Conservatives are accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of stacking Canada’s courts with Liberal partisans, pointing to a recently appointed judge who has donated almost $26,000 to the governing party over the past 14 years.
But the accusation comes at an awkward moment for the Conservatives, amid renewed scrutiny of leadership contender Peter MacKay’s own record of eyebrow-raising judicial appointments when he was justice minister.
Justice Minister David Lametti appointed Toronto lawyer Andrew Pinto to the Ontario Superior Court this week.
A Conservative search of donations data filed with Elections Canada turned up almost $26,000 in contributions to the Liberal party and various Toronto Liberal riding associations from Andrew M. Pinto, including monthly donations of $125 for the past several years.
“Our judiciary should be appointed based on merit, not on who has donated the most money to the Liberal Party of Canada,” Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett said in a statement.
The Conservative charge comes as five-year-old news stories about MacKay’s judicial appointments began recirculating recently on social media, in the days after the presumed front-runner officially threw his hat into the leadership ring late last month.
In 2015, PressProgress, a news website connected to the Broadbent Institute, reported MacKay had appointed both the best man at his wedding and his best man’s wife to the bench in Nova Scotia, as well as the past president of his Central Nova riding association and a regular donor to his association.
He also appointed a former cabinet colleague, Vic Toews, to the bench in Manitoba.
At the time, MacKay’s office offered a similar explanation as Rappaport, in that committees recommended appointments.