He wouldn’t elaborate on past comments that critics say risk politicizing the courts
Attorney General Doug Downey wasn’t keen to talk about his controversial justice system reforms on Tuesday during a rare media appearance.
Downey held an event in Toronto to unveil the new $956-million courthouse that amalgamates all Ontario Court of Justice criminal matters from six smaller courthouses across the city.
Ontario’s Attorney General has made some waves in Ontario’s legal community over the past few years, with ontario-governments-changes-to-how-judges-are-named-opens-the-door-to-patronage-appointments-legal-organizations-argue.html”changes to how judges are appointed and another change to how Ontario’s next chief justice is chosen.
Current Ontario Court Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve is set to retire in May. Downey wants more control over who replaces her, and that’s spooked some legal experts who argue it violates the principle of judicial independence.
In December, the Toronto Star process-to-select-next-chief-justice-violates-separation-of-powers-ontario-judges-warn.html”reported the next crop of candidates will apply directly to Downey. He’ll then interview them and quietly consult with people on their suitability. Previously, the outgoing chief had a role in recommending and vetting candidates.
Downey was asked for an update and more information on the process.
“We’re still on the same track,” he said Tuesday. “Applications are in. We have candidates. I’m receiving discreet inquiries from other members. Then there will be interviews and a selection.”
The process hasn’t changed in light of criticism, he added.
“I’ve executed exactly the way I said I would,” he said.
Maisonneuve, who was at the unveiling, declined to comment on the matter on Tuesday.
In a 2019 interview with TVO on the initial reforms to how justices — not just the chief justice — are picked, Downey said he wanted to ensure they share his “values.”
“There are two parts to the appointment of judges. One is to decide whether