Federal Court of Appeal rejects Justice Michel Girouard’s appeal of the Canadian Judicial Council’s recommendation for removal
On August 19, 2020, the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) dismissed an appeal brought forward by Justice Michel Girouard regarding the Canadian Judicial Council’s recommendation for his dismissal for misconduct.
In its decision, the FCA concluded that the Council’s decisions and procedures were reasonable and constitutionally valid. It further concluded that the principles of separation of functions and the judge’s language rights were not violated.
“Canadians benefit from exceptional judges who exhibit the highest ethical conduct” said Michael MacDonald, the Council’s Interim Executive Director. “Unfortunately from time to time, serious matters like this emerge, requiring Council’s review. The process is meant to deal with those judges who may fall short of the public’s expectations, while upholding the principles of judicial independence and fairness. As this case illustrates, the process has not always been as efficient as it should.”
The Council has previously highlighted certain legislative flaws in the process to the Minister of Justice. These flaws have resulted in conduct reviews that take too long and are far too expensive. Justice Girouard continues to receive full salary and benefits, while not having sat during this time, which has not motivated speedy resolution. This matter has cost over $4 million, including the costs to respond to 24 applications made by the judge to the Federal Court plus the judge’s own legal fees, all funded by the taxpayer.
This matter began in 2013. The Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec made a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council about potential misconduct by Justice Girouard. An Inquiry Committee found that contradictions, inconsistencies, and implausibilities in the judge’s explanations raised concerns about his credibility and integrity. The Council eventually recommended to the Minister of Justice that he be removed from the bench. The judge filed two dozen applications for judicial review to the Federal Court, which dismissed all of them. The FCA judgement fully resolves his appeal from this decision and upholds the Council’s recommendation to the Minister of Justice for the judge’s removal.
The Council continues to recommend that the Minister of Justice undertake legislative reforms to make the process more efficient, to ensure continued public confidence in the judiciary.
Background: Open Letter to Canadians
Johanna Laporte, Director of Communications
(613) 288-1566 extension 313