Watchdog says Quebec judge should be fired after cocaine use inquiry

A judicial watchdog says a Quebec Superior court judge accused of buying cocaine should be tossed from the bench for misleading an inquiry into his conduct.

The Canadian Judicial Council says Michel Girouard's integrity has been 'fatally compromised'

Justice Michel Girouard is accused of buying cocaine two weeks before his nomination as a judge. The Canadian Judicial Council has recommended he be removed from the bench for giving unreliable testimony during the inquiry into his alleged misconduct. (Radio-Canada)

A judicial watchdog says a Quebec Superior court judge accused of buying cocaine should be tossed from bench for misleading an inquiry into his conduct.

In a report issued to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould today, a majority of the 23-member Canadian Judicial Council found Michel Girouard guilty of misconduct for misleading an inquiry into the suspected transaction. Three members dissented.

A council committee concluded in November 2017 that the judge attempted to mislead and conceal the truth during the review process. The council agreed with that finding.

"The judge's integrity has been fatally compromised, public confidence in the judiciary has been undermined and the judge has become incapacitated or disabled from the due execution of his office of judge," the report reads. "For that reason, we recommend that the Judge be removed from office."

In this video presented in court, Justice Michel Girouard hands over a wad of bills to a now-convicted drug dealer in exchange for a small packet. 0:24

Girouard was captured on video on Sept. 17, 2010, allegedly buying an illicit substance — two weeks before his appointment to the bench.

During the subsequent inquiry, he failed to provide a "simple, rational, coherent, all-encompassing or satisfying explanation for his actions," according to the report.

Dissenting view

In a dissenting view, three members of the council said Girouard did not receive a fair hearing because much of the evidence transcript used in the hearing was in French — and some of the council members speak only English.

"This is as a result of the denial of his right to a fair hearing, a denial founded on Council's failure to ensure that all participants in the decision-making process could understand and consider the complete record," the dissenting report reads. "In the absence of a fair hearing the majority opinion should not stand and these proceedings should be discontinued."

We dissent from the views of the majority and can not recommend the removal of Justice Girouard from office. This is as a result of the denial of his right to a fair hearing; a denial founded on Council's failure to ensure that all participants in the decision-making process could understand and consider the complete record. In the absence of a fair hearing the majority opinion should not stand and these proceedings should be discontinued.

According to Canada's Constitution, a joint resolution of Parliament is required to remove a judge.

Wilson-Raybould's office said the minister will read and consider the CJC's findings and "act in due course."

"She thanks both the Inquiry Committee and the members of the Canadian Judicial Council for their important work," said her spokesman David Taylor in an email.

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