Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Canadian Justice Review Board - PRESS RELEASE

Visit: www.CanadianJusticeReviewBoard.ca
February 4, 2005
After reviewing the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) annual report, The Canadian Justice Review Board (CJRB) has sent a letter to Sheila Fraser, Auditor General of Canada. In the letter, the CJRB suggests that the Auditor General take a hard look at how the CJC conducts its business. The annual report from the CJC is normally released in August, but did not surface this year it until December 2004. Unlike the standard professional format employed over the past 30-years, the informal 2003-2004 publication abounds with abstract photography but lacks substance, says the CJRB. In particular, this year’s report omits any financial statement.

In addition to bringing the omission of a financial statement to the attention of the Auditor General, the CJRB letter includes exhibits that suggests that CJC Executive Director Norman Sabourin does not follow the rules. Written into its mandate, the CJC states that even if a complaint is without foundation, so long as it is in writing and names a specific judge the Council will investigate the matter. Therefore Mr. Sabourin’s notion that a complaint is “an abuse of the complaints process” is untenable. More importantly, by failing to record a complaint as such, Mr. Sabourin can skew the statistics and grossly overstate the level of public satisfaction with our judiciary.

Since the CJC consists of many of the same people as in the Superior Court Judges Association (comprised of judges of the superior court), current CJRB chairman David Kahn says “ If the superior court rules in favour of Justice Cosgrove (and the Association) and finds that the CJC stifles judicial independence with its doctrine of conformity to political correctness or if it finds that the CJC cannot constitutionally investigate judges, it would logically suggest that the CJC has become redundant. Inevitably, the suspicion arises that the CJC is manoeuvring to stealthily carve out some sort of new mandate for itself”.

In September 2003, the CJRB expressed public concern that the CJC is far too secretive. "The judges are paid out of the public purse and they are performing a public function in a public place. Given those things, people have a right to know what is going on within the judiciary. One thing that we think is important is to let judges and other people in the judicial system know that they are being looked at and scrutinized " said then-CJRB chairman and UWO law professor Robert Martin.

The full text of the Canadian Justice Review Board letter to Sheila Fraser dated February 1, 2005 is available in pdf format at: http://www.canadianjusticereviewboard.ca/Auditor%20General%20Sheila%20Fraser.pdf
The exhibits ‘A’ thru ‘G’ to the letter are available in pdf format

For further information contact:
David A. Kahn (chairman) davidakahn@CanadianJusticeReviewCouncil.ca
Lynne Cohen (vice-chairman) lynnecohen@CanadianJusticeReviewCouncil.ca
Gwen Landolt (secretary treasurer) gwen@CanadianJusticeReviewCouncil.ca
Robert Martin (past chairman) rm@CanadianJusticeReviewCouncil.ca

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