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Harper appoints new BC chief justice

Just days after slamming Liberals for appointing 'left-wing ideologues'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced the appointment of the new BC Supreme Court chief justice who will decide which judges preside over future gaybashing cases in the province.

The prime minister named current BC Appeals Court Justice Robert Bauman to the position Thursday. Bauman replaces Donald Brenner who retired earlier this month.

The appointment comes as the possibility of a federal election hangs over the country.

In a widely reported speech to Ontario party faithful last week slamming the federal Liberals, Harper said: “Imagine how many left-wing ideologues they would be putting in the courts, federal institutions, agencies, the Senate.”

Judicial appointments are not subject to parliamentary or other approval hearings, and can be done at the sole discretion of the prime minister.

Two alleged gaybashing cases, against Michael Kandola and Shawn Woodward, are already scheduled for next summer.

The chief justice does not have the power to determine how evidence is presented at trial to determine whether or not convicted gaybashers have hate crime designations attached to their sentences by the presiding judges.

That authority to present any evidence of hate motivation lies with the Criminal Justice Branch and its prosecutors.

Bauman, a University of Toronto-trained lawyer, was appointed to the BC Supreme Court in 1996 and has served on the appeals court bench for the past 18 months.

Bauman is best known for his role in the third murder trial of Kelly Ellard, the Victoria teen convicted of the 1997 killing of teenager Reena Virk.

A fourth trial was ordered when the Appeal Court found, in a two-to-one decision, that Bauman failed to give appropriate instructions to the jury on controversial testimony that he had previously allowed to be heard in court.

The Supreme Court of Canada later overturned the appeal court ruling. It ruled Bauman had erred in allowing the testimony but the error could not have affected the verdict.

More recently, Bauman wrote the decision denying Crown an appeal of gay former Odyssey bouncer Sasan Ansari’s five-year sentence for the May 23, 2006 manslaughter death of Joshua Goos at West Vancouver’s Hollyburn Country Club.

Bauman completed a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario in 1971 and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Toronto in 1974. He worked with law firms in Kelowna, Prince George and Vancouver prior to his appointment as a judge.