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Richard D. Jack, Regina
Jack is a former deputy leader and interim leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party.
Mitchell is no radical
On Sept. 11, Justice Graeme Mitchell struck down park bylaws that outlawed Tristen Durocher’s Walking with Our Angels Camp. Two days later, Justice Mitchell attended a feast honouring the end of Tristen’s ceremony.
Many people — myself included — are celebrating Justice Mitchell’s decision as a courageous, principled one. Others are energetically criticizing Justice Mitchell. Two bad charges have been laid against Justice Mitchell: That he’s some kind of radical activist, and that he should not have attended the feast and met with Tristen.
Justice Mitchell is hardly a radical. He formerly worked as head of the Saskatchewan government’s Constitutional law branch; if Tristen had setup camp five years ago, Justice Mitchell may have been called upon to get rid of it. In his former life, Mitchell argued for strict laws regulating nudity and alcohol (2000), argued against government-funded lawyers protecting prisoner rights (2008), and defended “essential services” legislation which the Supreme Court of Canada said unjustifiably breached workers’ freedom of association (2015).
On the second charge, some suggest that Justice Mitchell attending the feast showed he was biased in Tristen’s favour — despite spending his career working for the government opposing Tristen. I agree it would have been bad if Justice Mitchell met with Tristen before making his decision. However, their meeting has an entirely different flavour after the decision was made. By that point, Justice Mitchell couldn’t change his decision even if he wanted to. It’s no worse for Justice Mitchell to have tea with Tristen then it would be to have a coffee with his former colleagues at the government.