Monday, 22 January 2018

AN EXCEPTIONAL CHIEF JUSTICE STEPS DOWN

When Derek Green, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, stepped down on December 1, 2017, the province’s judicial system received a signal that it was about to lose the contribution of “a great legal mind and jurist,” as Justice Minister Andrew Parsons acknowledged from the floor of the House of Assembly.


The opportunity to applaud Judge Green as an example of strong institutional leadership is too inviting to pass up. While this Blog spends far too much energy chastising others in positions of governmental and institutional leadership and pointing out their shortcomings, the system that governs the application of the rule of law has, by contrast, been managed in a way that exhibits intellectual depth, seriousness of purpose and unblemished integrity. 
With the government in a mess, and some of our institutions oblivious to their heightened obligations in the circumstance, it is reassuring that our judicial system — though far from perfect — is a beacon to the country and to the rest of the world.  Judge Green is surely one of the reasons such a claim is justified.

The Telegram, reporting on Justice Minister Parsons’ remarks, noted Green’s legal resume, his private legal practice, his tenure as chair of the Newfoundland Law Reform Commission, and his role as counsel for two commissions of inquiry in the 1980s.
The Telegram added: “Parsons highlighted Green’s work as commissioner of the more recent public inquiry into constituency allowances and spending by members of the House of Assembly, his efforts to make the courts more open and accessible to the public, and his advocacy for access to justice.”
Judge Green had a long career as a jurist. He was appointed to the bench in 1992 and named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court’s trial division in 2000. He took the helm at the Court of Appeal in 2009. Taken together, a span of twenty-six years is a remarkable career even in the annals of Canadian jurisprudence. 
Many people believe that Judge Green's greatest contribution was his work following the events that threatened to undermine the public trust in the House of Assembly. 
Cognizant, no doubt, that this is a place where the integrity of elected Members and of the whole institution is paramount, Green’s review was thorough and detailed. It resulted, many would agree, in a public cleansing of that institution.
But any lawyer will tell you that, as important as that task was, it did not define the Chief Justice or his long career. So how do we assess the contribution of Judge Green? Most lawyers suggest that will be found in his jurisprudence.
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Normally it is only when a Judge arrives at the Court of Appeal that their decisions rise to prominence. Green was credited with having an acute sense of the development of the law. Perhaps for that reason, his decisions were given notice and cited even when he was still a young trial judge. In other words, he was distinguished from the beginning. 
Lawyers seem to agree that, whether in how he administered the Court or in the course of hearing cases, Green had a capacity to consider the whole body of law that operates in the province. There was never any doubt, they say, that he had a view that was complete and unblemished in its clarity as to the whole pattern of jurisprudence in NL.
The Justice Minister referred to Green’s “great legal mind.” Others, too, state that Green brought to the bench a level of scholarship that was on par with any Justice in the country. 
Retired Judge William Marshall offered a similar view of his old friend and law partner with whom he also served on the Court of Appeals. Said he: “To me the distinguishing characteristic of Derek is his humility. Blessed with an utterly brilliant mind, this extraordinary learned scholar never showed even the slightest air of impatience or arrogance towards contrary opinions to his own, from whence so ever their provenance. Derek would seek out and invite differing opinions from his own… Such is the earmark of true scholarship.”

That Judge Green was held in the highest regard as a leading legal thinker of our generation seems indisputable. 
Another observer gave reinforcement to all those appraisals. He remarked: "What distinguished Judge Green was that he saw things both broadly and deeply. He held a perspective on the immediate issue and on the larger issue of legal development. He truly had a large perspective on law.” 
Ron Penney has known Justice Green since kindergarten and they have been lifelong friends. Penney is a former Deputy Minister of Justice and Commissioner of the City of St. John’s. He also worked with Green when the latter was Treasurer (now President) of the Law Society, and he was Executive Director. Asked for his appraisal, Penney commented: “He is a person blessed with a great intellect, honesty and personal integrity. He remains a judge and should the occasion require he is someone we can call on again to lead an enquiry into one or more of the important public policy issues which will no doubt arise over the coming years.”

Retirement will greet us all eventually, and it is right to acknowledge those men and women whose careers have made a difference to our society. But in a time of failing leadership and failing institutions, we need to be more cognizant of the best leaders and hope that those like Mr. Justice Derek Green will just keep on working.

25 comments:

  1. Well done UG in giving us, or the average Joe like me, an insight in the Chief Justice, who he was and some of his accomplishments. I like Penny's remark, "can call on again to lead an enquiry", sounds like the person that is need for the muskrat enquiry. However, I am not taking anything away from judge that has been appointed, and hopefully he will prove to be of the same caliber.

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  2. I have no reason to question UG assessment of justice Green. A couple of the underlying assumptions I must quibble with however. "The system that governs the application of the rule of law" may well demonstrate unblemished integrity but unless the checks on political power, transparency and accountability, complement a competent judiciary the result is still injustice, waste and corruption.

    The inquiry into constituent spending may have ended corrupt practices but what impact did that have on the billions wasted in secrecy without competent regulatory oversight now unfolding in Labrador?

    “A great legal mind and jurist” does not and can not in isolation save a failing democracy. Rather than spending far too much energy chastising others in positions of governmental and institutional leadership and pointing out their shortcomings, this Blog is the slender thread that keeps hope alive that democracy will win the day.

    Keep it up.

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  3. I too will salute the Chief Justice, and his public service to NL.

    However, one question; What legal opinion was he required to give the Leaders, regarding the dispute with Quebec over the Southern Boundary with Labrador?

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  4. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of Chief Justice Greene's character, civility and value to our province. He is an acutely brilliant, humble and genuinely caring servant of our society. Perhaps we can politely suggest, and/or gently impose, that he administrate a Forensic Audit to accompany the (daunting task of implementing the) public Inquiry. ??

    I'm compelled also, to say, (as I've mentioned on social media more than once), that Minister Andrew Parsons seems to be entirely without malice and as such (imho) should be heralded, cherished and supported widely.

    Obviously, we need such genuine and moral leaders in positions of power in these times of stark financial (and moral?) peril.

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  5. I fully support the view that Green was an outstanding judge. I take issue with UG's view ( and My view seldom differs much from UG) that our judicial system is a beacon to the country and to the world.
    One cannot reasonably challenge UG's view in a brief comment. I ponder if I should submit a piece to UG that he might publis it and reconsider whether he has gone too far in praise of our judicial system.
    PF

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    1. Perhaps UG could cold cite a few examples of how our justice system is a beacon to the country and the world.......or even one example? And when did the transition take place, must have been since the fishing admirals? Not to take away from Judge Green,but he is but one spoke in the wheel.
      Perhaps we should relocate the statue of Liberty from Ellis Island to Cabot Tower?
      PF

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    2. The statue is an embarrassment to the Trump administration and they would be happy to have it out of the way. You may be on to something PF.

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  6. In another province, A prominent Justice is 1 for 2 in convicting a Premier's assistant in complicity over the cancelling a mega power project to influence voters.

    http://www.tomadamsenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Judgment-David-Livingston-and-Laura-Miller.pdf

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    1. It is strange that there is more MF news in this NS story than the NL media is reporting. Energy now flowing to NS.
      http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1538928-nova-scotia%E2%80%99s-coal-habit-hard-to-kick

      Tom Adams has come out with full throated neoliberal analysis dissing renewables and telling NS to keep the power plants operational after 2030. He and his Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP) want to turn the free market loose without interference from regulations. He and they lobby against renewables and for fossil fuel use.

      Adams declaring renewables unable to provide reliable base load is the lie his pro fossil agenda hinges on. To bad Tom has gone to the dark side. He knows better.
      https://www.desmogblog.com/frontier-centre-public-policy

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    2. Bruno, Tom is no doubt vocal when there is huge boo boos ,whether on wind , solar or MF. Any of these need careful analysis as to cost effectiveness, which can vary greatly from one region to another, and as to climate.
      To keep coal plants, in NS in good repair in case of emergency, is like keeping Holyrood thermal as emergency backup, but hopefully little used. There are time when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine, and storage is very expensive, although making advances.
      Tom says he is concerned about the single mom in an apartment with electric baseboard heat that is not affordable.
      Seems Tom Adams shares your lack of knowledge of efficient effective electric alternative to baseboard heaters......and I need not say what this is.......And that such measures reduce electricity energy consumption, whether form coal, hydro, solar , gas, oil, wind or any source.
      Surprising Tom seems not tuned in to this, or I have not seen any pieces from him on this approach, first advanced some 30 years ago.
      PS, see the piece on CBC, the person who moved from Texas to Nfld,due to oil, and stayed because she likes our wicked weather, including only 1500 hours of sun a year! She should write a piece for UG to bust your myth of great solar PV cost effectiveness for the island......and win the 500 dollar prise that you think I owe you.
      Friendly ribbing, so keep your cool. 2018 will likely be an eventful year.......and we should be civil (so would not suggest Tom lies).
      And for the record, I agree with about 65 percent of your views, 90 percent with Des Sullivan, and 95 percent with Dave Vardy, 20 percent with the Take Charge scallywags, and not even 100 percent with my own, as I try to allow room to change my mind when presented with reasoned counter arguments.
      Winston Adams

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    3. Here is an idea for Electricity Trading to help pay for MF's. If there is to be justice then let the higher end users pay the most.

      In Australia there exists a system of trading water to reduce the cost burden and at the same time conserve water. In a nutshell it works as follows. Each household is sold an allotment of water based on the capacity of the city’s supply for a yearly period to be used as the leviers see fit. If a household uses too much water to early then the main is shut off from the municipal water supply and the home owner must now negotiate to buy water from another source-at a price decided between the two parties. Only after an agreement is in place to transfer water quotas is the water main to the house turned back on. This encourages home owners to conserve water while at the same time allow more savvy water users to make money from their unused water allotment by selling it to homes with excess water usage. Since the main goal is to prevent a water shortage, the system encourages water conservation on a larger scale because no one wants to buy water at a premium price. It is my belief that this sort of system would work well for electricity and help solve the financial difficulty we are facing in Newfoundland and Labrador.

      The idea would work as follows. Each household-rural and city as well as detached, condominiums and apartments would be given a basic electricity allotment based on historical usage. The same would be applied to industrial and commercial establishments and all would pay the same price. This would be at the reported price of 23 cents per kilowatt which will be the minimum needed to pay for Muskrat Falls. If a household or business conserves electricity sufficiently then they could negotiate a price with another higher end user to transfer an allotment of electricity and instead of a cash settlement, the money earned would go towards the conservation minded establishments electricity bill. This will make higher end users pay for electricity while at the same time allowing more conservation minded people to reduce their overall electricity bill. This sort of system would encourage conservation, prevent the general tax payers from footing the bill for Muskrat Falls and allow more electricity to be exported for sale on the spot market.

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    4. Unlike with water usage where everyone can conserve in this "cap and trade scheme" power usage is a function of ones financial ability to adapt. The old and poor will pay the most and be disproportionately affected. They will freeze and or starve in the dark.

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  7. The justice system is the servant and not the master of a democratic government. It exists to determine the legal status of a police charge, the validity of a law and to decide if the constitution has been upheld.

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    1. The Justice system doesn't look for solutions to our problems. That is the politician, businesses and community leaders duty of which they have failed miserably.

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  8. Has anyone considered the influence the Davos rich crowd has on the selection of political leaders in Canada, as well as Deep States round the world? Was Trump prior approved? How about our own M. Trudeau, who is working some magic at the table this week? Maybe a strategic Premier or two. I do not think that Horgan and Notley passed muster, but I can assure you that the incoming provincial parties have support in Davos.

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    1. All major political leaders are preapproved by powerful institutions with rare exceptions that get in by accident. With this pre-approval comes the necessary funding and support to get elected. To understand where the real power comes from, read the groundbreaking research paper "The Network of Global Corporate Control". The authors look at all transnational companies and who owns who using network theory. They prove that a very small group of interconnected companies controls most of the world. Not surprising, they are mostly financial institutions. Many in Davos are connected to this. Read the paper and you will see the world differently. I will attempt to link to it here and see if it works: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0025995#pone.0025995.s001

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  9. NS power rates;

    http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1538929-muskrat-falls-unclear-how-n.s.-power-rates-will-be-affected

    Another article says there is no market for Muskrat power in US. Will they rebuild the NB Link now? What is in NL Budget, based on these realities?

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  10. They seem to be coming out of the woodwork now everywhere across the country mostly business associated, predicting our insolvency may be nearing that we think when the bond agencies react, mainly because of the unions contract. (I am not a member of any Union) is the reason for that because when they heap the contracts on top of muskrat the scales are tipped so much that the warnings are being given. How much is the scale tipped independently, by muskrat vs the unions. I would like for Dave Vardy, or planetnl or some other economist or expert give us a comparison. Of how much muskrat tipps the scales compared to the union contracts individually and how much the scales are tipped when combined. Can't see how these experts can scream blue murder on one and ignor the other. Is there an unbiased expert opinion out there. Please step up, if not those who can only see one side...shut up.

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    1. I am not an expert, or an economist. I have an above average income, and will not suffer from much if MF fails or our economy fails.....I am lucky, and the exception. I will suffer reduced services, if I continue to live here, and I do intend to live here.
      You ask if MF or the union contracts weigh more.
      I think all Nflders must bare the burden, but some more than others, if we are to reign in the debt and turn around our financial situation. We must hang together to share this burden or we will hang separately. There is finger pointing to want to hang separately: MF the boondoggle, health care costs not sustainable, Board of trade etc blaming union contracts and too many govn workers, and unions blaming business for not paying their fair share and wanting more profits.
      I pay much more tax than the average person, and so I should. I feel I should pay even more tax, corporate and personal if we as a province are to turn around our financial situation, but only if all contribute more to this fiasco. The poorest can afford the least in more costs. It would take the wisdom of Solaman to weigh and assess the burdens that each should bare, and according to their means. It should start at the top , with the Premier and MHAs with roll backs in salary and pensions, and set the example. Surely the bond holders will notice a serious attempt to control our costs and raise revenue, and so keep our credit rating from slipping. We are on a slippery slope , if credit rating worsen, interest payments increase, and a spiral downward............and then we hang together: little for health, roads, education, and all services, edging towards third world conditions.
      As humans tend to act in self interest, this advise is not likely to resonate....complaining that we already pay too much including the levie tax. ............but it seems we face unusual times with start results if the fiscal reality is not faced sooner rather than later.
      PF

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    2. I still don't get it. The economic experts are still telling us that the unions and public services are going to sink us, but no mention of the muskrat $15,000,000,00 boondoggle albrotross around our necks. Is there any buoyancy in the boondoggle. Did hear someone on open line alluding to gull island might be our ace in the hold. Or was that another dam dream.

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    3. How can you not get it that the boondoggle has just about doubled our debt, and instead of an asset to make profit, can never pay for itself.
      Now unions and public services, health care all have to suffer big time.........but do you think the Board of Trade who promoted MF is going to say MF was at fault, or our engineering profession, who stayed silent, or Fortis, or the lame media, MUN engineering and economics dept, the MHAs including the Liberals and Ball, ........the contractors who made millions, do you expect them to say they were all wrong to let this proceed unchallenged........
      But this blog has been devoted to the Muskrat folly.....including economist Dave Vardy...........so either you have tuned in late.........or not aware of the logic that MF must now whip all of us.......for 57 years it seems.
      Buoyancy to the boondoggle........akin to Trump's adviser Steve Bannon saying Satan is good! Darth Vader is good.
      The boondoggle is BAD.......apparent from day one, if you had not been taken in by the propaganda of DW and his friends, and BOT etc. Do you expect Wade Locke , the economist of MUN, to take the lead in condemning the boondoggle? He should be given the royal boot. But CBC still looks to him for sound economic advise!
      PF

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    4. Lol....thanks PF for a quick refresher on some of those that caused the boondoggle, and now want to blame our near insolvency on the unions and civil service. Guess I was trying to make that point and trying to shame some of those responsible to give us the real cause of our fincincial mess, and not blame it on the innocent that is trying to make a regular living. After all if the public service is bloated, they did not hire themselves, they were hired by the same people that caused the boondoggle. Yup, blame the victim for the mess. No I am not new here I comment very often under annom. Of course. And followed muskrat from day one, and said then karma would come back to bight us all, the innocent, the poor and the average. Nope, I am not a union person or a public servant.

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    5. The out migration has started and this time in includes both the young and the old. Many retirees are also leaving for places like Ontario and Alberta so they can live out there lives with their children and grandchildren.

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  11. For a dark look at the unfolding class war and social upheaval unfolding in NL see:
    https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/kznj3e/a-depressing-dispatch-from-the-edge-of-the-worldnewfoundland

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    1. There isn't a class war in NL-never was and never will be. The young people will leave as they are now and many of the older and retired will follow them to greener pastures. This has been our response to economic hardship since the great depression and still is.

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