Ottawa, March 2 2020

Canadian Judicial Council Comments on Proposed Rules on Judicial Pensions Following a Finding of Misconduct

The Minister of Justice’s proposal to freeze the accumulation of pensionable time for judges accused of misconduct is a welcome and long overdue step in the right direction, the Canadian Judicial Council says.

The Council has been calling for judicial conduct reform for over two years, urging that the process must be more efficient and less costly to Canadians. The Council’s Chair, the Rt. Hon. Richard Wagner, singled this out as a priority in his welcome speech as Chief Justice in 2018. The Council has been working with the Department of Justice to strengthen the process for dealing with complaints against federally-appointed judges.

In response to the Council’s call for reform, the Minister of Justice had proposed legislation that would freeze the accumulation of pensionable time for judges as of the date the Canadian Judicial Council recommends the judge’s removal from office. The goal of the legislation is to avoid the perception of a judge challenging a removal recommendation solely to receive an enhanced pension by prolonging the removal process. The overarching goal is to preserve confidence in the judiciary.

Given the urgent nature of this proposed legislation, the Minister asked the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission to inquire into and report on it. The Commission did so and concluded that the proposal represented a reasonable measure. However, it expressed a concern about the potential effect on judges who may already be the subject of a removal recommendation.

Based on this observation from the Commission, the Minister changed his proposed legislation to now capture only judges who are the subject of a removal recommendation on or after its enactment.

The Council is concerned about this change, which means that the proposed rules would not apply to judges already subject to a removal recommendation. The Council sees no principled reason for this distinction. The Council is concerned that the rules as now proposed fall short of the pressing objective of eliminating any incentive for a judge whose removal has been recommended, but who has not yet been removed, to draw the process out. It is in the public interest that the risk of delay tactics at the expense of Canadians be fully eliminated.

The Canadian Judicial Council therefore urges the Minister to proceed with his original proposal.

Johanna Laporte, Director of Communications
(613) 288-1566 extension 313

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