Canadian Judicial Council announces dates for public hearings in the matter of an inquiry regarding the Honourable Michel Déziel

Ottawa, 27 January 2015 –The Inquiry Committee constituted under subsection 63(3) of the Judges Act to review the conduct of Justice Michel Déziel of the Superior Court of Québec has announced its schedule of proceedings. Six days of public hearings have been set aside beginning 10 March 2015 at 9:00 am. The proceedings will take place at the Federal Court in Montreal, 30 McGill Avenue. While proceedings of the Inquiry Committee are open to members of the public, space is limited.

The Inquiry Committee is comprised of the Honourable Ernest Drapeau, Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick (Chairperson), the Honourable Glenn Joyal, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba and Mr René Basque, Q.C., of the law firm Actus Law in Moncton. Ms Suzanne Gagné is Independent Counsel in this case, with the mandate to present the matter to the Inquiry Committee, in the public interest.

The Notice of Allegations which form the basis of the issues to be heard by the Inquiry are available on Council's website. These relate to Justice Déziel's involvement prior to his appointment as a judge in issues relating to the funding of a political party at the time of a municipal election. It is important to note that these are allegations only: no conclusions should be drawn about their merit.

Information about the Council, including the process for public inquiries, can be found on the Council's website at www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca.

Contact:
Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
(613) 288-1566 ext 302

 


Background Information - Complaints and Inquiries

When someone believes that a judge's personal conduct (on or off the bench) is in question, a complaint can be made to the Canadian Judicial Council. When a complaint about a judge is found to have some merit, the question before the Council is ultimately whether or not the conduct in question prevents that judge from continuing to discharge his or her duties. The reasons for removal are set out in the Judges Act and address cases where a judge has become incapacitated or disabled from performing their duties by reason of age or infirmity, misconduct, a failure to execute the duties of the position, or being in a position incompatible with the functions of a judge.

All complaints received by the Canadian Judicial Council are reviewed in accordance with Council's Complaints Procedures and, as applicable, the Inquiries and Investigations By-laws.

A complaint is first reviewed by a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee. The judge in question, as well as the judge's chief justice, may be asked to comment the allegations. If the complaint cannot be resolved at that stage, the file can be referred to a Panel of up to five judges for further review. After considering the issues, a Panel can close the file. In some cases, remedial measures can be pursued. The Panel can express concern about the judge's conduct when warranted.

After reviewing the matter and conducting various enquiries, a Panel can also decide that the complaint may be serious enough to warrant a judge's removal. In that case, an Inquiry Committee is constituted to formally investigate the matter. The Committee is deemed to be a Superior Court.

An Inquiry Committee consists of an uneven number of members, the majority of which are Council members. The Minister of Justice can also appoint lawyers with a minimum of ten years experience. An "Independent Counsel" is appointed to present the facts to the Committee. Proceedings take place in public, unless the Inquiry Committee determines that the public interest requires that all or part of a hearing be conducted in private.

After completing its investigation, the Inquiry Committee reports its findings to Council. While Council accords considerable deference to the Inquiry Committee, it will then report its own recommendations to the Minister of Justice.

In accordance with the provisions of Canada's Constitution, a judge may only be removed from office after a joint address by Parliament. Details about past inquiries can be found on the Council's website at www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca.