A Quebec superior court judge facing allegations that he helped commit election fraud 15 years ago will not be removed from office.
A statement from the office of the Minister of Justice today said that Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has accepted the recommendation of the Canadian Judicial Council that Justice Michel Déziel not be removed from office.
“The Council had thoroughly canvassed and considered the many factors at issue in light of the importance of a judge’s integrity to public confidence in the justice system,” the press release said. “The Minister takes her responsibilities with respect to the judicial discipline process very seriously. Her acceptance of the CJC’s recommendation brings the discipline proceedings in respect of Justice Deziel to an end.”
Déziel, who is currently a sitting judge in Laval, Que., faced a CJC inquiry in March last year following allegations against him made by a witness at the Charbonneau Inquiry. A former political fixer, Gilles Cloutier, testified that Déziel helped commit election fraud during a 1997 election campaign while Déziel was a lawyer and working on an election campaign in Blainville, Que.
Cloutier said Déziel gave him an envelope containing $30,000 in $100 bills. He said Déziel told him to convert the money into $750 cheques, to support Pierre Gingras’s Parti de l’action civique de Blainville.
Déziel has denied asking Cloutier to launder the money. However, he admitted to acting as an intermediary for a campaign donation to the Parti de l’action civique amounting to more than $30,000 from an engineering firm.
The council has the power to recommend to parliament, via the federal justice minister, that a judge be removed from office if the council deems the judge’s misconduct is serious enough.
In its recommendation, in June last year, the CJC said Déziel knew his actions “contravened provisions of Quebec’s legislation regulating the funding of municipal political parties.”
However, the council found that Déziel’s action “did not undermine public confidence in his abilities to discharge the duties of his judicial office.”
A full version of the Canadian Judicial Council’s report in this matter can be found on its website.