After arriving in Toronto mid-afternoon on Friday, we checked into our hotel and then proceeded to the beautiful Toronto University campus for the commencement of the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference.
The Manning Centre (in conjunction with former intern Portia Proctor) presented Court Tracker, the culmination of over a year in research on the past sixteen years of the Canadian Supreme Court. It focuses on how often justices ruled in the same way, voting blocs and under which administration that justice was appointed.
Court Tracker was the first project of its kind in Canada and understandably received an extremely positive reaction from the audience at the Conference. In the United States, the sort of analysis of data undertaken for the report is commonplace, as most people are aware appointments to the US Supreme Court are partisan and can have a significant role in shaping policy.
In Commonwealth countries, appointments to the highest court are largely seen as impartial; however, Court Tracker demonstrates that there are some distinct voting blocs within the Canadian Supreme Court. While divisions are not as clear as they are in the United States. Court Tracker provides insight into an area where information was previously only accessible if you knew where to find it and how it should be interpreted.
Georgina (Institute of Liberal Studies intern) was also in Toronto for the Conference, and we took the opportunity to do some sightseeing after the conference ended at noon on Sunday. We visited an ice skating rink downtown (although it was far too cold to tempt me to skate), The Eaton Centre (a large shopping mall) and The CN Tower, which provided a fantastic view over the city. My never-ending pursuit for the best cup of coffee continued in Toronto and I wasn’t disappointed. I found an independent coffee shop in a renovated heritage building and ensured that we took a quick detour there.
After a few days of catching up on work at the office, on the Thursday morning I attended an Alberta Jobs Taskforce community meeting in the suburbs north of Calgary, an event hosted by Federal Conservative MP, Michelle Rempel. I heard from many Calgarians who’d come to share their stories.
One man who was days from his house being foreclosed on, a mother whose son has a daughter with cerebral palsy and has been out of work for 18 months and business owners who have just been hit by the new provincial carbon tax and increases in municipal property taxes. Alberta’s unemployment rate is at 9% (in Perth we talk of a crisis at 6.5%), it’s not the time for increased government regulation and taxation. As we’re aware in Australia, no country has ever taxed its way to prosperity.