Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
20 May 2012

How to respond to art (hint: not with threats of censorship)

Canadian politicians seem to be slightly more mature about being depicted in a work of art with their private parts hanging out. The large oil on canvas painting, which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not pose for, by Kingston, Ont.,-based artist Margaret Sutherland shows the prime minister reclining on a chaise lounge wearing nothing but a subtle smile, surrounded by people in suits, whose faces can’t be seen. A dog rests at his feet as a woman in business attire offers him what looks like a Tim Hortons cup on a silver platter.

As reported rather tongue in cheek by the Canadian press, the piece appeared to draw out the art critic in many Canadians. “This is just too funny – think she painted him a bit skinny – he should really be wearing his vest,” Myrtle Graham posted on Facebook.”This made my day. Nude Stephen Harper is ART,” tweeted Denise Balkissoon.

Other’s weren’t as amused: “Oh dear lord: may have to pluck eyes out now,” tweeted Paula Schuck. “I don’t know whether to laugh or be horrified,” added Kelsey Rolfe.

The Prime Minister’s Office also took to Twitter to voice a reaction to the piece. “On the Sutherland painting: we’re not impressed. Everyone knows the PM is a cat person,” tweeted Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall, referring to the canine on the canvas.

Others on Parliament Hill took a similar tongue-in-cheek approach.”This is one case where I think we really do need a Conservative cover-up,” said Liberal MP Scott Brison. “I guess you could say in this painting it’s quite obvious that the Prime Minister has very little to hide.”

So far no one has threatened to obtain an urgent interdict to have the painting removed or destroyed. Not even cat lovers.

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