Critics accuse government of ‘stacking’ the bench,’ while it says it’s improving diversity. Criminal defence lawyers are raising alarm bells after the Ford government appointed a slew of new justices of the peace, more than a third with former policing, military and correctional backgrounds — a move at least one lawyer is calling a “dark day for the appearance of justice in Ontario.” Last week, the province announced 41 new justices of the peace would be appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice, effective July 8, following changes to the Justice of the Peace Act early in the pandemic. Fifteen of those appointees have past careers with the Canadian Armed Forces, various police services, border services or as parole officers. It’s not the first time a justice of the peace has had a prior background in such a field, but the scale of this new set of appointments is one critics say is part of a larger attempt by the Ford government to stack the bench and exert more control over the judicial system. “This is a deeply disturbing development,” criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt told CBC News.