Toronto

Ontario judge cleared of perjury allegations over ties to Black federation

A panel of the Ontario Judicial Council has dismissed a complaint against a judge who had been accused of lying about his involvement in a Black activist organization.

Ontario Judicial Council panel dismisses complaint against Judge Donald McLeod

In a decision released on Wednesday, a four-person panel of the Ontario Judicial Council cleared Judge Donald McLeod of perjury. The panel had looked at whether McLeod committed perjury at a previous misconduct hearing into his involvement with the Federation of Black Canadians. (CBC/Martin Trainor)

A panel of the Ontario Judicial Council has dismissed a complaint against a judge who had been accused of lying about his involvement in a Black activist organization.

In a decision released on Wednesday, the four-person panel cleared Judge Donald McLeod. The panel had looked at whether McLeod committed perjury at a previous misconduct hearing into his involvement with the Federation of Black Canadians.

In 2016, McLeod founded the federation — which describes itself as a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization to advance the social, economic, political and cultural interests of Canadians of African descent.

Later, a complaint was made against him, accusing him of failing to uphold the integrity, impartiality and independence of the judiciary when he communicated with and met with politicians on behalf of the federation.

McLeod was cleared in the earlier process and now has been cleared of more recent allegations. 

Among other things, McLeod allegedly took part in a meeting and a telephone call, both which involved advocacy work.

"While we consider that both transgressions we have found could and should have been avoided, taking account of all the circumstances under which they occurred and Justice McLeod's positive contributions to the administration of justice, we are not satisfied they were such as to diminish public confidence in Justice McLeod's ability to carry out the duties of his office or the administration of justice generally," the decision reads.

"We have concluded that two aspects of Justice McLeod's conduct were incompatible with judicial office but not so seriously contrary to the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judiciary that, whether considered individually or cumulatively, they rose to the level of undermining the public's confidence in his ability to perform the duties of his office or the administration of justice generally. We therefore dismiss the Current Complaint."

The panel, however, cautioned McLeod to seek advice before engaging in community activities in the future.

"We hasten to add, however, that our findings in this case, as well as the findings of the First Panel, demonstrate that, in the future, Justice McLeod must exercise greater caution in his community activities," the decision continues. 

"In a society that embraces diversity and welcomes positive change, testing unclear boundaries that place limits on otherwise positive activities may not undermine public confidence in a judge's ability to perform their judicial function or in the administration of justice generally," the ruling reads..

"But once the boundaries have been established, they must be respected. In the future, Justice McLeod should seek advice before engaging in community activities that are not clearly recognized as permissible."


For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

With files from The Canadian Press

now