Is it time to reassess the Canadian Justice Council?


A Complaints A comment by His Excellency Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), was recently submitted to the Canadian Justice Council (CJC).

The complaint was made by Judge Wagner’s comment on the protest of the truck convoy in Ottawa. Le Devoire April 9, 2022, “Conforms to the definition of the emergence of rational concerns and impartiality in prejudice.” There are several proceedings to subdue sexual protests.

On June 23, CJC dismissed the complaint in a four-page letter signed by Acting Executive Director Jacqueline Corado. She said, “Given that your complaint is unsupported, primarily based on hypothetical scenarios, apparently insubstantial and unrelated to judicial activity, it needs further consideration by the council. I will not. “

We believe that the complete dismissal of a complaint by CJC raises concerns.

The CJC Created by Parliament in 1971, “To maintain and improve the quality of judicial services in the Canadian Superior Courts.” It “has the power and obligation to ensure the proper action of federal-appointed judges,” chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

CJC plays an important role in maintaining public confidence in the judiciary. If the judge is not cautious about commenting on the delicate political issues of the time, his credibility is undermined.Our society Claim correctly About the separation of powers between the three branches of government: the executive branch, the legislature, and the judiciary. Proper distance must be maintained so that the procedure of justice is not considered politically trapped.

The Prime Minister and the Federal Cabinet appoint all federal judges. The Prime Minister appoints all SCC judges and all Chief Justices at the federal level. Therefore, political considerations are evident in the appointment of the judiciary.

However, our “free and democratic society” has a long-standing principle that judges must not be political, inside or outside the courtroom. The reason is simple. Judges need to be fair and independent. All Canadians expect the highest level of neutrality from those who hear their case. It builds confidence that everyone is equal before the law. Judges are fair and impartial and come to each case with an unbiased mind to make the best objective assessment in accordance with the law.

“Not supported”

Given the official nature of Judge Wagner’s comments, plaintiffs’ position cannot be said to be “unsupported.” Judge Wagner’s statement is Le Devoire. Sufficient time has passed for him to at least clarify his comments to the CJC and the petitioner. Instead, Judge Wagner used more powerful language to double his criticism of the convoy.In his year June press conference In 2022, he called the effects of the winter protest “sorrowful” and “never happened again.”

“Hypothesis scenario”

While CJC’s concerns about the hypothetical nature of the complaint against Judge Wagner may have some benefits, there are additional issues not addressed by CJC in that there are currently no proceedings before him.

Chief Justice Wagner is the chair of the CJC itself.

As chair, when he faces complaints about his actions as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, there must be an open and transparent process to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest.

Owners of the Supreme Court of Land should be expected to comply with the strictest ethical standards. Judge Wagner himself admits: [judges] To ensure the trust and respect of the people, we simply need to keep ourselves at a higher standard.

Indeed, even if there were no incentives or undue impact on the handling of this complaint, the mere emergence of a dispute could undermine Canadian confidence in the legal system.

“Clearly insubstantial”

Justice Wagner was reported by Le Devoire “What I’ve seen recently here on Wellington Street is the beginning of an anarchy that decided to take other citizens hostage in order to put the law in their hands rather than respecting the mechanism … I think I’m worried. “

According to Judge Wagner, the convoy included “” remote-guided “people trying to bypass the political system.”

The article states, “A coercive blow to the state, the judiciary, and democratic institutions as provided by the protesters … must be condemned by force, which is believed by Mr. Wagner by all the powers of the country. There is. “

As reported by journalists, the presiding judge’s expression is certainly not lacking in substance. There is also plaintiff’s concern that, before hearing evidence on these questions, he observed that the Supreme Court justice seemed to have reached many conclusions about the convoy’s “participant’s purpose, method, process, and action.” There is none. These issues relate to the ongoing legal challenges for the government’s use of emergency legislation. Hearing such condemnation from the presiding judge can certainly question the impartiality of the judicial system.

“Don’t worry about judicial activity”

This finding is simply wrong, and obviously so. Under the heading “Judiciary Obligations”, CJC’s “Ethical principles for judges“For fairness,” to the judge, I think that the fair. … Judges should avoid using words and actions that can cause a rational perception of prejudice, both inside and outside the courtroom ”(additional emphasis).

The document further emphasizes that “out-of-court statements by judges on issues of public controversy can compromise fairness.” … When a judge’s activity attracts criticism and counterargument, the perception of impartiality is strengthened. This tends to undermine public confidence in the judiciary. “

“Does not guarantee further consideration by the council”

As outlined above, CJC’s decisions are not sufficient to properly handle complaints.The council really Related to If we say “to foster public trust through increased transparency,” this issue clearly needs further consideration. The CJC needs to do its job properly and analyze what steps can be taken to reassure the litigants in connection with the truck driver’s protest.

In fact, Judge Wagner himself is well aware of the inadequacy of judges in favor of political issues in other contexts. In 2012 he First appointed to the Supreme CourtHe reiterated that he described himself as an avid advocate of fair and non-political justice, and that it was a “guarantee of democracy and the rule of law.” Even when protests were unfolding in Ottawa, he Quoted by the Canadian Bar Association “we [judges] Do not participate in public discussions — it is the job of elected officials. “

A recent article in the Hill Times elaborated on the same subject, and the Supreme Court justice learned to distinguish between political and judicial roles. When he wrote:

“”[Politicians] Ensuring that the nation responds to what people need, based on the spirit of the times. But, as history shows us, times can go wrong. The judiciary aims to check it. Judges do not make decisions based on what is popular. We make decisions based on what is right in the context of the tradition of law and the rule of law. … Of course, the Supreme Court has the broadest possible perspective in deciding what is right, taking into account the situation of all Canadians. To that end, our independence is very important. … We cannot be satisfied. We must avoid the subtle imbalances that Canadians have worked hard to make right throughout history. “

When reading a statement from the Supreme Court on disputes such as truck convoys before the evidence is submitted or tested in court, a rational person can fully conclude that he has already decided. I can do it. This is certainly not a way to determine the debate over basic issues such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and state of emergency. This is for complete judicial proceedings, not a press conference.

The “subtle balance” of democracy is not provided by the presiding judge engaged in out-of-court interviews in the popular press. His fixed opinion on the core question should not be publicly stated before it is formally discussed in court. Judges around the world know this, and there are many examples of judges who refuse to be drawn into public opinion on the “potentially in court” issue. The conservative reason for this lies in the CJC rules, but clearly not in the actions of the presiding judge.

In addition, we should not lose that the presiding judge’s opinion on the truck convoy could affect the current deliberation in the lower court. And don’t forget the current status of the judicial inquiry conducted by Judge Paul Rouleau regarding the Prime Minister’s exercise of emergency law powers.

Given the importance of CJC’s mission, we believe it is time for Congress to reassess its structure and function. The CJC needs to organize how to deal with complaints involving its chair in order to give all citizens a fair judicial guarantee and transparency in grievance handling at all levels. In this case, Congress should consider the CJC and its actions regarding the functional handling of this complaint.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Ian T. Benson


Iain T. Benson, Ph.D., is a professor of law at Notre Dame University in Sydney, Australia, a professor of special law at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, a former member of British Columbia, and Ontario Birds. Currently living and teaching in Australia.

Barry W. Bushy