Michel Girouard is a judge with the Quebec Superior Court. He was suspended with pay in 2013 pending a review by three of his peers for allegations that he bought cocaine. The three have since determined that there was not enough evidence to charge him so they haven’t. They also concluded that Justice Girouard was not a credible witness when testifying on his own behalf. They said, “If Justice Girouard were to continue as a judge of the Superior Court of Quebec, this would, in our opinion, undermine public confidence in the entire judicial system.”
Several points need to be made here. One; the alleged offences happened over 25 years ago during the period 1987 – 1991. Two; he was not charged. So, on the face of it, he should go about his business.
But, when questioned by his peers, he was judged ‘not credible’. In effect, three of his peers judged him as evasive and not telling the truth. That might still leave him uncharged and unconvicted but it should at least mean that he is guilty of a level of contempt. And, as we all know, contempt of court is worse than murder.
Still, it was NOT a court, it was just an investigation. No proof. No charges. No conviction. Maybe he should be allowed to go about his business?
Or should he? Don’t forget – there is a basic tenet in law that ‘not only must justice be done, it must be SEEN to be done. And quickly! Time is of the essence. In other words, appearance of process must be as impeccable as process.
Frankly, I do not think there has been the proper standard of appearances in this matter but who the hell am I? Let us move on to the real issue…
Mr. Girouard has been suspended with pay since January 2013. I am guessing that his salary is in the neighbourhood of $200K a year but I do not know (I just checked. I was wrong. I do not know Marcel’s salary but the average is $350,000 plus a helluva lot of benefits). I just know that the system does not skimp on paying tax dollars to high ranking civil servants and judges are pretty high up. So, Mr. Girouard has been paid $1,000,000 (give or take) to sit on his butt.
Compare that to an ordinary person charged with a crime or ‘being investigated’. DO NOT compare to a senator like Duffy.
And therein lies the issue that concerns me: Canadian justice is slow. Too slow. Slower than glaciers (OK, that is partly due to global warming but it is still SLOW). So the ‘appearance’ of justice in this case is made worse by the time it is taking to essentially do more ‘nothing’. NOT only is it slow but it is very expensive. We, the taxpayers are paying for the lethargy of the system and, in this case, that lethargy is actually BENEFITING the accused. How long does it take for three ‘peers’ to determine if there is enough evidence to make a charge stick? NOT three years!!!
Mr. Girouard is happy to let the process drag on. Why not? He is getting paid. The peers are happy to go slow. Why not? They are getting paid, too.
That it took them 25 years to even allege wrongdoing is stupid enough but that it took three years for three judges to ‘think about’ whether there is a case to be had….that’s ludicrous.
Even stupider? Their conclusion was tabled to the Federal minister in November.
“The minister thanks the Canadian Judicial Council for their work and she will be reviewing their report,” said Michael Davis, a spokesman for the minister.
My advice to Girouard: “Book a slow cruise around the world, Marcel. They won’t be doing much on this. Not any time soon, anyway!”