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Liberals publicly attack 'haughty' justice minister (The Ottawa Citizen)

The Ottawa Citizen
July 26, 2001

Chris Cobb


Liberals publicly attack 'haughty' justice minister


Two members of the federal Liberal caucus are publicly attacking their own justice minister, accusing her of being "haughty and hollow" and of not understanding how cabinet ministers should behave in a parliamentary democracy.

In a remarkable outburst of political rebellion, Senator Anne Cools and veteran backbench MP Roger Gallaway accuse Anne McLellan of deliberately masking her intentions so recommendations from a parliamentary committee on custody and access can be shelved.

Their angry attack appears in a letter to the National Post.

It is the latest salvo in a battle that began nearly two weeks ago when they, and others, accused the justice minister of allowing bureaucrats to usurp the authority of Parliament by holding secret consultations into both the Divorce Act and Access to Information Act.

Ms. Cools and Mr. Gallaway suggest that Ms. McLellan revealed her bias on the custody and access issue in a 1991 paper she wrote for the Alberta Advisory Council on Women's Issues while she was still a law professor. In the paper, Women and the Process of Constitutional Reform, Ms. McLellan wrote: "... an increasing number of commentators now suggest that joint custody may simply perpetuate the influence and domination of men over the lives of women ..."

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Ms. Cools and Mr. Gallaway have been jousting with the justice minister and her staff in the letters pages of various newspapers, including the Citizen, National Post and Edmonton Journal.

In a letter sent to the Post yesterday, Ms. Cools and Mr. Gallaway began by attacking Ms. McLellan for a letter she wrote to the newspaper earlier this month.

"The minister's letter is haughty and hollow," they say. "Its collection of empty, contrived sentences prove ... that her department staff are active and political and not passive and administrative as they should be. We had suggested that Justice staff should take a course in the proper constitutional relationship between the civil service, the minister and Parliament. Obviously we should have elaborated and said that the minister herself should learn of the proper relationship between ministers of the Crown and Parliament, the people's representative assembly."

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