Inquiry Committee presents its report to the Canadian Judicial Council regarding Mr Justice P.T. Matlow

Ottawa, 29 May 2008 - The Inquiry Committee created to review the conduct of the Honourable Theodore Matlow, of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, has submitted its report detailing its findings and conclusions to the Canadian Judicial Council.  The Inquiry Committee’s report, available on the Council’s website, concludes that there are grounds to justify making a recommendation for the removal of Mr Justice Matlow from judicial office.

In line with the Council’s Inquiries and Investigations By-Laws, Justice Matlow can submit a written response to the Council regarding the report, within 30 days.  He can also ask to appear in person before Council, with or without his lawyer, for the purpose of making a brief oral statement regarding the report.  Mr Douglas Hunt, the Independent Counsel in this matter, may present a reply to any written response, or to an oral statement.

If Justice Matlow makes an oral statement to Council, the meeting is expected be held in public.  The date and location of such a meeting would be announced in the coming weeks.  After hearing all submissions, the Council will prepare a recommendation to the Minister of Justice, indicating whether Justice Matlow should be removed from office for any of the reasons set out in section 65(2) of the Judges Act.  In accordance with Canada’s Constitution, a judge may only be removed from office through a joint resolution of Parliament. 

The Canadian Judicial Council is composed of the chief justices and associate chief justices of Canada’s superior courts.  Information about the Council, including documents related to the Inquiry Committee in this matter, can be found on the Council’s website: www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca

 

Contact:
Norman Sabourin, Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
613-288-1566 ext. 301

Executive Summary of the Report to the Canadian Judicial Council of the Inquiry Committee appointed under subsection 63(3) of the Judges Act to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Mr Justice Theodore Matlow, of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice


    The Judges Act, R.S.C., c.J-1 confers jurisdiction on the Canadian Judicial Council (the “CJC”) to investigate complaints made against federally appointed judges of the superior courts of Canada. The CJC has established procedures and by-laws respecting the carrying out of an investigation by an inquiry committee.

    The CJC received a complaint from the City Solicitor of the City of Toronto respecting certain conduct of the Honourable Theodore Matlow, a justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. An Inquiry Committee consisting of the Honourable Clyde K. Wells, the Honourable Francois Rolland, the Honourable Ronald S. Veale, Douglas M. Hurnmell and Maria Lynn Freeland was constituted to investigate the complaint.

    The complaint concerned Justice Matlow’s conduct in connection with his participation with others in opposing a proposed development (the “Thelma Project”) in their neighbourhood of the City of Toronto and the process of municipal approval of that development. The complaint made allegations respecting the conduct of Justice Matlow in: organizing and leading the group opposing the Thelma Project; meeting and corresponding with politicians; using his title “Justice” in connection with the activities; promoting news media involvement in the controversy; using intemperate language and inappropriate comment; sitting on an application concerning street use in which the City was a party (the “SOS Application”) and which involved a local group opposing a municipal development; the process of municipal approval of that development and failure to disclose to counsel and his judicial colleagues the extent of his previous involvement with the Thelma Project controversy. The complaint also made allegations concerning Justice Matlow’s promotion of renewed media interest into his allegations of municipal misconduct respecting Thelma Project related actions more than a year after the original controversy came to an end, when he knew he would be presiding over the SOS Application.

    The Inquiry Committee resolved challenges to its jurisdiction in respect of certain issues and proceeded to hear evidence. A number of witnesses, including Justice Matlow, testified. A substantial portion of the evidence was put forward through an agreed statement of facts with attached documentary exhibits. Written and oral submissions were made by counsel.

    The Inquiry Committee concludes that, by reason of Justice Matlow’s conduct on several occasions during the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 in the process of leading opposition to the Thelma Project and municipal procedures relating to it, Justice Matlow has placed himself in a position incompatible with the due execution of the office of judge and has been guilty of misconduct. The Inquiry Committee also concludes that, by reason of his failure to take steps to ensure that he did not sit on any case involving the City of Toronto subsequent to the commencement of his leadership of the community opposition to the Thelma Project, Justice Matlow has failed in the due execution of the office of judge. With respect to his conduct subsequent to the termination of the community opposition to the Thelma Project, the Inquiry Committee concludes that, by renewing in October 2005 his allegations of municipal misconduct by staff employed by the City and at the same time knowingly deciding to participate as a judge in the SOS Application, Justice Matlow has failed in the due execution of the office of judge, has placed himself in a position incompatible with the due execution of the office of judge and has been guilty of misconduct.

    The Inquiry Committee notes Justice Matlow's expressions of regret but concludes that those expressions of regret, because of their limited nature, do not cause the Inquiry Committee to vary its characterization of Justice Matlow's conduct or its conclusions regarding how that conduct has engaged paragraphs (b) through (d) of subsection 65(2) of the Judges Act.

    On consideration of:

  • the breadth and extent of Justice Matlow's failure to conform to generally accepted ethical standards for judges, in the course of the conduct investigated;
  • the several conclusions that Justice Matlow has failed in the due execution of the office of judge, has been guilty of misconduct and has placed himself in a position incompatible with the due execution of the office of judge;
  • Justice Matlow’s currently expressed views as to the propriety of his conduct at the time, and his current views as to conduct appropriate for a judge who becomes concerned about what he or she perceives as misconduct in public office, indicate little or no prospect that Justice Matlow would conduct himself differently in the future; and
  • Justice Matlow’s limited expressions of regret,


the Inquiry Committee concludes that Justice Matlow's conduct is so manifestly and totally contrary to the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judiciary that the confidence of individuals appearing before the judge, or of the public in its justice system, have been undermined, rendering the judge incapable of performing the duties ofhis judicial office. Accordingly, the Inquiry Committee expresses the view that a recommendation for removal of Justice Matlow from office is warranted.

Background Information:

The Inquiry Committee that reviewed the conduct of Justice Matlow was composed of three judicial members, appointed by the Council, and two senior lawyers, appointed by the Minister of Justice. The members of the Committee were:

  • The Honourable Clyde K. Wells, Chief Justice of Newfoundland and Labrador (Chairperson);
  • The Honourable François Rolland, Chief Justice, Superior Court of Quebec;
  • The Honourable Ronald Veale, Senior Judge, Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory;
  • Maria Lynn Freeland, Senior Crown Prosecutor, of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan; and
  • Douglas M. Hummell, Barrister and Solicitor, of St. Catharines, Ontario.


Mr Douglas Hunt, of the law firm Hunt Partners LLP, is the Independent Counsel regarding this matter.  The mandate of Independent Counsel is to act in the public interest and to bring all relevant facts and points of law before the Committee for its consideration, and to respond to any further representations made to Council by the judge.  Justice Matlow is represented by Paul Cavalluzzo of the firm Cavalluzzo, Hayes, Shilton, McIntyre & Cornish LLP.