The Honourable Nathalie Pelletier’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 Nathalie Pelletier.
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: No
- 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:
- Polyvalente La Forêt, Secondary V (1988)
- Cégep de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Humanities (1991)
- Université Laval, Bachelor of Political Science (1995)
- Université Laval, Certificate in College Teaching (1996)
- Université Laval, Bachelor of Law (2001)
- Barreau du Québec (2003)
- 2017-04-17 - Sharing pension plans when a marriage breaks down
- 2017-04-17 - Bodily injury, Assessing damages
- 2017-02-08 - AQAAD Conference 2017 - 11th Edition “Ça serait criminel de le manquer!”
- 2016-09-09 - New rules of practice and directives from the Superior Court
- 2016-09-09 - Introduction to the videoconferencing tools introduced by the Department of Justice
- 2016-09-08 - Penal justice for adolescents
- 2016-09-08 - Code of Civil Procedure reform: case law status on July 31, 2016
- 2016-04-29 - Professional responsibility in criminal and family law
- 2016-04-28 - Key rules of evidence in interrogation in criminal matters
- 2016-04-28 - Propensity evidence
- 2016-03-28 - Revamp of the lawyer’s code of ethics (compulsory training)
- 2016-02-10 - AQAAD 2016 Conference - 10th edition “Ça serait criminel de le manquer!”
- 2016-01-21 - How lawyers must prepare their staff for the new CCP
- 2015-09-11 - New Code of Civil Procedure (application)
- 2015-03-31 - Accounting and practice standards - meeting professional obligations - (Formerly: Accounting and the professional practice standards of lawyers: obligations and best practices)
- 2014-10-24 - The incapacitated person at the centre of the dispute: the lawyer’s mission
- 2014-10-23 - Understanding and practising participatory justice (formerly: All about participatory justice)
- 2014-09-12 - Case management (new CCP)
- 2013-10-24 - Intensive JuriBristro: for quick and effective legal research
- 2013-10-24 - Highlights of the reform introduced by Bill 28 An Act to establish the new Code of Civil Procedure
- 2013-09-13 - Pleading successfully in the Court of Appeal: good preparation starts from the trial but only ends on the day of the hearing
- 2013-09-12 - Maîtres in Business!
- 2013-09-12 - Matrimonial taxation the year of separation and on transfers of assets
- 2013-04-26 - Psychology and managing difficult personalities
- 2013-04-25 - Recent case law in youth protection
- 2013-04-25 - Extra-judicial confessions: status update?
- 2013-02-06 - AQAAD 2013 Conference – 7th Edition – “Ça serait criminel de le manquer!”
- 2012-09-06 - Hearing of the child and sexual abuse
- 2012-09-06 - Child support for adult and minor children at work
- 2012-09-07 - Methods of defense part 2
- 2012-04-27 - Preparing witnesses
- 2012-04-26 - Bankruptcy, civil law and supplemental taxation
- 2012-04-26 - Follow-up to the Criminal Code C-2 amendments (drunk driving)
- 2012-02-02 - AQAAD 2012 Conference - 6th Edition - “Ça serait criminel de le manquer!”
- 2011-10-28 - Contemporary issues in identifying and quantifying bodily harm
- 2011-10-27 - Sex crimes: evidence, procedure and strategies – Course 2
- 2011-04-29 - Protected Maîtres (Formerly: Best practices for a worry-free practice)
- 2011-04-28 - The ABCs of proceeds of crime and offence-related property
- 2011-04-28 - Gun control
- 2011-02-02 - AQAAD 2011 Conference - 5th Edition - “Ça serait criminel de le manquer! ”
- 2010-05-28 - Evidence rules in criminal law: an indispensable tool for litigation attorneys
- 2010-04-30 - Practical aspects of the code of ethics
- 2010-04-29 - Common-law spouses – Condensed
- 2010-04-29 - New law in police investigation and exclusion of evidence: Grant, Suberu, Harrison and Shepherd decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada
- 2010-02-03 - AQAAD 2010 Conference - 4th Edition - “Ça serait criminel de le manquer”
- 2009-11-27 - The appeal in criminal and penal matters
- 2009-11-27 - Abusive search and seizure
- 2009-09-04 - Examination, cross-examination and arguments, one method
- 2009-09-03 - Custody orders and access arrangements
Honours and Awards:
2015: Award for best adversary awarded by the Barreau de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue. This award is given to the lawyer who distinguishes herself by her integrity, who always seeks the best solution to settle the dispute, who always has the best interests of her clients at heart. One of the criteria is also to predict all the legal issues that may result in a dispute and be ready to plead them. This award is given out following a confidential vote of the Section’s colleagues and a consensus must be reached within the committee.
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:
2015 to present:
- Sole shareholder of the study Pelletier, Martineau, Avocats inc.
- Civil (insurance, civil liability, medical, hidden defects, securities)
- Family, youth, municipal
- Criminal, penal
2008 to 2015:
- Martineau, Daoust, Boulianne, Pelletier s.e.n.c.
- Lawyer Partner
- Family, general civil, penal, criminal, youth, municipal
2002 to 2008:
- Geoffroy, Matte, Kelada s.e.n.c.
- Criminal, family, transportation, penal, youth, general civil, labour
Non-Legal Work Experience:
1986 to 2002 - Déménagement Labrecque Inc., NorthAmerican VanLines
- Employee training
- Truck and crew dispatcher
- Management of heavy vehicle files
- Management of customer claims (after-sales service)
- Customer service
- Management of moving files nationally and internationally in America and overseas
Other Professional Experience:Legal Work 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.
- Since April 2017 - Bâtonnière de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue /Nord-du-Québec
- April 2016 to April 2017 - First Councillor, Section Council of the Barreau de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue / Nord-du-Québec
- April 2010 to April 2016 - Councillor, Section Council of the Barreau de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue / Nord-du-Québec
- April 2008 to April 2010 - Representative of the Young Bar of the Section Council of the Barreau de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue / Nord-du-Québec
- April 2007 to April 2008 - Councillor, Section Council of the Barreau de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue / Nord-du-Québec
- 2007 to date - Member of AQAAD
- 2003 to date - Member of AAP
Pro Bono Activities:
- Legal counsel for H20 le Festival since 2015
- Legal clinic at the Maison des jeunes at the regional level (2007 and 2013)
- Free advice to the general public, in the office and/or over the phone. In fact, I practise in a small region and every day people call or come into the office for advice. I do not bill for legal advice unless I have to open a file and initiate legal proceedings.
Community and Civic Activities:
List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.
Club Lions Femmes d'Amos inc.
- 2004 to present: Founding member
- 2006-2007: Club president
- 2007-2009: Area president
CRCATNQ (Centre résidentiel communautaire de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue / Nord-du-Québec)
SATAS (Service d'aide et de traitement en apprentissage social)
- 2007 to present: Board member
- 2015: Secretary-Treasurer
- 2010-2012: Vice-president of the Board of Directors
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 think that my greatest contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada is preparing the next generation by training future lawyers. In fact, since I started my practice with a good deal of work experience already, it meant that from the start of my practice within the office, I had to supervise the management and organization of the work of the articling clerks and summer students. When I had five (5) years of practice, I was entrusted with the supervision and training of articling clerks and young lawyers within the firm.
This requires a large investment of time, but I enjoy teaching. Learning the concepts of law during the four years at university remains very abstract in comparison to the daily practice of law. It is important for articling clerks to be able to make the connection between the abstract and the concrete. To this end, from their first day of training, they accompany me when I meet with clients. They are called to put together the cases from the start to finish. From the early weeks onward, they will go to court to make arguments or participate in the various modes of alternative settlement, all to ensure that before the end of their training, they can master the legal tools to settle a dispute before a trial or be prepared to go to trial.
The ultimate goal of this method is to provide the justice system with competent professionals who know their fields of practice and who can tell their clients from their initial meetings with them whether or not they have a right to defend. The requirement that I have, with respect to the practice of articled clerks or young lawyers, is to always tell clients exactly where they stand, even if the client does not like our opinion and we lose a potential file because of it. Frankness always pays off. The bond of trust that is established between the client and the lawyer can be transposed to the justice system.
Concretely, this also helps the citizen have greater access to justice, because this method helps open the dialogue on other methods of dispute settlement. In civil or family matters, this may include mediation, negotiation or even a settlement conference. In criminal matters, everything is less expensive for the litigant in an alternative dispute resolution.
My approachability and natural propensity for teaching helped me understand their progress in their fields of competency and in their professional and personal skills. Therefore, I was able to provide them with the necessary coaching for them to meet their objectives, both at the professional and personal level.
I have trained lawyers who have a good reputation and are known within the legal and judicial community as being effective, honest, who know their cases well, who are ready to proceed when present in Court and who are hardworking. This method contributes to the retention rate because my articling clerks who have become lawyers within my team stay and still work in the region. They also participate voluntarily in the development of their community by getting involved in various social and professional organizations.
In conclusion, my contribution is to promote this wonderful career of being a lawyer and thus improve the offering of legal services in a region where the exodus of youth is acutely felt at all levels, but also to train lawyers who, through their integrity, skills, professionalism and honesty, project a positive image of the justice system.
2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?
My professional experience has helped me truly grasp the variety and diversity of Canadians from their unique perspectives because over my career, I have represented people from all walks of life in civil, family, youth and criminal matters.
I began my career primarily representing legal aid clients. In this respect, I was called to represent society’s most disadvantaged, financially, socially and psychologically. I was called to handle many cases of youth protection, family law and criminal law. It often happened that one of my clients had cases in the three courts at the same time. This gave me a global vision not just of the problems of white and Indigenous people in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, but also those in Northern Quebec among the Cree and the Inuit.
Since every community has its own problems, I worked with individuals with mental health disorders, drug and/or alcohol addictions or even emotional dependency.
I also represented people with low income in separation or child custody cases who, due to cognitive limitations, had a great deal of difficulty organizing and structuring themselves in terms of child custody. Working with the most disadvantaged people provides insight into the problems that level of education, financial woes or psychological issues can cause the individual and also the family. This meant that on more than one occasion, I stepped outside my role as a lawyer to become more of a social worker and source of psychological support so that my clients could reorganize themselves in order to provide their children with the basic needs or to get their life back on track.
It was clear that my clients had difficulty finding resources to help them. Therefore, I got involved in organizations such as CRCATNQ (Centre résidentiel communautaire de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue/Nord-du-Québec), a centre that houses parolees, but that also provides aid services, programs to help with such things as the anxiety that underlies impulsivity and aggressiveness as well as aid programs to end drug, alcohol and emotional dependency. I also became involved in the SATAS organization, which is an aid centre that helps people with violent behaviour or individuals who have committed domestic violence.
As my law practice grew, I first represented individuals and then small and medium businesses (SMBs). I was able to see that the regional SMBs are imaginative and their expertise is very diverse. They are active not just in mining and forestry, but also in technology, construction and processing, which led me to handle contracts and collective agreements for them.
In recent years, my experience has focused a great deal on insurance and security law and constitutional matters in criminal law, such as the C-2 and Jordan cases. I have thus represented municipal corporations, insurance companies and financial institutions, and band councils. This led me into such fields as the review of municipal regulations; the drafting and archiving of regulations, matters of compliance with insurance policy agreements and execution of the termination of term benefits; security contracts related to instalment sales contracts and mortgage contracts as well as putting in place policies aimed at housing and accessibility requirements for properties.
In conclusion, all these different clients gave me the opportunity to work with low income people, people from the middle class and business people, for individuals, corporations and institutions. Here in regional areas, we have the opportunity to have a varied and diversified practice, which I believe is the reflection of Canadian society.
3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.
To situate the role of a judge properly within a regime such as a constitutional democracy, one must first understand the concrete basis of this constitutional democracy. The Fathers of the Canadian constitution truly cared about putting the power in the hands of the people and making sure that it did not fall into those of some despot. So, they implemented a system of weights and counterweights that create a self-balancing of power that we quite simply call the separation of powers. The first lines of the constitution developed and put to paper a system of three branches: legislative power, executive power and judicial power. Each is responsible for supervising the others within the limits of their own mandate. Therefore, there is no single entity that directs everything in an arbitrary manner, but rather a group of citizens each ensuring that they do not exceed the powers bestowed upon them by the country’s population through its right to vote.
The executive power, formed by the prime minister and his cabinet of ministers, looks after the administration of the government. It manages the budget and defines the government’s day-to-day priorities, to some extent. The legislative power is comprised of officials elected to represent their region who are responsible for implementing, modifying or repealing laws and regulations to ensure that the country runs smoothly. These first two branches can sometimes, especially in Canada, work in concert given that the prime minister and his elected representatives are also the elected deputies sitting in the house who are called to vote on laws and regulations.
With respect to judicial power, this is and must be much more independent from the others. Its duty is to oversee the application of the laws and regulations voted by the legislative branch and to ensure the actions of the government, the executive, are maintained as part of a free and democratic society. This is where, within the judicial power, we find the function of the judge, holding a specific place in our society.
The role of the judge in a constitutional democracy falls within the framework of a function that interprets the law as well as the federal and provincial acts all based on the jurisdiction of the Court involved. According to the constitution, an independent judicial power has, under the Charter, the power and duty to invalidate the laws adopted by the elected representatives, both by the provincial assemblies and by the federal parliament if they pass legislation that would exceed their jurisdiction or violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Since Canada is a constitutional democracy, the Parliament and the legislative assembly of the provinces are bound by the Constitution. Therefore, in this federation, the judicial power can and must circumscribe the authority of the parliaments and ensure that the limits established by the provisions on the sharing of power are respected. The Constitution Act of 1867 combined with the application of the Charter adopted in 1982 that asserts the supreme nature of the constitution over ordinary laws is the central pillar of our democracy. As a result, the courts can declare inoperative any provisions incompatible with the Constitution.
Moreover, the judge must ensure that the application of a law or regulation does not run counter to the Canadian Bill of Rights. The judge in a constitutional democracy ensures that these rights and freedoms are protected by assuming the role assigned to them. This role is akin to a safety net against abuse of institutions against citizens, corporations against individuals, and also the majority against the minority.
Finally, with respect to the independence of judicial power from that of the executive and legislative, it goes without saying that judges have an independence from leaders and the population to make their decision. Since judges are not elected, but indeed appointed until they are seventy-five (75) years old, they benefit from full autonomy to render a judgment in whole or in part on the laws that would run counter to the interests and rights of Canadians.
4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?
I am applying to the Superior Court of Quebec. The Superior Court of Quebec is intended for citizens who want to assert their rights in civil matters pursuant to the Civil Code of Quebec, etc. Thus, it is called upon to decide disputes on matters worth at least $85,000, as well as on matters as diverse as those related to family, such as divorce, alimony or child custody. It also hears class-action lawsuits in Quebec and it can issue injunctions to cease any criminal activity.
In criminal matters, the Superior Court has relatively exclusive jurisdiction to hear certain crimes such as murder, treason and alarming Her Majesty, under section 469 of the Criminal Code. It also has jurisdiction to hear any offence under section 553 of the Criminal Code if an option is not provided for a judge of a provincial court to be able to hear the case.
It is also the court of appeal for all summary conviction offences, and in penal matters for regulatory statutory infractions tried before a municipal court or the Court of Quebec.
It also exercises a superintending and reforming power through extraordinary remedies such as certiorari, habeas corpus, mandamus and prohibition.
The Superior Court also hears judicial reviews of decisions from lower courts and administrative organizations in Quebec pursuant to its judicial control.
The Superior Court has residual jurisdiction, in other words it hears any dispute whose subject matter has not been assigned to a specific court. This stems from the constitutional law where it appears that when the law is not assigned to a specific jurisdiction in Quebec and Canada, then it is the Superior Court that acts as the trial court in this matter. These decisions are called erga omnes, they apply to everyone, not just the parties before it.
Therefore, it is called to make decisions that apply to individuals, private and public corporations, businesses, institutions and government. The judges are assigned to one district, although they have jurisdiction throughout Quebec.
It thus applies to all citizens living in the province of Quebec and in Canada.
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.
The moving business in Quebec experiences strong peak periods, such as at the end of the month and especially July 1 when I had to manage over 50 employees, in addition to managing the customers for whom the move was a situation of major stress. These situations helped me develop early on good stress management and a good ability to make quick decisions.
As a dispatcher as well, I also had to learn how to plan and supervise moves regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally.
All these tasks helped me develop an analytical expertise and to develop and structure my law firm.
In fact, the atypical hours in the transportation field helped me become someone with a good work capacity and leaderships skills, which facilitated my career path in law, because I was able to develop my clientele while always being available for people. At meetings, it is often pointed out that I am a very approachable person.
Despite the volume of work and the various stressful situations that can arise in a family business, our family was able to remain united and is still very tight-knit. This life experience has given me good management and listening skills that are useful to me today in developing my law firm. In fact, we have grown from a firm of two lawyers to a flourishing business of six lawyers, two paralegals and four legal assistants, spread between the two cities of Amos and La Sarre.
Personal values such as integrity, honesty and resourcefulness helped me develop my clientele and enjoy a good reputation with my colleagues, the judiciary and in my community.
In closing, beyond my law studies, my other university degrees, such as my honours bachelor’s degree in political science, taught me good analytical skills and to delineate my thinking to form an opinion following specific situations. This also serves me well when I have to read doctrine and case law. During arguments, we have to synthesize the content of decisions so that our thoughts are clear and convincing to the court.
My technical education certificate in college teaching enables me to express myself clearly so that people understand my thoughts, but I also still apply pedagogical techniques such as active listening, reformulation and outreach. Most of my clients are not familiar with legal jargon. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that they clearly understand their legal situation so that they can make informed decisions.
In conclusion, all my skills and experience at the professional and personal level mean that I will always care about issuing clear decisions for citizens, who are representing themselves increasingly often, because to me a good decision is a decision that I can explain to the client and in which the client understands why they did or did not win the case.
For all these reasons, I believe that I am capable of exercising the role of judge.
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 believe that people would be able to see themselves reflected in me, because through my life experience and professional experience, I have remained close to people. I am from the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, I went to school here and although I went to Université Laval in Québec for university, I came back to the area to develop and practise my profession.
Upon my return, I got involved at many levels. My social involvement with the Lions Femmes d’Amos and not-for-profit organizations such as CRCATNQ and SATAS keeps me in touch with the people living in my community. With a business clientele very involved in its community, I participate with them in building our community.
Finally, in April 2017, I was elected by acclamation by my colleagues as Bâtonnière (president) for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue/Nord-du-Québec region. This means that I must make sure that citizens’ rights are respected and provide media relations. I also sit on various regional socio-legal councils in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue/Nord-du-Québec region to ensure consistency between the rules and practice of lawyers, the judiciary and legal partners.
I believe that the people in the region would be able to see themselves in me through my involvement in all these causes.
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