I actually agree with the government’s decision to appeal the Teitelbaum ruling, which found “a reasonable apprehension of bias” on the part of Justice John Gomery — although it really should have happened immediately following the ruling, not three months later — and definitely not in the middle of an election campaign. I said so at the time — to a card-carrying Conservative, no less — the very day the ruling came out. “You have to appeal this thing” were my exact words, I believe. There may even have been a thumping of the table for emphasis.
Not, I should note, because I am convinced that Gomery hadn’t – or, for that matter had – demonstrated “a reasonable apprehension of bias” — honestly, I’m still not convinced that he did, although he certainly did himself no favours with his now infamous Christmas eve chat with Don Martin — but because a finding of bias against a judge in any case — let alone something as politically charged as the Gomery inquiry — is, happily, a rare occurence, but one that is incredibly serious, and should go to the highest court in the land as a matter of course.
Of course, it goes without saying that the decision to appeal should have been – and, as far as I know, was – made not for political reasons, but this isn’t really about Justice Gomery, or Jean Chretien, or Jean Pelletier, or even the ghost that haunts us still that is the sponsorship scandal. It goes deeper than that.
Canadians have a fundamental right to believe in the integrity, independence and impartiality of our judges, our courts and our legal system — and I’m sure that, once the Supreme Court has weighed in, they will continue to do so — because regardless of its ultimate conclusion, the system will have worked, and – just as importantly – will have been shown to work.