Judges who sit in provincial Supreme or Superior Courts (also Queen’s Bench judges), or Courts of Appeal are governed by the Canadian Judicial Council, a body of judges who consider and review complaints made about these judges. Mr. Justice Michel Girouard has been the subject of a Council investigation for the past five years, grounded from sitting on the bench, but still collecting his $321,000 salary, plus benefits, since the investigation began.
It began in 2012 when Quebec’s Chief Justice Francis Rolland learned that a drug trafficker and informant, Mr. X, identified Judge Girouard as his former lawyer and revealed that he sold cocaine to him. The investigation turned up a video tape showing lawyer Michel Girouard buying cocaine in a video store, just weeks before his appointment to the bench.
The Council’s first inquiry found insufficient evidence to prove that the judge had purchased cocaine while practicing as a lawyer, but several dissenting judges recommended his removal from the bench due to his “lack of candour, honesty and integrity” in defending himself against the allegations. However, later the Council voted unanimously for his retention on the bench, only considering the drug allegations and not the integrity issues.
Still later, the Minister of Justice, Jody Raybould-Wilson, and Quebec’s Justice Minister reopened the investigation to consider the integrity issues. The second inquiry committee interviewed a new witness who was deemed credible. This witness testified to interacting with Mr. Girouard and his wife and observing “white powder” on Giroaurd’s nose and his “stoned” behaviour. The committee found Giroaurd to be an “uncooperative and obstinate” witness and on a balance of probabilities, held that Judge Giroaurd had lied about his use of cocaine as a lawyer and ought to be removed as a Superior Court judge.
Yet seven months after the Council’s recommendation, Minister of Justice Raybould-Wilson has failed to take action. Judge Girouard is still receiving his salary and has received $700,000 in public funds to pay his lawyers to challenge the Council’s edict.
Further delay will cost taxpayers even more as Justice Girouard is eligible for a fully indexed pension in two years….it is not unreasonable to believe that legal proceedings could well take more than two years and then, the judge will likely retire with his full pension.
It would be naive to think that some of our judges have not experimented with drugs in their youth or in college, but using cocaine several weeks before an appointment to the bench is beyond the pale.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang