"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Factually challenged

One J.A. Magrath of St. John's makes some awesome points in a letter to today's St. John's Telegram:
The three judges reserved for "Atlantic Canada" was for a time when there were only three maritime provinces. Our country was the seat of the first high court on British North America. Mr. Wangersky would not understand this, coming as he does from one of the provinces created by the federal government. It's our turn.
Or, at least, they would be awesome points, if any of his or her premises were true.

First of all, there aren't three judges reserved for Atlantic Canada. There are three judges reserved, by statute, for Quebec, for good reason: the Supreme Court hears cases from both the Common and Civil traditions, and has to interpret federal statutes consistently with both. There thus has to be a banc, and an odd-numbered one, of civilian expertise on the court.

At times in the early history of the court, there were two justices from the Maritime provinces. Since the creation of Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905, there has, by custom, been one, as there are now until the retirement of Mr. Justice Bastarache — not three.

Speaking of creation of provinces, Russell Wangersky is one of the Halifax Wangerskys. Halifax is in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia is not a province created by the federal government.

And speaking of Nova Scotia, it was part of British North America, and had British common-law courts half a century before Newfoundland did.

Nice try, though.


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