Ottawa, February 25 2021

Statement by the Chairperson of the Canadian Judicial Council

The Canadian Judicial Council takes notice of the resignation of Michel Girouard, announced earlier today, which narrowly avoids his removal from office by Parliament.  This is the last chapter in a prolonged saga that has undermined expectations of access to justice and has cost Canadians millions of dollars.

Canada benefits from outstanding judges who demonstrate the highest ethical integrity.  The Girouard matter shows, however, that the disciplinary process that deals with instances of judicial misconduct must be re-examined in order to correct such very unfortunate shortcomings.  The Canadian Judicial Council has been denouncing these inadequacies for a number of years.  In the matter of Michel Girouard, proceedings have been going on for eight years now.  Throughout this entire period, Michel Girouard has continued to receive his full salary despite not sitting, and he will now receive a pension for life, all at the expense of Canadian taxpayers.

As Chairperson of the Canadian Judicial Council, I reiterate the need to adopt legislative reforms that Council has long called for in order to improve the judicial conduct review process, and thereby maintain public confidence in the administration of justice.  On behalf of the judiciary and the public it serves, I therefore welcome the commitment of the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister to proceed with those reforms as soon as possible in order to avoid any such saga in the future.  As the Minister of Justice said today, "Canadians deserve better”.

The Right Honourable Richard Wagner, P.C.


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