Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Judicial council defends training given to federally appointed judges

  • Print

OTTAWA -- With Justice Robert Dewar under fire from Manitoba to Parliament Hill, the Canadian Judicial Council took the unusual step of defending the training of the federal judiciary.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the CJC said all federally appointed judges receive extensive training upon their appointment to the bench. The CJC said those appointed to the federal bench must also undertake additional training annually during their time as judge.

"Canadians rightly expect that those who serve as judges have the legal skills, competence and temperament suited to the difficult task of deciding criminal and civil disputes," wrote CJC executive director Norman Sabourin in the statement. Sabourin did not respond to a media request to explain the timing of his statement.

During a sentencing hearing in Thompson in February, Dewar ruled out jail time for a sexual assault, saying the victim had dressed provocatively and sent out signals the attacker misinterpreted.

The ruling shocked many Canadians and prompted numerous complaints to the CJC, including from the Manitoba government, which is considering an appeal of the sentence. The CJC, made up of chief justices and associate chief justices from the Supreme Court of Canada and the provinces, investigates complaints against the judiciary.

It acknowledged on Feb. 25 an investigation is underway of Dewar's comments.

In a House of Commons committee hearing March 1, both Liberal MP Anita Neville and NDP MP Irene Mathyssen questioned Justice Minister Rob Nicholson about the extent of judicial training, given Dewar's statements.

Nicholson said training was delivered at the provincial level but he and provincial attorney's general feel it is a priority issue.

Sabourin, however, said federally appointed judges are trained by the CJC upon appointment and every year after that.

"The CJC has adopted clear guidelines about the importance of judicial education," Sabourin wrote. "After attending more extensive courses at the time of their appointment, judges are expected to devote a minimum of 10 days a year, outside of their regular hearing of cases, to judicial education."

He said the CJC offers judicial-education programs in all areas of the law such as social-context issues, communication skills and the challenges of self-represented litigants.

"When issues arise concerning a judge's role in a trial, our system provides for remedy," said Sabourin.

"One can appeal a decision to a higher court or submit a complaint to the CJC. In both cases, personal effort and judicial education programs can often be helpful."

During question period Feb. 28, status of women minister Rona Ambrose said Dewar's statements were not what victims need to hear.

"We established long ago in this country that no means no and I hope that any messages like this do not have any impact on any victims coming forward to report sexual abuse or sexual assault, in the future."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2011 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Janice Filmon humbled to be appointed lieutenant-governor

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Winnipeg Free Press 090528 STAND UP...(Weather) One to oversee the pecking order, a pack of pelican's fishes the eddies under the Red River control structure at Lockport Thursday morning......

View More Gallery Photos


Are you planning to go visit the new polar bear, Humphrey, at the Assiniboine Park Zoo?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google