Dear Mr. Jerema,
Knowledge is preferable to unwarranted concern
On April 1 2023, a group of Canadian Jews published a document titled “Our Concern for Israel”.
The cause of the concern, as they phrased it is that that “the governing coalition’s program of judicial reforms could run counter the ideals and founding principles of the state. We are of the view that these potential reforms may very well cripple the independence and autonomy of the judicial system and impair human civil rights. The end result of any such changes needs to be consistent with the original principles of the Declaration of Independence….we believe it is imperative that we speak out at this time to challenge these pending judicial changes, in a clear, urgent, and unequivocally strong voice. Our love and support for the State of Israel require nothing less.”
With all due respect to the signatories, their challenge is not informed on at least three issues.
From the wording of the document, it is clear that the signatories have not done their homework before publicizing their concern. Hence their speculative and unsubstantiated conclusion that the reforms may very well cripple the independence and autonomy of the judicial system and impair human civil rights.
I will illustrate the preceding assertion with two examples.
The first addresses the concern about the impairment of human civil rights. In Canada, these rights are guaranteed under the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms subject to the limitation set out in section 1 of the Charter. But this is not the end of the matter. Pursuant to section 33 of the Charter, both Parliament and the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of the Charter.
In what way is the proposal to authorize the Cabinet to nullify a decision of the Israeli Supreme Court on a human rights case worse than preventing the Supreme Court of Canada from adjudicating a case in the first instance?
Yet one cannot reasonably complain that on paper the human and civil rights of Canadians fails democracy on paper, although naturally, as in any other country, the application and the enforcement of the Charter, is not always consistent and at times fails the day. Yet the folks who stated their concerns about Israel would not think of signing a similar document about Canada because they are loyal citizens of Canada, and they love and support the country.
The second addresses, the independence of the judicial system, which based on my readings on the controversy, concerns the change of the mechanism for the appointment of judges.
Does Canada allow the Supreme Court judges to select their own colleagues and successors Does the U.S? No, they don’t.
These judges have nothing to do with the selection and appointment of their colleagues and successors. That is because the selection and appointment of judges from a list of candidates considered competent to fill a vacancy prepared by an advisory committee, ultimately rests with the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister is ultimately the one who chooses and appoints the candidate who best fits his or her political, electoral, constitutional, social, economic vision of Canada with a feminist and ethnic/racial slant. A Liberal Prime Minister will not appoint an NDP activist or a right-wing conservative or the one the Bench happens to favour at the moment.
Let’s face it, the appointment of judges whether they be federal or provincial ones is more often than not a political affair, where the party in power rewards its active influential supporters for services rendered, who also happen to be lawyers whose qualifications and professional reputation is commensurate with the level of the court to which they are appointed.
I suspect that the signatories are not so much objecting to the substance of a number of proposed reforms as much as they are objecting to have the current Israeli government having anything to do with it and for that matter, with anything at all.
As a strong supporter of Israel with love, care and concern for the well-being of its inhabitants, with numerous relatives living there, I would strongly recommend that this and such groups stop publishing ill-founded concerns about Israel and its people.
Personally, based on the mediocre performance of the preceding government, I trust that Mr. Netanyahu, notwithstanding some of the members of his coalition, is the man for the hour.
I respectfully wish the signatories will express their “Concern for Canada” focused on the current government’s failures, including its failure to fight antisemitism effectively and do something worthwhile about it.
I wish you a pleasant and productive week.