On July 2, as a post-Canada Day wake-up call, CBC News reported that New Brunswick cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc was connected to five out of six of the most-recent judicial appointments in the province. The intergovernmental affairs minister—who is currently on leave while undergoing a second bout of cancer treatment—and close friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, didn’t respond to the July 2 report that the five judges include his neighbour (who paid him $430,000 for the property), three people who donated money to shrink his $31,000 leadership campaign debt, and the wife of his brother-in-law. In terms of population, there are fewer people in the province of New Brunswick than there are in the city of Ottawa, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that you can’t swing a cat without hitting someone LeBlanc-adjacent. A spokesperson for Justice Minister David Lametti told the CBC that there was no favouritism involved in the New Brunswick judicial appointments. "As with all Canadian citizens, judicial candidates are free to engage personally in political activities. The appointments process neither disqualifies nor privileges an applicant on the basis of political association," Rachel Rappaport told the CBC. Alright, it’s fair to say that just because you happen to know somebody in a position of power in a relatively small province, that shouldn’t mean you get barred from any career advancement. But it’s not like this is a new problem. The (incredibly unfortunately Conservative-dubbed) “clam scam” rigmarole saw Mr. LeBlanc taken to task by the federal ethics commissioner for knowingly approving an Arctic surf clam licence to a company that involved a relative of his wife. Mr. Dion said Mr. LeBlanc knew his wife’s first cousin stood to benefit financially from the contract doled out while he was the fisheries minister, and should have recused himself from the decision. The contract was rescinded before the ethics commissioner’s report, but the damage was already done. According to the Mr. Dion’s report, Mr. LeBlanc said he didn’t think his wife’s ties made him a relative of her cousin—one of 60, he said—in the bounds of the conflict of interest law. Mr. Dion disagreed. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that Mr. LeBlanc had any participation in the selection of judges, but since it’s such a small province, and there’s already a history of dubious connections, it wouldn’t hurt to run things through that extra LeBlanc-filter. If outside interests can spot the ties, there’s no reason the government can’t as well. Given the fact that Liberals have been said to check potential appointees against their Liberalist database, there should be a whole lot more vigilance when it comes to the appearance of favouritism. When Mr. Trudeau came to power, he did so riding the wave of a promise of “open, transparent, and merit-based” appointments. No one is saying that the people who were appointed weren’t qualified for their respective gigs. But if that’s the horse you’re riding, you’d better make sure you go the extra mile.