Integrity Commissioner Investigates Judicial Tribunal Chair

The News:

This month (April 2013), the Federal Public Sector Integrity Commissioner tabled in Parliament its Report of her Office’s investigation into complaints of “wrongdoing” that had been made against the former Chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in respect of her conduct as an administrator while she was the Chairperson.  The Commissioner’s April 2013 Case Report is entitled: “Findings … in the Matter of an Investigation into a Disclosure of Wrongdoing – Canadian Human Rights Tribunal”.

The report is available on the website of the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada.

The Issues this News Presents:

Leaving the merits of the findings in this particular case aside, the Integrity Commissioner’s Report brings to the fore a number of administrative justice system issues.  These include:

  • The signal importance of a tribunal chair to the appropriate and effective workings of a judicial tribunal;
  • The Unknown nature of judicial tribunal chair selection and appointment processes – in this case in the Federal jurisdiction.
  • The absence of appropriate, Valente-mandated, procedural protection of the independence of judicial tribunal chairs and members charged with misconduct.  In this case, the Report and its “finding” that there was “wrongdoing” is based on an “investigation” by an Office whose constitutive statute required it to view the Chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal as, effectively, no different than any other person “employed” in the public sector.
  • The added complexity for the procedural protection of the independence of judicial tribunal chairs given the chairs’ roles as both their tribunal’s chief executive officer and ‘chief justice’.
  • The implications of a finding that a judicial tribunal chair is guilty of administrative wrongdoing for the credibility of that tribunal’s adjudicative decisions in which the impugned chair may have participated during the relevant period.


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