Judges are a branch of government, not its employees

  • October 04, 2012

Source: Vancouver Sun
Byline: Kerry L. Simmons

Re: High dudgeon in special costs award for B.C. judges, Column, Oct. 1

Ian Mulgrew's column miscategorizes judges as "civil servants," and misleads readers about the nature of the dispute between the Provincial Court Judges Association and the attorney-general of B.C. Judges are not employees of government. In fact, judges exist in part to ensure employees and agents of governments do not abuse their power.

The judiciary is one of three branches of government, the other two being the executive (cabinet and the bureaucracy of government) and the legislative branch (all of the MLAs). Each branch is equally important and has a separate but connected role to play.

While the province of B.C. is responsible for ensuring provincial judges' salaries are paid, the special relationship between the branches means that there is a different process in determining exactly how much is paid. The Judicial Compensation Commission was created, by agreement of all branches, to provide that arms-length process.

As was determined by the Supreme Court earlier this year that the executive branch, and subsequently the legislative branch, failed to follow the process it agreed to when it established the Commission.

To allow judges to be portrayed, and treated, as if they were employees of government is to deliberately diminish one of the most basic principles behind how Canada is governed.

Furthermore, it is disrespectful and unacceptable to launch a personal attack against Justice Malcolm Macaulay and suggest he discharged his duty with anything other than the utmost integrity and careful consideration.

Anyone can disagree with a court decision, but we must respect the process and those who make the hard decisions.

Kerry L. Simmons
President, Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch