05 August 2005

Ground of Appointments

One might say that senior appointments made by the head of governments reveal something about the ground, or cultural context, of the country. As the Supreme Court in either Canada or the United States does indeed provide the interpretations of laws relative to the country's constitution that shapes its culture, appointments of top court judges reflect how the head of government conceives of his nation. Likewise, the Canadian head of state - the Governor General - similarly provides a mirror in which Canadians are reflected back to themselves.

In this light, I make note of two recent nominations/appointments by respective government heads to respective, and reflective, positions: John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court bench, and Michaëlle Jean to Rideau Hall.

Prime Minister Paul Martin describes our new Governor General like this:
"Her personal story is nothing short of extraordinary," Martin said. "And extraordinary is precisely what we seek in a governor general who, after all, must represent all of Canada to all Canadians and to the rest of the world as well."

That story is one of a little girl descended from slaves whose family fled Port-au-Prince and the fearsome dictator François "Papa Doc" Duvalier in 1968, destined for Quebec. There, the little girl encountered the one-time intolerance of the province's pure laine society.

But Jean moved beyond that, growing up to become an intellectual, studying Italian literature, teaching it at the Université de Montréal and mastering five languages. She landed a job as a reporter at Radio-Canada — the first black woman to do so — and catapulted herself through the ranks there."
On the other hand, President Bush's choice of a highly skilled jurist is described like this:
Roberts appears to be the kind of judge that will interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench. He is reportedly a solid conservative. He's white, male, conservative, Catholic, heterosexual and has a few bucks. That makes him good enough for me.
Viva la difference!
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