First, Joe Comartin points out that police representatives themselves may not share Toews' reactionary point of view:
NDP justice critic Joe Comartin says he has no doubt the Tories want to reshape the judiciary. But he also thinks Canadian cops may have a more sophisticated view than the justice minister of what makes a good judge.Which may not so much be a danger of the Cons' plan as a reason to think it'll have little effect in the end. But much more significant effects could come in the longer term - as Patrick Monahan notes:
"There are any number of senior police officers and chiefs who don't fall into the mind-set that he's got," says Comartin.
"Toews will be looking for people who are completely ideologically driven. I think he's going to have a hard time finding enough of them."
Patrick Monahan, dean of Osgoode Hall law school in Toronto...believes that letting police play a role in vetting judges could put the government on a slippery slope.Now, Toews stands out even among the Cons' cabinet ministers in failing to recognize the consequences of his proposed policies, which may allow him to ignore these possibilities for the short term. And it could well be that the Cons could avoid them as long as they're in office - the first by choosing a particularly partisan way of selecting police representatives, and the second by simply ignoring anybody who disagrees with them as the Cons are wont to do.
Monahan predicts it wouldn't be long before other groups - victims of crime, prisoners' rights advocates, feminists, aboriginals - all demanded to play a part in the process.
"It's the first step toward politicization," says Monahan. "Then the exercise becomes one of trying to balance all these different perspectives...I think the minister is asking for more trouble than he wants."
But in the longer term, the Cons' latest needless fight with the judiciary may well have little impact at all...or even open the door to more progressive respresentation on politicized JACs in the future. And if that comes to pass, Toews will likely be left wishing he'd thought to look ahead.