Appealing the Pelletier decision: This is about precedent, not personalities.

With the utmost respect to the family and friends of Jean Pelletier – who was, by all accounts, an extraordinary individual –  ITQ’s thoughts on whether the government was right to appeal the Teitelbaum ruling haven’t changed.

Actually, that’s not entirely true: if anything, it seems more crucial than ever that the court establish a clear and unambiguous standard of what constitutes “bias” – or at least a reasonable apprehension thereof – on the part of someone charged with heading up a commission of inquiry – particularly one so politically charged, and with such a high public profile. It’s no surprise that Justice Teitelbaum’s decision came up more than once during last week’s Oliphant Commission hearing – cited, in fact, by Guy Pratte, the very same lawyer who headed up the appeal that led to the Teitelbaum ruling, and now serves as as legal counsel to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

In the interest of Justice Oliphant, then, as well as all those other judges out there who may one day be called upon to lead a commission of inquiry – and, most importantly, the Canadian public, on whose collective behalf each and every such investigation is ultimately conducted – the appeal should proceed, if only to settle, once and for all, the question of when an independent inquiry becomes an inquisition.