Vic Toews appointed judge in Manitoba

Former public safety minister Vic Toews, who retired from federal politics last year, has been appointed a judge on the Court of Queen's Bench in Manitoba.
Former public safety minister Vic Toews has been named a judge in Manitoba. The appointment was made by federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Former federal public safety minister Vic Toews has been appointed a judge on the Court of Queen's Bench in Manitoba.

Toews retired from federal politics last year and it has long been known he wanted to be a judge in his home province of Manitoba, where he was a crown attorney before making the jump to provincial politics and serving as attorney general.

The only surprise with this appointment is that it came before Toews had a full year to cool off from his former jobs as the federal minister of public safety and justice.

Toews retired from his federal seat last summer, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

While not unexpected, the appointment will be controversial.

Toews was the face of the Conservative government's tough on crime agenda, which didn't sit well with many in the country's legal community.

'Old boys' club'

NDP MP Charlie Angus called the appointment questionable and an example of the "old boys' club" in action.

Liberal MP Wayne Easter said the appointment is more of the same from the Conservative government.

"This is just a political patronage, pure and simple, to one of their own rather than trying to find one of the best legal minds in the country," Easter told CBC News.

Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay made the appointment that puts his former cabinet colleague onto the bench.

Alan Fineblit, who is chief executive officer of the Manitoba Law Society and worked directly with Toews when he was Manitoba's attorney general, said Toews is well-versed in constitutional law, fair and a good listener.

But he concedes the appointment is controversial. 

"Toews was a polarizing individual, people had strong views about him and he himself had strong views, and that sometimes put him in conflict with the judiciary and with the legal profession," Fineblit said.

Toews has landed in hot water a few times over the years.

He was once fined for over-spending on one of his provincial election campaigns.

And in 2012 he told opposition MPs that if they didn't support his controversial online surveillance bill, they would be supporting child pornographers.