Canadian Judicial Council Inquiry Recommends Sacking Toronto Judge
Under The Judges Act, R.S.C., c. J-1, the Canadian Judicial Council can investigate complaints made against federally appointed judges of the superior courts of Canada.
The panel found that his personal conduct in connection with a neighbourhood dispute made him unfit for office:
"The Inquiry Committee notes Justice Matlow's expressions of regret but concludes that those expressions of regret, because of their limited nature, do not cause the Inquiry Committee to vary its characterization of Justice Matlow's conduct or its conclusions regarding how that conduct has engaged paragraphs (b) through (d) of subsection 65(2) of the Judges Act."The report now goes to the full council, which has to determine whether to recommend to the federal justice minister that Matlow be removed from the bench.
"On consideration of:
"the Inquiry Committee concludes that Justice Matlow's conduct is so manifestly and totally contrary to the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judiciary that the confidence of individuals appearing before the judge, or of the public in its justice system, have been undermined, rendering the judge incapable of performing the duties of his judicial office. Accordingly, the Inquiry Committee expresses the view that a recommendation for removal of Justice Matlow from office is warranted."
- the breadth and extent of Justice Matlow's failure to conform to generally accepted ethical standards for judges, in the course of the conduct investigated;
- the several conclusions that Justice Matlow has failed in the due execution of the office of judge, has been guilty of misconduct and has placed himself in a position incompatible with the due execution of the office of judge;
- Justice Matlow’s currently expressed views as to the propriety of his conduct at the time, and his current views as to conduct appropriate for a judge who becomes concerned about what he or she perceives as misconduct in public office, indicate little or no prospect that Justice Matlow would conduct himself differently in the future; and
- Justice Matlow’s limited expressions of regret,"
Matlow had participated in lobbying efforts against a proposed condominium complex near his home in the Toronto neighbourhood of Forest Hill. During the dispute, Matlow accused Toronto city officials of misconduct and is said to have tried to influence media coverage.
He did not later recuse himself from hearing a case concerning a controversial municipal plan to create a dedicated right-of-way for light rail transit along St.Clair, a major artery in Central Toronto. That led city lawyers to lodge a complaint against the judge.
In a May 30, 2008 Toronto Star article entitled Crusading judge unfit for office, probe finds, Matlow's lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo is quoted as saying that the panel took a "very antiquated, almost monastic view" of how judges are expected to behave.
But other legal observers have praised the Council.
In the same Toronto Star article, Osgoode Hall Law School professor Allan Hutchinson said that the council "is finally taking its regulatory role seriously and sending out a message that judicial independence does not mean that judges can do whatever they wish."
The Canadian Judicial Council is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin. Council membership consists of the chief justices, associate chief justices, and some senior judges from provincial and federal superior courts across the country.