Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Get Douglas Review Back on Track

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Get Douglas Review Back on Track

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Get Douglas review back on track


An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Nov. 22:

The resignation of the Canadian Judicial Council inquiry committee tasked with advising the council whether Queen's Bench Justice Lori Douglas should be removed from the bench is, at first blush, the worst possible outcome -- for both the judge and the public interest. In the result, neither the judge nor the public gets the airing of the issues each deserves.

Justice Douglas has lost the chance to clear her name and restore her reputation. And the public is left wondering about grave allegations made against someone who seeks to return to the bench and sit in judgment of them.

Those allegations include whether she engaged in sexual harassment of Alex Chapman, whether she failed to disclose facts about her past on her judicial-appointment application, whether she altered a diary entry that's critical evidence and whether she misled the inquiry committee's former independent counsel about the diary changes.

The inquiry committee hasn't sat for hearings since July 2012, following dismissal of the judge's application to terminate the hearing due to alleged apprehended bias of the committee arising from its counsel's cross-examination of witnesses. Since then, it's been tied up in motions and applications in the Federal Court, awaiting full hearing about the judge's bias allegations.

The Canadian Judicial Council has the right to appoint another inquiry committee. But, so far, it's not saying whether it will. It should.

But before it does, it should heed the resigning committee's advice.

The committee didn't simply resign. Accompanying its resignation was a closely reasoned 11-page formal "reasons for resignation." It outlines not only why it resigned but also structural legal issues that impeded it doing its job and might well hamstring any successor inquiry committee.

Douglas had applied to the Federal Court for a judicial review -- essentially an appeal -- of the inquiry committee's refusal to terminate its hearing due to its alleged bias against her. That review, technically, is still pending, but may well be moot in light of the inquiry committee's resignation. …

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