Osgoode professors comment on Supreme Court ‘TV grilling’

The Globe and Mail and Canadian Press reported Feb. 21 on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement of a historic change in how judges are appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. The prime minister said the nominee, to be announced Thursday, will have to submit to a three-hour televised grilling next week by an all-party parliamentary committee. Peter Hogg, professor emeritus and former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, will oversee the hearing and advise MPs on questions that would be both appropriate and insightful, Harper said.

Critics have complained that the interrogation will impose on Canadian Supreme Court judges the kind of partisan public scrutiny endured by members of the US Supreme Court. Jamie Cameron, law professor at Osgoode, said she supports the new process because it gives the legislative branch an important role in selecting a powerful court. Concerns about a US-style system are overblown, she said. “We seem to think that we’ll behave the same way the Americans do when we borrow any of their processes.” Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan said the added scrutiny could prevent politicization of the process by discouraging a prime minister from nominating politically tainted candidates, or those who are “outside the mainstream.” He told CP that the hearing process will allow more input into a system that otherwise gives the prime minister final say. “This in fact is a check on the discretion of the prime minister. There’s always a need to be concerned and watch what happens, but on the whole this is a positive development.”

Monahan told CTV National News that “Supreme Court judges are amongst the most powerful public officials that we have in this country. They’re more powerful than most cabinet ministers, and up until this week we’ve had absolutely no opportunity to scrutinize their records, their philosophies.” Interviewed by Global TV, he said, “There are going to be questions raised about the backgrounds of these justices. Isn’t it better to have those raised before they’re actually appointed?”

Glendon students studying in France visit Turin for hockey game

In a story about local connections to the 2006 Olympic Games Feb. 21, The Peterborough Examiner noted that York students Jessica Knowles and Jenna Maiwell, both third-year students at Glendon College who are studying in Lyon, France, had the opportunity to attend a women’s hockey game in Turin.

Street people still dying, memorial told

Bright yellow flowers and a much bleaker message marked an annual outdoor memorial on the anniversary of the death of former York student Edmond Yu, a homeless “psychiatric survivor” shot by police during a confrontation on a Toronto bus in 1997, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 21. Once a brilliant student who garnered top marks at York University, Yu was studying medicine at the University of Toronto when his mental health issues surfaced.

Osgoode expert is co-author of Fraser Institute report on auditors

CBC News reported Feb. 20 on its Web site that The Fraser Institute has released a report that aims to reform the bodies that regulate the North American auditing industry while maintaining investor confidence in the capital markets. The story noted that Poonam Puri of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School is a co-author of “The Regulation of Public Auditing in Canada and the United States: Self-Regulation or Government Regulation”. The report notes that the Canadian Public Accountability Board is sometimes considered too easy on firms. It was set up and funded by the accounting industry and provincial securities administrators.

 On air

  • Saeed Rahnema, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, discussed the funding freeze on the new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority by the US on CTV Newsnet, Feb. 20.
  • An item on Toronto’s CFTO News Feb. 20 featured York students practising nursing techniques with hi-tech mannequin patients at the School of Nursing.