Politics: Where's the Bread?
Prime Minister Plastic Man has decreed that any new Supreme Court Justice appointees shall now be questioned by a 12-person panel composed of the four major parties. The questioning will take three hours total over two seperate sessions, and will have no bearing on whether the judge gets appointed or not.
Actually, he didn't say that last bit in quite that way: he said "I will take account of the committee hearings." But he still reserves the right to appoint whoever he likes, and shoot down any nominee he doesn't, meaning that the examination is nothing but a PR stunt.
There are claims that this makes the process "more open", though how exactly it does that isn't explained. The process that matters is still conducted in the PM's office and no where else, as he is the only person with the power to confirm the seat. Meaning that this is a little bone to toss to whatever special interest or single issue fanatics are out there who are trying to get their knickers in a twist over a particularly galling pause or insulting cough issued by the nominee during the hearing.
And this helps... how, exactly?
I'm still not sure that the massively politicised nomination process down south is one to emulate, but it is Harper's dream to add blue to our bi-chromatic flag, so I guess that this is no surprise. But you have to wonder if having nominees giving their most inoffensive answers is really what you want: the original point of the hearings was to decide whether or not the appointee would uphold the laws of the land, not how well they could avoid their own opinions. That's for lawyers, not judges.
And you do have to wonder how appropriate the questions will be. Let's face it, while most politicos have had some legal training, the appointees have been doing it as their life's work. Isn't this a bit like having people who build model planes grilling an aviation engineer about aircraft design?
Ah, well. The new boy got in with promises of sops to his supporters, so I suppose this is just one of those. I know that's how every new PM gets in, but the Conservatives have been out of power so long that they actually expect what was promised to happen.