As a former lawyer, MP, federal minister and, as of last week, current Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge, Vic Toews might be expected to have developed a strong sense for the legal system. In fact, reasonable people could expect him to be skilled at interpreting the law and applying to situations with which he is faced.
Unfortunately, it appears that expectation is too high.
Known best for his “you’re either with us or the child pornographers” defence of the Conservative government’s
internet surveillance lawful access bill, Toews spent three years at the helm of the public safety ministry. During that time, he decided the fates of many Canadians’ right-of-return cases, in which citizens convicted of crimes in other countries apply to complete their sentences in Canadian prisons.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Toews has repeatedly come under fire for his “judicial temperament” in deciding those cases. His decisions to deny prisoners right of return were overruled by federal court justices in at least 11 cases, and in case the case of Yves LeBon, the judge overruled Toews twice when Toews denied the prisoner right of return after being ordered to review his initial decision. The judge in LeBon’s case, Luc Martineau, ordered Toews to repatriate the prisoner within 45 days.
Apparently Toews was under the impression that every Canadian who commits a crime outside the nation’s borders is a hardened organized crime mastermind eagerly awaiting their chance to wreak havoc on the homeland.
By judges and attorneys alike, Toews has been accused of “simply want[ing] to punish” prisoners who refuse to give up accomplices’ names, reaching conclusions that are “spurious, illogical, speculative and not evidence-based,” having a “whimsical” approach to his legal decisions, and having a “pattern of unreasonable and close-minded decisions that glossed over evidence.”
Toews, who is, it bears repeating, now a judge, is so bad at practicing law that the best thing Vancouver lawyer John Conroy could say about him is that he will hopefully “in his judicial persona, [find] a way to be judicial.”
[Winnipeg Free Press]