Judge Michel Girouard and CCM President Richard Wagner.  Photos: Radio-Canada and Supreme Court of Canada website


Judge Michel Girouard and CCM President Richard Wagner. Photos: Radio-Canada and Supreme Court of Canada website

This statement by the president of the CCM, Richard wagner, follows the resignation of the judge on Thursday Michel Girouard, of the Superior Court of Quebec. Justice Girouard, of Val-d’Or, saw the Supreme Court refuse to hear his request to appeal a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal, in his dispute with the CJC.

“The Girouard affair demonstrates (…) that the disciplinary process that deals with cases of delinquent judges must be reviewed in order to correct the shortcomings that have caused such a slippage,” Richard Wagner said in writing. The Canadian Judicial Council has effectively denounced these shortcomings for several years. In the case of Michel Girouard, the affair has been going on for eight years already. During all these years, Michel Girouard continued to receive his full salary without having sat as a judge, and he will now receive a pension for life, all at the expense of Canadian taxpayers. “

A desired reform

This statement by Richard Wagner, who is also Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, joins that of Minister Lametti, who denounced the slowness of procedures in the Michel Girouard case.

“The long, costly and sometimes frustrating process that ended today demonstrates the need to reform the disciplinary process of the judiciary,” the minister said in a written statement sent to the media on Thursday. To this end, our government is developing proposals so that the disciplinary process leads to final decisions fairly and quickly and at a reasonable cost to the public purse, while respecting the requirements of judicial independence. Canadians deserve better and we are working hard to ensure that this does not happen again. “

A long saga

In his statement, Chief Justice Wagner believes that the Girouard case demonstrates the shortcomings of the current process. “This is the latest act in a saga that has lasted too long, that has violated the rights of access to justice for litigants and that has cost Canadians millions of dollars. “

The saga in question began in 2012, during the trials stemming from Operation Écrevisse, a vast police operation carried out on October 6, 2010 in the Val-d’Or sector, in the Abitibi region. Over 60 drug traffickers have been arrested, including leaders Denis Lefebvre, Serge Pomerleau and Yves denis.

During the “Écrevisse trials”, one of the witnesses claimed to have sold more than $ 100,000 worth of cocaine to Judge Girouard while he was a lawyer. The Crown had presented in evidence a video showing the judge in the back room of a video store in Val-d’Or, who hands a piece of paper to one of the co-accused, in exchange for which he receives an object not identified.

The Canadian Judicial Council had taken up the case, and following the investigation, had decided, by majority vote not to recommend the dismissal of the judge, since it was impossible to prove beyond a doubt reasonable that he had bought cocaine.

However, the inquiry committee considered that Judge Girouard had not been transparent in his testimony. At the end of a second investigation, in May 2017, the committee recommended the dismissal of Judge Valdorien.