Bad Form: The Globe and Mail Fires an Anonymous 21-Gun Salute

but aims it at Justice Karakatsanis of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The editorial, published April 3, 2013, is here. It has the title “A Supreme Court justice struggles to make an impact”. As one might expect, the editorial is not signed and does not provide sources.

If I were marking that editorial, on the merits, I’d fail it, even if its assertions were correct. That’s because the editorial provides no valid basis for its claims. The sole reason the editorial gives for its conclusion is the number of judgments Justice Karakatsanis has authored to date (without any mention of their content or quality).

For example, the editorial states:

Not surprisingly, rookie justices do not always immediately find their feet. Nonetheless, it is worrisome to see Justice Andromache Karakatsanis struggling to make an impact. In her 18 months on the court, she has written only three decisions on her own, none of them this year. She is a long way from pulling her judicial weight.

Another judge appointed on the same day, Justice Michael Moldaver, hit the ground running and has become a leader on the court. His CV included almost two decades on the Ontario Court of Appeal, where he served as a go-to judge on difficult or significant appeals.

I’m going to assume that the writer(s) of the editorial aren’t privy to anything they shouldn’t be privy to relating to the manner in which the Chief Justice of Canada determines who writes a particular judgment; nor to the discussions (such as they might be) amongst the members of the Court that result in the reasons. Given that, what’s the basis for the writer(s) claims that Justice Karakatsanis “is struggling to make an impact”; that she is “a long way from pulling her judicial weight”; or, even that Justice Moldaver has become “a leader on the [Supreme] Court.”

How do they know?

(I’ve assumed that nobody on the Globe and Mail editorial staff involved in the writing has telepathic powers or formerly worked for the Rupert Murdoch empire.)

The Globe and Mail editorial is grocery store checkout counter tabloid journalism at best, regardless of one’s views on whether Justice Karakatsanis was an appropriate choice.


  1. Released today, coincidentally:

    Penner v. Niagara (Regional Police Services Board), 2013 SCC 19

    Reasons for Judgment: Cromwell and Karakatsanis JJ. (McLachlin C.J. and Fish J. concurring)
    Dissenting Reasons: LeBel and Abella JJ. (Rothstein J. concurring)

  2. Your last comment (although opinion) is equally as tawdry as the opinion piece in the G&M. I thought the point of the piece, although a little backhanded, was really the problem with the SCC appointment process, and the failures of its purported transparency.

  3. If that was really the G&M’s point, then there was no reason to discuss anybody’s putative competence.

    You might expand on what you say the tawdry aspect is of my point about the authors of today’s majority judgment.