Vic Toews appointment seems to set new standard for blatant patronage by Stephen Maher, Post Media News, March 7, 2014, Canada.com
In 2005 a Canwest News Service analysis found that more than 60 per cent of federal judicial appointees had donated to the party in the five years before their appointment.
Back in 2008, the Winnipeg Free Press reported that Toews had tired of federal politics and was looking to get appointed to the bench in Manitoba. Columnist Don Martin wrote then: “The mind reels. If the Conservatives under Harper stood for anything while in Official Opposition with Toews as the justice critic, it was a clean bench kept clear of patronage deadwood.” The blowback seemed to spook the government, and Toews stayed in cabinet, moving first to treasury board and then to public safety. He was rumoured to be seeking a way out, though, because he was weary of politics, particularly the tricky business of supervising the RCMP. But a second marriage, a young child and an expensive divorce meant that he needed a big paycheque.
I was told that the prime minister had quietly told him he could go to the bench, but there would have to be a six-month cooling off period. Toews pooh-poohed that kind of talk, chiding journalists for their unseemly speculation. But then he retired in the summer, and sure enough, nine months later, on Friday afternoon, the government appointed Toews to the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench.
He will make $288,100 a year, $51,000 more than the $236,900 he made as a cabinet minister, plus his MP pension, which ought to make those enormous alimony payments easier.
As Martin wrote in 2008: “It’s difficult to fathom why the Conservatives would risk so much political karma on such a move.”
It looks terrible. The bench should not be used as a retirement home for burnt out politicians. That’s what the Senate is for, and certain consular offices.
The Toews appointment — less than a year from cabinet table to the bench — seems to set a new standard for blatant patronage, which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has watched Harper appoint senators.
….we want the best on the bench, and when you throw partisan politics into the mix, you don’t get the best, you get the best-connected. [Emphasis added]