justice' is the availability of oversight over the decisions of the government. The 'Rule of Law' is simply a bridle or restraint over the exercise of power. So ... it's not about 'letting gangster Jackie Tran stay' in Canada, its about making sure that the process that resulted in a long term permanent resident being removed was done in accordance to due process.
Lorne Waldman and Audrey Macklin critique Kenney's speech in an editorial published in the Globe and Mail here. Obviously, they are correct. Kenney seeks to blame "clever lawyers" and the judiciary when, many times, it is his department (or the CBSA) that has delayed in removing individuals or in making appropriate decisions. Blaming lawyers and undermining the judiciary is something for right wing radio hosts (or Sarah Palin), but should be beneath any member of Cabinet.