Canadian Judicial Council completes its review of a complaint against the Honourable Victor Toews

Ottawa, 30 November 2017– The Canadian Judicial Council has completed its review of the conduct of Justice Toews following a complaint received in relation to a report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. After completing a full review of the concerns raised, the Council has determined that the issues do not warrant any further intervention, for reasons laid out in the letter dismissing the matter.

The allegations of conflict of interest and breach of the post-employment rules for public office holders, which formed the basis of the Ethics Commissioner’s Report, took place prior to Justice Toews’ appointment to the Bench. In her Report, the Ethics Commissioner found that Justice Toews (before he became a judge) provided services under a contract to the Norway House Cree Nation. She held that Justice Toews, when he was a Minister, had direct and significant dealings with them during his last year in office. She also found that, as a consultant, he had acted on behalf of the Peguis First Nation, a party that was seeking relief against a decision in which he have been involved as a Minister of the Crown.

After the Ethics Commissioner’s report was made public, two complaints were made to Council, alleging that the judge demonstrated a lack of integrity and suggesting he should be removed from office.

In accordance with Council’s Review Procedures, the matter was reviewed by the Honourable Christopher Hinkson, Vice-Chair of the Judicial Conduct Committee and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Chief Justice Hinkson requested comments from Justice Toews as well as his Chief Justice. He reviewed all the available information, including the Ethics Commissioner’s report.

Without expressing any views about the conclusions reached by the Commissioner, Chief Justice Hinkson notes that whether a contravention of the Conflict of Interest Act took place is subject to a degree of interpretation. The issue before Council is not whether the findings of the Commissioner are in doubt, but whether the judge is able to continue to discharge the duties of his office in a manner that sustains public confidence.

Chief Justice Hinkson notes that the Commissioner did not make any findings that put into question the integrity, good faith or credibility of Justice Toews. Upon a full review of all the relevant information, Chief Justice Hinkson found an absence of any information that would suggest an attempt to mislead or reveal conduct incompatible with the duties of judicial office.

Further, it was determined that Justice Toews took some precautions prior to entering into the contract in question, including making enquiries with the Commissioner’s office and discussing restrictions and limitations imposed on his involvement.

In the absence of any bad faith or attempt to mislead, Chief Justice Hinkson finds that Justice Toews’ actions would not lead an informed person, considering all the circumstances, to conclude that he does not have the ability and public confidence required to discharge his duties as a judge. Accordingly, Chief Justice Hinkson has determined that no further action is required by the Canadian Judicial Council pursuant to its mandate under the Judges Act.

Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
(613) 288-1566 ext 313