Analysis: Harper's Tories unapologetic for clashes with courts

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Justice Peter MacKay talk during a photo opportunity...

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Justice Peter MacKay talk during a photo opportunity before announcing plans for tougher laws for sexual criminals, at the Banbury Community Centre in Toronto in this August 29, 2013 file photo. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

David Akin, National Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 8:28 PM ET

The last Liberal Justice Minister was Irwin Cotler, a scholar and professor revered, even by his political opponents, as one of the world's foremost human rights lawyers.

For the dozens of lawyers at Justice at the time, each workday was like one graduate seminar after another, an intellectually stimulating day of debates on any number of the finer points of law. Cotler kept his department busy with dozens of files on any number of topics. Not all may have been related to any pending legislation but, hoo boy, was it fun to research, debate and write.

Then the Conservatives took over.

Vic Toews replaced Cotler.

The graduate seminars ended.

The Law Commission of Canada, set up for those lawyers to blue-sky ideas about "existing approaches and concepts of law" that would make law "more responsive to new and emerging needs" of Canadians was promptly shut down.


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