Politics

Quebec judge Michel Girouard's removal urged after 'serious questions' over cocaine testimony

An inquiry committee of the Canadian Judicial Council is recommending Quebec Superior Court judge Michel Girouard be removed from the bench because of "serious questions about his credibility." The committee was convened to look into allegations that Girouard had purchased an illicit drug.

Canadian Judicial Council convened panel to look into allegations Superior Court judge purchased cocaine

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

An inquiry committee of the Canadian Judicial Council is recommending that Quebec Superior Court judge Michel Girouard be removed from the bench.

Earlier this year, the judicial watchdog agency convened a panel of two judges and a lawyer to look into allegations that Girouard had purchased cocaine.

The panel says there is not enough evidence to show Girouard was involved in buying illegal drugs. But two of the panelists feel the judge's testimony raises serious questions about his credibility.

Federal Court Chief Justice Paul Crampton, lawyer Ronald Leblanc and Manitoba Chief Justice Richard Chartier reviewed allegations from a police informant that he had sold Girouard a lot of cocaine before he was appointed to Superior Court.

Video shows meeting with convicted drug trafficker

The panel also heard testimony and watched a surveillance video that showed Girouard, two weeks before his appointment, meeting with his client who is now a convicted drug trafficker.

Girouard is seen slipping money under the desk pad and Yvon Lamontagne taking an object out of his pocket and sliding it across his desk to Girouard. 

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

The panel says there is not enough evidence to show Girouard was involved in buying illegal drugs. Both Lamontagne and Girouard said it was not a drug transaction.

The judge said he was paying Lamontagne, who owned a movie rental business, for previously viewed adult videos and that the object he accepted was a note relating to the final settlement in a tax matter.

Even so, Crampton and Leblanc have concluded, "we are of the opinion that the constellation of contradictions, inconsistencies and implausibilities in Justice Girouard's testimony raises serious questions about his credibility."

Girouard deliberately and intentionally attempted to conceal the truth during the hearing.- Canadian Judicial Council report

They recommend that despite what they call Girouard's impeccable record as a judge, he should be removed from office.

"Girouard deliberately and intentionally attempted to conceal the truth during the hearing," two of three panellists wrote in their report.

"A compromising of a judge's integrity through the giving of false and deceitful evidence before a committee of his peers undermines the integrity of the judicial system itself and strikes at the heart of the public's confidence in the judiciary."

But Justice Chartier, who does agree that some of Girouard's testimony was weak and ambiguous, does not recommend Girouard be fired.

"The evidence of untruthfulness, raised by my colleagues, is not sufficient in law to recommend removal."

Manitoba's Chief Justice adds that he's also concerned the panel isn't being entirely fair by imposing a consequence for misconduct that was not part of the original notice of allegations.

The final decision about Girouard's future as a federally-appointed judge would have to be made by Parliament.

About the Author

Alison Crawford is a senior reporter in CBC's parliamentary bureau, covering justice, public safety, the Supreme Court and Liberal Party of Canada.

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