Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on March 2, 1998 · 7
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Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada · 7

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Issue Date:
Monday, March 2, 1998
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The Edmonton Journal, Monday, March 2, 1998 A7 Canada A case of the judiciary vs. Parliament Inquiry over judge's comments tests balance between courts and their employers Janice Ttbbetts The Canadian Press Ottawa When Marcel Joyal tossed out an off-the-cuff remark about MPs from the bench of his tiny courtroom, he had no idea he would ignite a debate that has sent a chill through the judiciary and indignation through Parliament The affable Federal Court judge is now the subject of a closely watched Canadian Judicial Council investigation that has raised questions about how far a judge can go in speaking out against the federal government or members of Parliament "This scares the hell out of us," said Joyal, who was appointed to the Federal Court in 1984. "An issue like this is something that has to be debated." Judges up to the highest levels see it as a test of how far they can go even in their written decisions before being censored by their employer. That's one reason the judicial council, which oversees judges' conduct, made the rare move of initiating its own inquiry before it received an official complaint last month from Reform MP Jack Ramsay The Joyal affair began two months "This scares the hell out of us.. ..An issue like this is something that has to be debated." Federal Court Justice Marcef Jcyal ago when the judge was presiding over a Toronto hearing in which Ted Weatherill, the free-spending head of the Canada Labour Relations Board, was seeking an injunction to prevent the federal cabinet from sacking him. Joyal made what he later called "off-the-cuff remarks" comparing Parliament's treatment of Weatherill to the cheering crowds gathered at the guillotine during the French Revolution. When Labour Minister Lawrence MacAulay earlier announced in the House of Commons that Weatherill would be fired for his lavish ways, MPs stood up and applauded. Joyal has apologized, but the question of whether he used his privileged position to attack the integrity of the House of Commons hasn't gone away The complaint comes at a time when debate rages over whether the judiciary has gotten too big for its britches or whether a growing number of complaints against judges is creating a chill that keeps them from speaking out on important issues for fear of being rebuked. "What you have here is a judge criticizing the other side and that's what's creating the problem," said Edward Veitch, a law professor at the University of New Brunswick and editor of Canadian Bar Review. "You're trying to protect the integrity of the legislative system." But Veitch added that in this case "it seems strange that the members (of Parliament) would be so sensitive." Reform MP Jack Ramsay said he lodged his complaint in hopes Joyal will be put in his place. "Judges should darn well sit back and reassess their duties and their responsibilities," said Ramsay "Who's running things in this country? What role do judges have other than interpreting the laws that Parliament passed? Certainly they have no business commenting on the conduct of the House. "We have a duty to protect the supremacy of Parliament on behalf of the people of this country and we can't allow a judge to interfere with that" Commons Speaker Gilbert Parent has also had sharp words for JoyaL "To say that respect for our institutions is rapidly eroding is an understatement When it is being eroded by some who should set an example for all Canadians it is even more damaging." Joyal has refused to talk about specifics because the case is before the judicial council In a worst-case scenario, the council can recommend to Parliament that a judge be removed, but that is rarely done. Joyal's courtroom comments that sparked the inquiry were: "I'm concerned as a citizen that a minister of the Crown can get up in . the House on the basis of I don't know what and say Tm going to fire this guy,' and everybody is up cheering. I was thinking of people around the guillotine I don't know if I have the right to intervene. But it left a bad taste in my mouth." Weatherill was finally fired by the federal cabinet in late January after spending close to $150,000 over his eight-year tenure on food and travel. Ontario MDs to be tested for hepatitis B The Canadian Press Toronto Most of Ontario's doctors will soon face mandatory testing for hepatitis B, their regulatory body has decided in a controversial move. Doctors will have to tell the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario if they're infected, but won't have to tell patients. ' Infected doctors will be offered training in other areas where they won't endanger patients, he said. ' Hepatitis B is a highly infectious blood-borne disease which a doctor can pass to a patient even when wear- ing latex gloves. It can lead to liver dis-' ease, cirrhosis and liver cancer. Several cases of doctors infecting patients with hepatitis B have been reported in j Canada. ' The college's governing council decided unanimously to introduce mandatory testing and vaccinations to ' Ontario's 23,000 doctors, even though it ' expects them to protest In 1994, after trying to introduce a similar policy, it backed down! The Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Dental Association both oppose the policy arguing it is an infringement on privacy and auton-' omy Child abuse study seen as overdue The Canadian Press Toronto After relying for decades on American data, the federal government will conduct a major national study of child abuse in Canada later this year. "We hope this will eventually help those who advocate for the safety and well-being of children," said Gordon Phaneuf, chief of the maltreatment division of the federal health department Child protection advocates say the national study is long overdue. "I hope that it will lead to some national consciousness raising about the issue of child maltreatment," said Mary McConville, executive director of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. Bruce Rivers, executive director of the Metro Toronto Children's Aid Society said the study's results might compel the federal government to increase transfer payments to provinces and ensure "adequate attention to children across the country" Social work professor Nico Trocme of the University of Toronto, who will conduct the study, said Canada has no national long-term data on children's welfare. "Without national statistics, we don't know if there are 80,000 or 250,000 cases a year," he said. But Bob Scott, spokesperson for the child welfare program of Alberta's family and social services ministry, said he's not convinced a "Without national statistics, we don't know if there are 80,000 or 250,000 cases a year." social work professor Nico Trocme, who will conduct a national study of child abuse national study will make a difference. "It's not a national issue, it's a provincial issue," Scott said. Under the Constitution, the provinces are responsible for social services, including child welfare. The $490,000 federal study will collect information on 5,000 to 9,000 cases from about 35 sites across Canada during a three-month period this fall. Researchers will look into the type of maltreatment involved, the response of children's aid agencies and whether court cases ensued. They will also consider whether there's a history of abuse, the parents' history, whether the family has access to support systems and whether substance abuse is involved. Phaneuf and others involved with the study hope it will lay the groundwork for change. "This will help child welfare agencies and others determine what sort of intervention is needed to help families," Phaneuf said. Results will be made public late next year or early in 2000. Digest Liberals want pause in doctor dispute ; B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Campbell is calling for a 30-day cooling-off period to resolve the doctors' dispute in northern British Columbia. He urged the doctors to resume work in emergency departments, giving a chance for the parties to negotiate a deal. Campbell said the government should "redirect up to $100 million of its total budget" to address the rural doctor shortage. I The doctors resigned hospital privileges in January because the government would not pay for their on-call time. A spokesperson for the doctors group said they pon't want a cooling-off period. "We will not be back until it is sorted out," said Dr. Stuart Johnston of Van-derhoof, 90 km west of Prince George. ! f Olympians asked to censure Cherry A sovereigntist group is asking the International Olympic Committee to reprimand CBC-TV sports com-: mentator Don Cherry for saying Quebecers were a ': bunch of whiners. His remark came after a Bloc Quebe-t cois politician complained there were too many Canadian flags at the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Gilles Rheaume, of the Mouvement souverainist du Quebec, has asked the Olympic organizers to remind "the CBC and its employee that such outrageous statements against a group of people go against the Olympic ethic." Cherry has refused to apologize I Residents short of milk after storm j Families were left stranded on their farms and communities were running out of milk on the, weekend after a snowstorm swept across the southwestern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It could be a day or two before some rural residents are able to leave their farms. The milk shortages were caused when delivery vehicles , were unable to make it into a few communities. Some hotels were full, prompting some people to open their homes for billets. Call for end to sanctions against Iraq j Demonstrators on Parliament Hill in Ottawa called 1 for an end to sanctions against Iraq on Sunday "Sanc-. tions are not getting rid of Saddam Hussein but they are causing the death of hundreds of thousands of I Iraqi children," said Richard Sanders, co-ordinator of the Ottawa-based Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade. ABB Beate Ae Banks! A K2S aa5o( ot 1 .l Alberta Treasury Branches 1

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