The Honourable Sylvain Lussier’s Questionnaire


Under the new judicial application process introduced by the Minister of Justice on October 20, 2016, any interested and qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for federal judicial appointment by completing a questionnaire. The questionnaires are then used by the Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada to review candidates and submit a list of “highly recommended” and “recommended” candidates for consideration by the Minister of Justice. Candidates are advised that parts of their questionnaire may be made available to the public, with their consent, should they be appointed to the bench. The information is published as it was submitted by the candidates at the time they applied, subject to editing where necessary for privacy reasons.

Below are Parts 5, 6, 7 and 11 of the questionnaire completed by the Honourable Sylvain Lussier.

Questionnaire for Judicial Appointment


Part 5 – Language

Please note that in addition to the answers to the questions set out below, you may be assessed as to your level of language proficiency.

Without further training, are you able to read and understand court materials in:

  • English: Yes
  • French: Yes

Without further training, are you able to discuss legal matters with your colleagues in: 

  • English: Yes
  • French: Yes

Without further training, are you able to converse with counsel in court in:

  • English: Yes
  • French: Yes

Without further training, are you able to understand oral submission in court in:

  • English: Yes
  • French: Yes

Part 6 – Education

Name of Institutions, Years Attended, Degree/Diploma and Year Obtained:

High school and college:

  • 1967 - 1972 Collège Stanislas, Montréal

University education:

  • 1974 B.A. Political Science – University of Ottawa
  • 1977 LL.L – University of Ottawa
  • 1978 Master’s in Law – University of Ottawa
  • 1977 - 1978 École de formation professionnelle du Barreau du Québec, Ottawa

Continuing education:

  • 1993  Course on the new Civil Code
  • 1984  Meredith Memorial Lectures: Professional responsibility
  • 1985  Meredith Memorial Lectures: Bankruptcy
  • 1988  Recent trends in administrative law
  • 1989  Administrative tribunals under the charters
  • 1992  Université Laval: Quebec’s borders

Canadian Bar Association:

  • 1987  Your clients and the charter
  • 1995  La Loi sur la souveraineté du Québec: legal perspectives, Equality in the Workplace (Calgary)
  • 2009  15 years of the Civil Code of Quebec, Purchase and due diligence
  • 2012  Changes in the awarding of public construction contracts          
  • 1999  Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice: The role of the judiciary
  • 1985  Congrès du Barreau du Québec
  • 1997  Congrès du Barreau du Québec
  • 1994  Congrès de l’Association du Barreau canadien
  • 1997; 2000  Canadian Bar Association Conference
  • 2008  Canadian Bar Association Conference
  • 2001; 2007; 2008; 2012; 2013; 2014; 2016 American College of Trial Lawyers annual conference
  • 2001; 2005; 2012; 2013; 2015 American College of Trial Lawyers regional conferences
  • 2010  Annual conference and regional conference of the American College of Trial Lawyers

I also attended conferences or courses which I participated in as an instructor or guest speaker.

Honours and Awards:

  • 1974 Dean’s list.
  • 1977  Donat Pharand award, in international law of the sea.
  • 2012  Walter Owen award from CBA for the collective work Recours et procédure en appel, Lexis Nexis.
  • 2016  Order of Merit from the Civil Law Section, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa.

Part 7 – Professional and Employment History

Please include a chronology of work experience, starting with the most recent and showing employers’ names and dates of employment. For legal work, indicate areas of work or specialization with years and, if applicable, indicate if they have changed.

Legal Work Experience:

  • 1976 – 1977  Law editor for the Federal Court for the Canadian Law Information Council
  • 1976  Summer work in the legal department of the Canadian Transport Commission
  • 1978  Internship at Phillips & Vineberg
  • 1979  Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Civil Law Section
  • 1979 – 1983  Lawyer at Phillips & Vineberg
  • 1983 – 2006  Lawyer, then partner at Desjardins Ducharme
  • 2006  Partner at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt

Non-Legal Work Experience:

  • 1973 – 1975  Usher and security guard at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa
  • Summer 1974  Guide at the Royal Canadian Mint
  • Summer 1975  Researcher at the Economic Council of Canada

Other Professional Experience:

List all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees of which you are or have been a member, and give the titles and dates of any offices which you have held in such groups.

  • Member of the Canadian Bar Association since 1977
  • Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 2001
  • Advocatus Emeritus (Ad.E.) since 2007
  • Member of the executive of the Young Bar Association of Montréal from 1984 to 1987
  • Member of the executive of the Constitutional and Human Rights Section of the Canadian Bar Association since 1995; vice-president in 1997 and 1998; president from 1999 to 2001
  • Member of the Canadian Bar Association Council, Quebec Division in September 2000; Secretary from 2001 to 2003; head of the ad hoc committee on civil procedure reform
  • Member of the 2001 Conference Committee of the Canadian Bar Association, Quebec Section
  • Member of the Liaison Committee of the Bar of Montréal with the Court of Appeal from 1988 to 2000; Chair of the Committee from 1995 to 2000
  • Chair of the Bar of Montréal Committee on administration of civil justice, from June 2000 to June 2003
  • Member of the ad hoc committee of the Bar of Montréal on fees; in this capacity, recipient of the medal of merit from the Bar of Montréal
  • Former member of the Barreau du Québec standing committee on human rights
  • Former member of the Barreau du Québec committee on the Code of Civil Procedure reform
  • Former member of the Barreau du Québec advisory committee under section 52.2 of the Professional Code
  • Governor for life, Fondation du Barreau du Québec
  • Member of the committees for renewing the terms of commissioners of the Commission des lésions professionnelles, de la Régie du logement et de la Commission des relations du travail du Québec.
  • 2002 – 2016, member of the Province Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers
  • 2012 – 2014, chair of the Province Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers
  • 2003 – 2004, member of the Emil Gumpert Awards Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers
  • 2014, Member of the Attorney-Client Relationships Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Member of the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute since 2007
  • Special Advocate, appointed by the Minister of Justice Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Pro Bono Activities:

  • President of the Board of Directors of Collège Stanislas. Member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of Collège Stanislas. Member of the ad hoc committee on governance and the ethics committee.
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Goodness TV.
  • Judge in the Laskin competition, Winnipeg.
  • Regular guest for courses in argument techniques given at McGill University.
  • Participant and regular guest in public affairs programs on Radio-Canada, RDI, LCN, TVA and 98.5 FM.
  • Co-chair of a fundraising campaign for the Fondation Héma-Québec and responsible for the Oxfam fundraising campaign with lawyers in 1997. Responsible in 1997 for the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde’s major campaign with lawyers.
  • Former member of the Board of Directors of the Institut Philippe Pinel de Montréal Foundation.
  • Former member of the Board of Directors of Baluchon Alzheimer.
  • Former member of the Board of Directors of Arion Baroque Orchestra.
  • Master of ceremonies for the Fondation du Barreau du Québec, Congrès du Barreau du Québec, Fondation Héma-Québec, Fondation Intégration Jeunesse, 50th anniversary of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. Participation in the shows and evening for the 150th anniversary of the Barreau du Québec. Master of ceremonies for the Bâtonnier de Montréal evening in 2001 and the lunch put on by the Human Rights Tribunal for the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
  • Participation in the fundraising shows for the Théâtre d’aujourd’hui in 1996 and 1997, 2013, 2014 and 2015, and for Lawyers without Borders, 2014 and 2016.
  • Honorary co-chair of the fundraising campaign for the Festival TransAmériques (FTA), 2013. Member of the honorary committee, 2014 and 2016.
  • Member of the fundraising committee for Les Impatients, an organization that helps people with mental health issues through artistic expression, from 2013 to 2016.

Teaching and Continuing Education:

List all legal or judicial educational organizations and activities you have been involved with (e.g. teaching course at a law faculty, bar association, National Judicial Institute, or the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice).


  • 1979  Administrative Law, University of Ottawa and Barreau du Québec in Hull
  • 1981 – 1985  Administrative Law, Barreau du Québec in Montréal
  • 1983 – 1985  Administrative Law, Faculty of Continuing Education, Université de Montréal
  • 1992 – 1999  Course lecturer, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal: moot court tutor
  • 1999 – 2003  Evidence and arguments, Barreau du Québec in Montréal
  • 2007; 2010  Accountability, Barreau du Québec in Montréal
  • 2010  Holding public hearings, Secrétariat aux emplois supérieurs, Québec
  • 2011; 2013; 2014  Civil liability, Barreau du Québec in Montréal


Barreau du Québec (continuing education):

  • 1990 and 1993  Contempt of court
  • 1994  Mandatory injunction in civil law, Amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure: reform of provisions related to appeals : courses given in Hull, Bromont, Saint-Hyacinthe, Saint-Jérôme and Laval
  • 1996  Evidence before the administrative tribunal in Quebec
  • 1997  Exemplary damages and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms
  • 1998  Institutional custody orders
  • 1999  Recent trends in injunction
  • 2000  Recent trends in Aboriginal law
  • 2001  Recent trends in civil law: extrajudicial fees for damages
  • 2002  Annual conference: attorney ethics
  • 2004  Recent trends in protection of incapacitated persons law: the Gharavy decision in light of the Starson decision
  • 2007  Annual conference: litigation privilege
  • 2009  The lawyer’s professional secrecy: what every lawyer should know according to the Supreme Court of the Canada
  • 2010  Annual conference: Inquiry commissions, Strasbourg, Conférences strasbourgeoises
  • 2000  Civil liability of wealth management accountants

Canadian Bar Association:

  • 1994  Annual conference – “Réflexion sur Partners in Confederation et le droit inhérent à l’autonomie gouvernementale
  • 1997  Co-chair and conference organizer – “Le droit et la démocratie et l’autodétermination,” presented at the University of Ottawa
  • 2000  Annual conference – Organizer and facilitator of a joint workshop on constitutional and indigenous law: “Marshall, the Aftermath”
  • 2011  National Administrative Law and Labour & Employment Law Conference: “Privilege: Do You Want to Know a Secret? – the journalist’s professional secret”
  • 2013  Online session: “L’évaluation d’un cas en vue d’interjeter appel”

Canadian Bar Association – Quebec Section:

  • 1991  Contempt of court
  • 1997  Recent trends in injunction with the Honourable Louis Crête and the Honourable Danielle Grenier
  • 2000  Constitutional Law Section – “L’affaire Marshall” presented with Michel Venne from Le Devoir newspaper and Me Robert Mainville
  • 2002  Conference: Attorney ethics
  • 2007  Litigation privilege
  • 2009  Inquiry commissions and the media
  • 2014  Professional secrecy in Quebec: fading away?
  • 2015  Class action in the new Code of Procedure

Bar of Montréal:

  • 2000  Training seminar on practice before the Court of Appeal
  • 2014  Professional secrecy in France and Quebec – Is it different?

Barreau du Saguenay (Chicoutimi):

  • 2002  Conference: Attorney ethics

Barreau d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue:

  • 2000  Recent trends in mandatory injunction

Canadian Institute:

  • 1993  Toronto: The impact of the New Quebec Civil Code of Financial Institutions: “The Law of Evidence”
  • 1994  Hospital liability and refusal of treatment
  • 2003  Recent trends in administrative law in Quebec (Ottawa and Montréal)
  • 2006  Recent trends in administrative law: “Quoi de neuf à propos des commissions d’enquête?
  • 2006  Environmental law and management: “Consultation et droits autochtones
  • 2007  Disputes against governments: “Les organes centraux : le cœur du pouvoir
  • 2008  Negotiation with Indigenous communities
  • 2009  Co-chair, Indigenous consultation and partnership in project development
  • 2010  Guest speaker, Training camp for litigation lawyers: “Les litiges complexes
  • 2011  Guest speaker: “Training on administrative law”
  • 2013  Advanced training on administrative law – “L’équité procédurale dans un domaine en constante evolution

Insight conferences:

  • 2002  The civil and extracontractual liability of administrators – “Quand le voile corporatif se déchire
  • 2006  Co-chair, Indigenous forum on the management of natural resources and the land. Moderator of the workshop on the duty to consult with respect to hunting and fishing. Guest speaker: “Les conséquences de l’arrêt Bernard et Marshall
  • 2007  Co-chair, Indigenous forum on the management of natural resources and the land. Guest speaker: “Le financement sur les reserves
  • 2009  Co-chair, Indigenous forum on the management of natural resources and the land. Guest speaker: “Développements jurisprudentiels récents en matière de titre autochtone, d’obligation de consulter et d’obligation fiduciales

Yvon Blais conferences:

  • 1995  Recent trends in injunction
  • When the law concerns the person: “Les autorisations judiciaires de soins”
  • 2015  Éditions Yvon Blais : Symposium - Le Grand collectif : « Injonctions et saisies avant jugement »
  • 2016  Internet and defamation

American College of Trial Lawyers:

  • 2001  Université de Sherbrooke: Presentation of the ACTL Code of Ethics
  • 2002  Université de Moncton: Presentation of the ACTL Code of Ethics
  • 2016  Young Bar Association of Montréal: Presentation of the ACTL Code of Ethics

International Academy of Law and Mental Health:

  • 1997  22nd conference of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (chair of the workshop on the workplace and mental health)
  • 2005  Charters and medical professionalism; moderator of the constitutional law workshop
  • 2006  End-of-life applications: ethical and legal perspectives: moderator and commentator

Other conferences:

  • 1991  Société des médecins-experts du Québec : « Le témoignage du médecin-expert »
  • 1993  Association des hôpitaux du Québec: The civil code, it’s important to us: “Le refus catégorique
    • Canadian Council of Administrative Tribunals : “Contempt of Court”
    • Judicial authorizations of treatment at the Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montréal, the Institut de réadaptation de Montréal and Douglas hospital
  • 1994  Conference of administrative judges in Quebec: “L’outrage au tribunal ” Friends of mental health, western suburbs: “Les autorisations de traitement”
  • 1997  3rd annual conference of the Centre de recherche Philippe-Pinel de Montréal: Mental illness and interventions: “Notions de dangerosité et d’urgence dans l’encadrement juridique de la maladie mentale
    • Symposium on water management in Quebec: “La gestion des rivières par bassin versant
  • 1999  Quebec Pipeline Association and the Association des conseillers en environnement du Québec : “Projets énergétiques transfrontaliers : Suggestions pour l’optimisation des processus d’évaluation à la lumière des expériences passes
  • 2000  Association forestière de l’Abitibi: conference on Aboriginal law and consultation
  • 2001  Toronto, The Advocates’ Society: “Simplifying Complex Litigation”
    • Montréal, Desjardins Ducharme Stein Monast, “Contrats commerciaux en droit québécois” conference presented as part of the mission of the judges of the Shanghai High People’s Court and the judges of the Cour municipale de Montréal .
    • Lord Reading Society: “The Lost Art of Cross-Examination”
    • Ottawa, Optimizing Donor Selection Process, organized by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec: “A Legal Perspective”
  • 2002  Superior Court judges: “Les honoraires extrajudiciaires à titre de dommages
  • 2004  Young Bar Association of Montréal: Attorney ethics
  • 2006  Superior Court judges: “Les clauses de non-concurrence
  • 2008  Osgoode Hall Law School York University: “Partialité et Commissions d’enquête
  • 2009  Young Bar Association of Montréal: Participation in a round table on the Code of Civil Procedure with the Honourable Guy Gagnon and the Honourable François Rolland
  • 2012  Montréal, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, “Les litiges d’actionnaires en vertu de la Loi sur les sociétés par actions (Québec)
    • Faculty of Law, McGill University: “Equality of All Under the Law”
    • Montréal, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, “La gestion du risque relié aux régimes de retraite
    • Continuum: “Développements récents en matière de litige entre actionnaires
  • 2013  Toronto, Advocates’ Society: Corruption Uncovered: “A Discussion on the Charbonneau Commission”
    • Young Bar Association of Montréal: “L’avocat du XXIe siècle : de nouvelles valeurs pour un nouveau siècle or ‘Back to the Future?’”
    • Montréal, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt: “Le secret professionnel de l’avocat : ce que tout avocat doit savoir selon la Cour suprême du Canada
    • Canadian College of Construction Lawyers: “The Charbonneau Commission: Uncovering the Depth of Corruption in the Construction Industry in Quebec”
  • 2014  Canadian National Railway Company: “Questions autochtones et consultation
    • Toronto, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, “Recent Trends in Aboriginal Law and Consultation”
    • D’Amico Family Wealth Management Group / RBC Dominion Securities Inc.: “A Review of the Recent Case Law Dealing With Accountants’ Professional Liability and Bank Liability”
    • Philippe Kirsch Institute: “Recours collectifs impliquant des membres hors Québec : potentiel, motifs et difficultés
    • Association québécoise des lobbyistes : « Lobbyisme et commissions d'enquête »
  • 2015  Ontario Bar Association; Quebec-Ontario Business Law Summit: Multi-Jurisdictional Transactions, Program Chair
    • Montréal, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt: “Transparence et intégrité. Combattre la collusion et la corruption.
  • 2016  ACC Québec: “Éviter la Cour…avec votre avocat” conference on private modes of prevention and dispute resolution
  • 2017  Attorney invited to the administrative law seminar of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice and the National Judicial Institute
    • Training on argument techniques, UQAM

Community and Civic Activities:

List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.


  • Chair of the Board of Directors of Collège Stanislas. Member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of Collège Stanislas. Member of the ad hoc committee on governance and the ethics committee.
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Goodness TV. GoodnessTV is an interactive platform of dissemination and unique production that focuses on actions of positive change. A Quebec, Canadian and global showcase dedicated to positive content focused on solutions and the social engagement of people, organizations and societies working in all areas of human activity.
  • Former member of the Board of Directors of the Fondation de l’Institut Philippe Pinel de Montréal.
  • Former member of the Board of Directors of Baluchon Alzheimer.
  • Former member of the Board of Directors of Arion Baroque Orchestra.

Part 11 – The Role of the Judiciary in Canada’s Legal System

The Government of Canada seeks to appoint judges with a deep understanding of the judicial role in Canada. In order to provide a more complete basis for evaluation, candidates are asked to offer their insight into broader issues concerning the judiciary and Canada’s legal system. For each of the following questions, please provide answers of between 750 and 1000 words.

1. What would you regard as your most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada?

I hesitated between talking about the Institut Philippe-Pinel v. A. G., [1994] RJQ 2523 decision, which I believe defined the applicable law in a matter closely linked to individual rights, and my involvement in the Gomery Commission.

Since I talk elsewhere about the A.G. decision, I will focus on my participation in the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities (that is, the Gomery Commission).

As counsel for the Government of Canada, I was first and foremost in charge of a team. So, it was a group effort. Without this team, the colossal amount of work achieved would not have been possible.

We were the interface between all of the departments and the Commission in its collection of an extremely voluminous amount of information. We had the task of explaining to Canadians the workings of the federal government – an entity comprising several hundreds of thousands of people – and more specifically, its primary machinery: the Privy Council Office (PCO), the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Treasury Board. Finally, the awarding of government contracts – and those in advertising in particular – by the Department of Public Works and Government Services had to be explained. The didactic material produced was of excellent quality.

We represented over 70 witnesses, from the Prime Minister of Canada, ministers in office and former ministers, senior civil servants, including clerks of the Privy Council, civil servants and political staff.

We assisted these witnesses in their meetings with the Commission’s counsel and were by their sides when they testified.

Finally, we were the voice of the government in the debates and in the final arguments before the Gomery Commission. We had to reconcile transparency and protecting cabinet secrets. In this respect, we had to do a lot of persuasion with the PCO to gain access to otherwise inaccessible documents.

The firm I represented had to be kept at arm’s length from those whose actions were scrutinized. Many ministers belonged to both governments.

The Government of Canada had to be protected, without in any way excusing behaviour that Canadians and the courts deemed unacceptable in the wake of the Gomery Commission.

I then inherited the case for the civil lawsuit that aimed to recover the public funds that were misappropriated as part of the program.

I believe that my interventions, specifically in the cross-examination of many witnesses, helped shed a clearer light on the role of many actors in this important moment of our recent history.

I also believe that the right messages were able to be conveyed in my role as government spokesperson to the press.

I think I was an important cog in the wheel of this useful and significant exercise of Canadian public law.

I believe that the notoriety and credibility that I acquired at this time made it so that I could speak with authority in several areas of public law, and especially with respect to inquiry commissions. Therefore, I am regularly invited to comment on current affairs from this perspective.

2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?

As a young child, I lived in Paris. I came back to Canada at nine years old and my parents settled in Ottawa. I had to learn English and I learned how to grow within a bilingual community. I completed my college studies in Montréal and my university studies in Ottawa, and then I came back to practice in Montréal, in a primarily anglophone Jewish firm, which gave me the opportunity to learn about this community, to which I was a stranger.

I now practise in a national firm where all origins, races, languages and tendencies are represented. I feel very comfortable there. My firm, Osler, was named one of the best employers for diversity in Canada (2016).

As a member of the legal professionals committee for many years, I personally supported all the initiatives that led to earning this distinction.

My practice in Indigenous law also raised my awareness about the customs and traditions of the First Nations. I am familiar with their claims and their aspirations. I was able to develop a field of expertise that resulted in my knowing how to deal with the related constitutional law, the history involving the territories, the existing treaties and the agreements concluded with them. This helped me understand the related principles and the obligations incumbent upon the parties involved, whether they are the First Nations themselves, the various governments or the parties from the private sector.

My practice in mental health law opened my eyes to a complex world that has a great need for understanding. On a personal level, I have had to support loved ones suffering from mental health issues.

Still on a personal level, I am the executor of the estate of one of my best friends, who is gay.

I have played hockey in a garage league for 20 years. The players come from all walks of life: blue collar, professionals, computer scientists, former professional athletes, artists and others. I feel at ease and appreciated in this diversity despite my limitations as a player!

My in-laws are Romanian, my parents-in-law fled Ceauşescu’s communist regime in the 1970s. My sister-in-law is from Chile – her parents fled Pinochet’s fascist regime around the same time.

I travel a lot and am very interested in the diversity of people, their languages and their customs.

I am interested in international politics. This helps me appreciate the qualities of our democratic system and our judiciary system. This also helps me see the shortcomings of these systems and how to improve them.

3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.

The judge of a superior court in Canada rules on disputes involving citizens. In the majority of cases, this may involve only an application of accepted and identified legislation to the facts. However, our judicial system’s British origins confer on these judges a power that judges in continental Europe, for example, do not have: that of judging the legality of government action or the conformity and constitutionality of laws and regulations. We do not have a State Council or Constitutional Court. Every Superior Court judge performs these functions. Therefore, it is the first echelon of legality control. This mission is of prime importance. Beyond the fact that the judgment may be final, its findings will be the basis on which the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court will rule. Therefore, it is a fundamental task, a great requirement.

It is up to the judge to ensure that no one, not even a prime minister or a lieutenant-governor, is above the law: Roncarelli v. Duplessis, [1959] SCR 121; Thibault c. R., 2016 QCCA 335.

This role is played in several ways: responsibility of the administration; judicial review of government decisions; authorizations for seizures, searches or wiretapping; challenge of elections; disqualification to practice, declaration of unconstitutionality of a law or invalidity of a regulation, to name just a few of the more common.

That said, the judge protects our rights and freedoms by ensuring that they are respected by those who transgress them.

Often called to preside over commissions of inquiry, the judge can play a key role in the discovery of systemic issues concerning the society. This must be done without causing a spectacle. And another judge will be able to review the legality of his procedure: Canada (Attorney General) v. Chrétien, 2010 FCA 283.

Of course, the judge can only apply the law. The judge must not take it upon him or herself to enact the measures that seem desirable to him or her, unless these are within the sphere of their judicial discretion. That is the role of the legislator. The judge must apply the law, no matter what his or her opinion is of it. But the judge has the power to declare it counter to our constitution or our charters if he or she believes that the law infringes upon them. Since such a decision has serious consequences for the government and citizens, the judge must ensure that the prerequisite formalities to a declaration of unconstitutionality or inoperability have been respected and that the Attorney General has been forewarned. It is not for the court to make such a declaration proprio motu.

Moreover, the constitution remains a living law text that must be interpreted to meet the expectations of our time, safeguarding of course against the whims of the majority or a vocal minority. At the end of the day, a dialogue must be established between the lawmaker and the courts.

The judge must ensure, however systematically, the respect of rights and freedoms. Whether in a civil or criminal trial, the judge must ensure that the right to a full and complete, fair and impartial hearing is maintained.

The judge must ensure respect of the right to protection against self-incrimination and the right to remain silent. I believe these two rights are the pillars of the presumption of innocence, which is so important to our concept of the law. The judge must ensure respect of the right of professional secrecy . Therefore, the advent of the charters made judges work even more demanding.

The right to freedom is not a meaningless principle. This right is challenged in many areas: child custody; institutional custody or accommodation; consent to care; penal law. Habeas corpus remains, despite its venerable age, the guarantor of our freedoms.

My international experiences and my observation of current events confirm my conviction that our courts are the ultimate guardians of our rights and freedoms, and that this conviction is not an empty illusion. Whatever the critiques with respect to the result of a dispute or the quality of the judgment, it is obvious that the jurisdiction of our judiciary and its independence are the subject of consensus in Canada and inspire admiration from other countries.

My reflection on the supremacy of the law strengthens my conviction that our courts are constantly inhabited by this awareness of their role.

Our judges are the citizen’s protection against the potential arbitrariness of the executive and even legislative power.

4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?

The role of a judge includes many requirements and has developed over time to try to make justice accessible to the citizens so that their differences can be resolved or ruled on swiftly and as inexpensively as possible.

Court decisions always apply first to the citizens who are before the court. They are not intended for the media or politicians. They are not made to please some majority. They must settle the dispute of which the court is seized, without complacency or preference. They are not made to please the best lawyer who pleaded the case. They are made based on the judge’s conscience, regardless of the criticisms that a judgement may raise. They are preferably made in the language of the losing party.

During a trial, it is essential for a judge to be able to address everyone participating so that they feel that they have the judge’s attention, they understand the judge’s interventions, as well as what is happening, and for the judge to able to pronounce his decision in an appropriate language to make justice accessible, human and understandable.

The media often call on me to explain judiciary issues, as they think I am good at putting things in simple terms. I believe this skill is a notable asset.

A decision must be reasoned, so that the person receiving it can understand it, but also so a court of appeal is satisfied that the factual issues have been analyzed and weighed, that the credibility of witnesses has been carefully considered and the factual inferences are justified.

Moreover, the fact that decisions can serve as precedents must not be overlooked. Therefore, they must expose the applicable law and articulate that this has been interpreted correctly.

In short, the judicial decision involves a wise balance between a statement that is clear and understandable to the citizen who is not a legal expert and a reasoning that satisfies the requirements of the discipline of law.

5. Please describe the personal qualities, professional skills and abilities, and life experience that you believe will equip you for the role of a judge.

Born into a family that worked in a public service setting, I always had the goal of being able to do a job that placed me at people’s service. Given my professional experience and the values passed down to me, I believe that as a judge I would be most able to fulfill this role because being a judge is, above all, being at the service of the citizens.

It has always been important to me to envision all possible solutions to a dispute. I seek effective and efficient justice. In this sense, I prefer conciliation and alternative justice methods of conflict resolution in the cases I deal with. With experience in negotiation and mediation, I am able to manage settlement conferences and preparatory conferences, and to guide the judiciary process through smart case management. Since I have often had to deal with complex cases, I readily understand the particular methods of case management.

Despite the evolution of a judge’s duties, the judge’s primary job continues to be that of a decision maker.

Since I have acted as an arbitrator or a member of disciplinary committees on many occasions, I assumed decision-making roles and valued these experiences. I believe that I acquired the skills required to properly gauge the issues at dispute. I give my clients opinions without complacency, consistent with my understanding of the facts and the rule of law. Moreover, I have acquired the confidence necessary to evaluate the credibility of witnesses, assess the testimonial and documentary evidence, and diligently make, render and take ownership of a decision.

As a lawyer and thus an officer of justice, I tenaciously defend the interests of my clients, without ever losing sight of the importance of being fair and courteous toward all parties and respectful of the Court, my colleagues and witnesses. I believe it is essential that citizens who must go before the court feel that they have the respect of the judge. The talks I have given and the articles I have written on professional ethics show how seriously I take this. A judge must also know how to inspire the decorum necessary for the respect of the Court and of our judicial system. A judge must have patience, but must also know how to manage hearings effectively to avoid unproductive debates – without, however, offending the parties. My years of experience as a litigation attorney, as well as my arbitration duties, helped me gain a solid understanding of the rules of evidence administration, and instilled in me the notions necessary to find a proper balance, so that sessions run in a cordial manner, with respect for the parties and their interests.

I am perfectly bilingual, practising in both languages, with clients, witnesses and the Court. In order to sit in the large district of Montréal, this knowledge is indispensable.

During interviews or media participation, I always show reserve and moderation.

I am always concerned about explaining the matters dealt with in a neutral way. I believe that a judge must, during hearings and when rendering decisions, have the same concern for reserve and moderation, and demonstrate impartiality. I am calm and poised. I teach students that a litigation attorney’s greatest quality is the ability to listen, and I make it my duty to apply what I teach. I believe that a judge must have this same faculty, so that citizens, regardless of the outcome of the dispute, leave the courtroom feeling that they were listened to and heard. 

Law has always been a passion for me. Although it is easy for me to always call on a researcher or another lawyer, I continue to do my own research in the cases that allow me to do so. I follow the evolution of law with interest. My involvement in teaching, as a guest speaker and through the articles I have written, confirm this passion and the attention I give it.

A judge must remain constantly up to date on legislative matters and case law. Since the judge hears disputes from all fields of law, the judge must have a great capacity to learn, to apply new legal rules and follow the evolution of the law. I keep myself up to date, out of interest for the law, and also as part of the mandatory training program of the Barreau. This aspect of the job would be a pleasure for me.

I think I have acquired the confidence of the judges and adjudicators before whom I have pleaded. They sometimes grant me the privilege of representing them. In this respect, I have acted as an inquiry committee lawyer for the Conseil de la magistrature du Québec.

This, combined with the honorary mentions that have kindly been bestowed upon me, lead me to believe that I have acquired the respect of the legal community.

My participation in public affairs at the request of the media leads me to believe that people appreciate my analyses and it has given me some notoriety with the public.

I am aware that the judiciary is a demanding job. I work hard and am not afraid of working long hours. Although I was in private practice, I always continued to teach, publish, learn and get involved. This meant that I learned the discipline of daily work and the effort required.

I had the privilege of being involved with a wide range of fields of law. That was my goal as a young lawyer, and being able to achieve this gave me great satisfaction. In addition to the aforementioned areas, I have represented psychiatric hospitals for a long time and when the Civil Code of Quebec took effect, I developed the case law on the criteria for court intervention in forced medical treatment of incapacitated adults. Despite the fact that my practice took me toward other areas of law, I always continued to take an interest in everything that involves the rights of people, and I care about understanding these human dramas.  

I believe that it is desirable for a lawyer who ascends to the judiciary to have the recognition of his peers. I believe that my colleagues appreciate my attitude and my legal knowledge. In fact, many times my opponents have paid me the compliment of calling on my services to defend them personally or professionally, before the discipline board or superior courts, to help them or to entrust me with their conflicts of interest.

6. Given the goal of ensuring that Canadians are able to look at the justices appointed to the bench and see their faces and life experience reflected there, you may, if you choose, provide information about yourself that you feel would assist in this objective.

I am aware that being a judge is a demanding job and also a privilege because the parties, especially in family court disputes and in cases involving young people, entrust the judge with part of their lives and their future. Having raised four children, I am aware of the daily concerns of parents, of their obligations and responsibilities, and of the privileges they have. This has helped me truly understand and identify the emotional and material needs of a child and to know what it means to act in the child’s best interests. My life experience, my sensitivity to the rights of people, my interest in the humanities and my ease in adapting to various fields of law gives me confidence with respect to such areas of Court activity.

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