THUNDER BAY – NEWS – Justice Patrick Smith is facing a review of his actions in taking on the role of interim dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. While there were no complaints filed when Justice Smith took the position, it was media reports with the concerns raised by Indigenous leaders that caught the attention of the Canadian Judicial Council.
Associate Chief Justice Robert Pidgeon of Quebec Superior Court, who is the vice-chair of the Canadian Judicial Council’s conduct committee says, “I am of the view that Justice Patrick Smith engaged in misconduct by accepting a position as Interim Dean without considering the possible public controversy associated with the reaction from the chiefs of First Nations and without considering the political environment or the potential effect on the prestige of judicial office.”
Justice Patrick Smith stepped down as the temporary Dean of the Bora Laskin Law School on September 14th.
At the time Justice Smith said, “It’s been an extremely positive experience being a part of Lakehead University and this Faculty of Law. I have enjoyed a strong and productive relationship with the students, and our faculty and staff, and I take with me the warm feeling that I have become part of the Lakehead family.”
The Canadian Judicial Council, however, has taken steps to seek to remove Justice Smith from the bench stating that in taking the position as temporary dean at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law the Justice put himself into a position of controversy.
Justice Smith is fighting back. The Ontario Superior Court Justice is seeking a stay of the CJC’s disciplinary action against him with the federal court. On September 7, 2018, the CJC filed a notice of appeal with the federal court on this matter.
The Canadian Judicial Council states that due to the reasons stated by former Bora Laskin Faculty of Law Dean Angelique Eaglewoman, that she was resigning over issues of discrimination that Justice Smith who sought, and received approval from both Superior Court Chief Justice Heather Smith (no relation to Justice Patrick Smith) and from the federal Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould over his taking on the interim dean role at the law school. In court documents it is stated that the federal minister had no concerns over Justice Smith taking on the role.
Those court documents also state that the law school could have been in danger of losing its charter without a dean in place.