Vic Toews drops challenge of conflict ruling


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Vic Toews could soon learn whether he faces professional sanctions for breaking federal conflict-of-interest rules before he became a Court of Queen’s Bench judge.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/11/2017 (1943 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Vic Toews could soon learn whether he faces professional sanctions for breaking federal conflict-of-interest rules before he became a Court of Queen’s Bench judge.

Earlier this month, Toews withdrew his court challenge of a ruling by federal conflict of interest and ethics commissioner Mary Dawson, paving the way — potentially — for a quick resolution to a complaint about his conduct filed with the Canadian Judicial Council.

In April, Dawson found that Toews, a former federal cabinet minister, violated the Conflict of Interest Act when he received money for services from two Manitoba First Nations not long after leaving office in July 2013. He became a judge in 2014.

Toews initially challenged Dawson’s findings, filing an application with the Federal Court of Appeal. But a few weeks ago, he withdrew the application, his lawyer Robert Tapper said Thursday, allowing for the complaint to proceed.

Johanna Laporte, the judicial council’s director of communications and registry services, said a “determination” regarding Toews is expected in about a week or so.

The council has not revealed the identity of the complainant. The tribunal received the complaint against Toews immediately after Dawson’s report came out. When Toews launched his erstwhile appeal, the council put the complaint in abeyance.

Laporte said a senior judicial council staffer has reviewed the complaint, and it was forwarded to a member of the council’s judicial conduct committee for decision.

The council will choose one of three possible outcomes, said Laporte. It can close the matter, close the matter while expressing concern and a suggestion for remedial action, or send it to a review panel for further study. If a review panel were to conclude that the complaint might be serious enough to warrant a judge’s removal from office, it could decide that an inquiry committee hear the matter.

Tapper said Toews elected to withdraw his appeal of Dawson’s ruling in order to speed up the council process.

While Tapper “firmly believed that the ruling by the ethics commissioner was wrong in multiple respects,” he said it might have taken a year to receive a decision from the Federal Court of Appeal.

“I was strongly in the view that we would have succeeded (in court), but it was going to take quite a bit of time,” he said. “It was standing in the way of the Canadian Judicial Council dealing with the issue before it. And one had to give way to the other.”

Toews has continued in his role as a federal judge since Dawson issued her damning report last spring.

Duff Conacher, co-founder of the advocacy group Democracy Watch, had called for Toews to be been suspended from his position on the bench until the complaint into his conduct is dealt with by the council.

On Thursday, he said it’s difficult to predict what the council will decide.

“It could go either way,” said Conacher, who has followed several such complaints involving judges.

He also said that Toews may already have an inkling on how the council will rule.

“There are back and forth exchanges, and he would have a pretty clear sign on the way it’s going, I would imagine,” Conacher said.

The federal ethics commissioner said Toews ran afoul of conflict-of-interest rules by providing consulting services to two Manitoba First Nations.

In one case, he received a retainer from Norway House Cree Nation, an organization he had dealt with while in cabinet, before a two-year cooling-off period expired.

In a second case, he acted on behalf of Peguis First Nation in its quest to acquire Kapyong Barracks land after representing the federal government on the same issue, Dawson found.

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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