Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission head fired
16 Jan 2008
It appears that Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Gary Lunn, has dismissed Linda J. Keen from her position as President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (“CNSC”).
As I indicated in a previous posting, although administrative tribunals in Canada enjoy only the degree of institutional independence that their enabling statute grants them, my analysis for the CNSC is that it is entitled to significant independence, considering that its enabling statute refers to it as “… a court of record”. Also significant is the fact that its work deals with serious public safety issues, and its membership is employs specialized knowledge.
That degree of institutional independence imposes on tribunal members an obligation to reject any attempt at influencing its decision making in particular cases before the Commission. Ms. Keen carried out that obligation well, and her efforts have now been rewarded with the loss of her presidency on the tribunal, although she remains a member.
This government’s handling of the affair undermines public confidence in the workings of administrative tribunals, and sends a troubling message not only to the members of other administrative tribunals, but to every party with proceedings pending before them. The potential damage to the administration of justice before these tribunals should not be underestimated.