Monday, November 05, 2012

He's back!

Layperson legal researcher extraordinaire Chris Budgell (incognito)

Good Day Readers:

Mr. Budgell is increasingly turning his attention to the Canadian Judicial Counsel and its expensive taxpayer financed rapid descent into irrelevancy known as the Douglas Inquiry. You could even say it's now a cat and mouse game where the cat is the Inquiry Committee plus its Counsel and the remaining lawyers (total of 16) who participated in a conference call Tuesday, October 30 of this year with a Federal Court of Canada Judge.
Chris Budgell keeps coming up with more and more interesting legal factoids and inter relationships. CJC you should be concerned you should be very concerned.

By way of very brief background, The Berger Affair to which Mr. Budgell refers is Thomas R. Berger best known for his work  as Commissioner of the Royal Commission on the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry (1977). More recently, he has been one of a costly stable of lawyers fighting the taxpayer financed Manitoba Metis Federation's land claim case. Today he is in private practice (Vancouver).
According to MMF President David Noble Chartrand, shown below in a picture that appeared a few years ago on his then girlfriend and now wife's Facebook Page, the settlement could be worth Billions of dollars to the Metis community (Winnipeg Free Press).
The case was first heard in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench then its Appellant Division where it was again soundly rejected. In March of 2011 it was presented before the Supreme Court of Canada where it now sits. Legal analysts tell CyberSmokeBlog when a case makes it that far the facts are no longer in dispute having been vetted at lower lowers. Rather, the focus is on whether any errors were made interpreting the law.

Allan McEachern was a Canadian lawyer, judge and University of British Columbia Chancellor who didn't smoke or drink (Geeze not even one Big, Fat Cuban cigar with a glass of fine red wine?). Is that where the expression, "sober as a judge" derived?
Here's his latest dispatch from Vancouver.

Got comments/questions for Chris Budgell on the research he's doing? He can be reached at

Clare L. Pieuk

Dear Mr. Pieuk:

I expect to get to a scanner tomorrow. Chapter 23 of  "The Berger Affair" is twelve pages and was written by former British Columbia Chief Justice Allan McEachern. It appears to date from around 1994 when he was Chairman of the Canadian Judicial Council's Judicial Conduct Committee. On page 5 of 10 there's a brief reference to the Berger case (1981). The article is entitled, Openness and Independence in Judicial Discipline Matters. This is worth reading for the historical context alone.

The McEachern Paper is at Tab 5. BTW, on page 6 you'll see a familiar name Ed Ratushny.

Editor's Note: Ed Ratushny is a recently retired University of Ottawa Law Professor recognized as one of Canada's foremost authorities on constitutional law and judicial conduct. He is a consultant to the Douglas Inquiry Committee having attended all hearings to date.
 Further, I believe the CJC is now a wounded beast - perhaps fatally wounded. If that's so, then it's an opportunity to set a precedent to show that Canadians do not have to tolerate governing institutions that fail to serve the public interest.

On the ferry to Swartz Bay (Victoria yesterday) I went over Blatchford's article (Christie Blatchford, National Post - Inquiry into Manitoba judge's scandal stuck in legal limbo, October 30, 2012) again then turned to a book I had bought a few years ago - the biography of Bora Laskin (former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice):

I happened to open it to the third last chapter, The Thomas Berger Affair. This is a public confrontation between Laskin and Berger that began with a complaint brought by another Judge directly to Laskin as the Chair of the CJC and ended after a Council Inquiry and the full CJC had disposed of the matter when Berger decided to resign from the Bench in response to a speech Laskin gave.

A very interesting story and indeed revealing of the culture. I don't have the book with me tonight, but I'll photocopy and scan the pages so your readers can see this for themselves.

As previously noted, I am very interested in what Christie Blatchford reported and what more we learn about this. One reason is that the federal Department of Justice responded to my judicial review application before the Federal Court of Canada regarding the CJC's summary dismissal of my two complaints by informing me I was mistaken naming The Council as the respondent. But in the Blatchford article I noticed a comment that the Justice Department now wants out of that action. Can you blame it for wanting out of the Douglas Inquiry? Talk about a colossal mess!

Regarding the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association, I had learned very little about it until now. One interesting point is that its Director Frank McArdle is marred to Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice and Canadian Judicial Council Chair Beverley McLachlin. That reminds me of some of the relationships I've seen elsewhere between management and union executives. Should we trust they all scrupulously avoid talking about work at home?

BTW, on Tuesday (October 30, 2012) I carbon copied Julie Durette (General Counsel, Judicial Conduct, Canadian Judicial Council), Norman Sabourin (Executive Director and Senior General Council, Canadian Judicial Council), Neil Wittman (Alberta Chief Justice, Chairman CJC's Judicial Conduct Committee) former Supreme Court of Canada Legal Officer Jill Copeland and the Officer of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs a one line email addressed to Jeffrey Sack who runs Lancaster House (which is where I found Ms Durette's old biography:


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