Transcription – English – Leslie Smith

27. Leslie Smith.mp4: Video automatically transcribed by Sonix

27. Leslie Smith.mp4: this mp4 video file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Leslie Smith:
So I'm a a lawyer. I've been a lawyer in Ontario for 34 years. Last year, I resigned from the I retired from the small claims court bench. I was a deputy judge for 17 years. I'm a mediator, an arbitrator as well. So I've spent my whole professional life in this great occupation of the law. In April of this year, I happened to be listening to a podcast by John Carpay of the the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, and he was reviewing an article in the La Devoir newspaper in Montreal. And in this article, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada published statements which really, I believe, demonstrate impartiality or partiality, I should say, and bias against the truckers. And so I was part of a group. I'm still part of a group of lawyers. And I, I pitched the idea to this group in April that we really need to lay a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council, which oversees federally regulated judges, including the Chief Justice, because I felt that it was a travesty to have the top judge in this country demonstrate what I considered and what the law considers to be bias actually against the the truckers and and the trucker convoy. And so I got some support for that. And I said, look, if nobody else wants to sign their name to this complaint, I'm really okay with that. I'll do it alone. But it turns out we had 13 of us all together, myself included, and we worked away at this complaint, which I filed in May, and I just thought I would just go through some of the comments and very briefly just touch on what the law actually says. But. The Court.

Trish Wood:
Can I just can I just ask you before you go on.

Leslie Smith:
Yeah.

Trish Wood:
What did he say? Yeah, that, that was oh, OK.

Leslie Smith:
You're going to just going to get there, Trish. Thanks. Okay, thanks. Thanks so much. By the way, I'm a huge fan of your show.

Trish Wood:
Oh, thank you.

Leslie Smith:
Yeah, listen to it all the time. Okay. So the impugned comments then from the chief justice to the leader newspaper were and I won't read all of them, but I'll read a couple of quotes. So here he's talking about the trucker convoy. He says, What we have seen recently on Wellington Street here is the beginning of anarchy, where some people have decided to take other citizens hostage, to take the law into their own hands and not respect the mechanism. I find that worrying forced blows against the state justice and democratic institutions like the ones delivered by protesters to the doors of the Prime Minister's Office, Privy Council, Parliament, Supreme Court of Canada and the Press Gallery between January 28 and February 1st must be denounced with force, and this by all the figures of power in the country, says the chief justice. And he referred to some of the participant participants in the trucker convoy as remotely guided people seeking to bypass the political system. And he was quoted to say, It doesn't inspire good feelings in me. I find that disturbing. He goes on to talk about how we have to guard our democracy in this country, etc.. So the essence of his his words and by the way, he he is a Canadian citizen. He has charter protections. He's allowed to have these comments.

Leslie Smith:
What he should not be doing as a federally appointed judge is voicing those opinions when it is very reasonable to assume that some of these cases that are challenging the invocation of the Emergencies Act, which happened during the trucker convoy. Some of those cases may well end up in his court. And so what we have what we argued through case law and other things is that we we seem to have a chief justice that has already predetermined or prejudged whether or not the Emergencies Act should have been invoked. And this is the very subject matter of several lawsuits that have been filed in the federal court, which may, you know, wind their way up to the Supreme Court. And so. The the group of lawyers that I was involved in felt as equally passionate about this as I did, because when a lower court judge makes comments or makes or has a tone or demeanor that would lead a reasonable person to believe that they are biased. They can they can appeal that. They can take that for to judicial review to the next level up. But when it's the top judge in the country, there's nowhere to go from that. And so the problem with making remarks like this is that it undermines the appearance of independence of the judiciary.

Leslie Smith:
It undermines the public's confidence in the judicial system, generally speaking. And and so we've launched this complaint. People have asked me, well, what do you want to see happen? I, I very specifically said, I, I don't want to tell the Judicial Council how to deal with this. They have their processes. They're going to deal with it. And however it's resolved, that is really out of my hands. But we've I felt that what we needed to do was bring this complaint. So we wrote this very dignified, polite. We thank Chief Justice Wagner for his service, his excellence. But we are very concerned as a group of lawyers with such comments being published in a newspaper. We believe that these comments ought not to have been published anywhere. He certainly free to have a conversation with his friends or family, but he he really ought not to have made those comments. And we were also not. We are not saying that we disagree with what he said. We are simply saying that he ought not to have made those comments because it would lead a person to believe that he's already prejudged a situation which more than likely is going to come into his court. So I'll stop there because you may have some questions and I know we're over time here. So.

Trish Wood:
Well, I think the other issue is and it's not necessarily a legal issue, but when someone who is that esteemed in the community makes a comment like that, it carries a lot of weight, doesn't it? And one would hope that he might be somewhat more careful in the future on those things, aside from whether or not he's hearing a case involving the truckers. But I'll hand it over to the panel. I'm sure they've got some great questions for you.

Preston Manning:
Yeah. Leslie, isn't part of the problem here that isn't the chief justice, the chair or the judge? Yes, just the court.

Leslie Smith:
Yes, he is. He he is the chair of the Canadian Judicial Council. And so in the on the on their website, they have a a all of the rules of ethics. And he's his name is at the bottom of it. So it's a tad embarrassing. I would think.

Preston Manning:
So. He's being asked to pass judgment on himself, which is unlikely to be.

Leslie Smith:
Well, yeah, there's a process, there's inquiry, there's investigation, there's a panel that's struck and so forth. So they have multi layer complaint procedure. You know what? This is why it's impossible for it was would be impossible for us to say he should be removed from the bench or he should recuse himself when these cases come up. Because I think it's just best that we we leave it in their hands and they have to deal with it.

Preston Manning:
Wouldn't another way to get at this, to make the point and maybe I'm incorrect on this, if this occurred in the United States by a member of the US Supreme Court, there would be an action to impeach. And that doesn't the American system does have a way of impeaching a sitting justice. It would be interesting just to have an American writer write up the story. What if this had been done in the United States? Here's what would have happened. It doesn't necessarily say end up being impeached, but he would be subject to an impeachment hearing, which for for a judge is a very, very serious event in the United States. That might be another way of kind of making this point. Indirectly. Maybe we should encourage somebody to do that.

Leslie Smith:
Well, I'm not sure that that process really exists for us, but. But you raise an inferential point, and that is is that the mainstream media has not picked up this story except for National Post, because one of our group wrote an article, Professor Bruce Partee wrote an article on it, and there's been the odd mention, but not in the mainstream media. So if anything, I think that we should be. If you're going to ask me the question, what should we do about this? Then I would suggest maybe we ought to be sending the complaint to as many journalists as we can and just say, why aren't you covering this?

Preston Manning:
And whether remarks made in French for Le Devoir.

Leslie Smith:
They were, yes. And so we had to translate them.

Preston Manning:
Okay.

Leslie Smith:
Thank you. Yes.

Trish Wood:
Leslie, thank you very much. We're very, very grateful. It was super interesting. I actually didn't know about that. So thank you.

Leslie Smith:
I actually sent to the organizer of this a copy of the complaint and asked that all the panel members get a copy. So if you want to read it, you can reach out to Sonya. I believe she could help you with that.

Trish Wood:
Okay. Thank you very much.

Leslie Smith:
Thanks so much, everyone. Good night.

Trish Wood:
I want to thank the panelists, Preston Manning and Susan Natsheh and David Ross and Sonya Anderson, who put it together. I'm wondering if anybody wants to just quickly say something to sum up what we heard today. Was there a theme for any of you that you were thinking of?

Preston Manning:
Elaborate very loudly or longly. How? Button here. But I think one consistent thing through all of this is a lot of people ask some reasonable questions of people in authority, and nobody gets answers that don't even get acknowledgement of it, which I think reinforces this argument that ultimately there has to be some kind of an official inquiry where people who could answer are subpoenaed and compelled to answer.

Trish Wood:
Thank you very much. We'll be back tomorrow. See you.

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