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Before Justice Camp, these two judges were recommended for removal

Federal Court Justice Robin Camp leaves a Canadian Judicial Council inquiry in a Calgary hotel, Friday, September 9, 2016.


Before Justice Robin Camp, the Canadian Judicial Council had recommended the dismissal of only two other judges. Both resigned before the House of Commons heard their cases.

Jean Bienvenue

Justice Jean Bienvenue of the Quebec Superior Court was the first judge the Canadian Judicial Council recommended to remove from the bench after an outcry about remarks he made during a murder trial.

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The judge was presiding at the 1995 trial of Tracy Théberge, charged with murdering her husband, who had been left to bleed to death after his throat was slit with a razor blade.

When he saw that a lawyer had offered a tissue to a female juror who was crying, Justice Bienvenue told her, "Kleenex is a woman's best friend."

After the jury found Ms. Théberge guilty of second-degree murder, Justice Bienvenue met the jurors in their room, criticized them for failing to reach a verdict of first-degree murder and said he would ignore their recommendation for a 10-year sentence.

During sentencing, Justice Bienvenue talked about how women, "the noblest beings in creation," could also "sink to depths to which even the vilest man could not sink."

He compared the accused to infamous women such as Delilah, the Old Testament temptress who betrayed Samson; Salome, the woman in the New Testament who asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter; and the First World War spy Mata Hari.

"At the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland, which I once visited horror-stricken, even the Nazis did not eliminate millions of Jews in a painful or bloody manner," he concluded. "They died in the gas chambers without suffering,."

In a television interview afterward, Justice Bienvenue stood by his remarks, "which were thoughtful and carefully considered," he said.

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A former prosecutor, Justice Bienvenue was a Liberal provincial cabinet minister, handling portfolios such as education and immigration, before he was appointed to the bench.

He told the judicial council that "his ideas about women were taught to him by his mother 60 years ago and by a Jesuit teacher 50 years ago when he was in college."

Paul Cosgrove

The second judge the Canadian Judicial Council formally recommended to be removed, in March, 2009, was Justice Paul Cosgrove of Ontario Superior Court, after a drawn-out, chaotic murder trial in which he appeared to side repeatedly with the defence.

A former Liberal federal cabinet minister and mayor of Scarborough, Ont., Justice Cosgrove oversaw the jury trial of Julia Elliott, a former masseuse accused of murdering and dismembering her ex-boyfriend, Larry Foster.

The jury heard evidence for only nine days before Justice Cosgrove allowed a series of procedural motions in which the defence claimed conspiracies in which police and prosecutors forged or destroyed documents.

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During the two years of proceedings, Justice Cosgrove made more than 150 findings of misconduct by the Crown and police before he eventually stayed proceedings.

The Ontario Court of Appeal later ruled that the judge's findings typically were unfair and had no factual or legal basis.

An inquiry committee of the judicial council found that Justice Cosgrove incorrectly alleged that Ontario assistant deputy attorney-general Murray Segal was complicit in misleading the court without giving Mr. Segal an opportunity to respond.

The inquiry also found that the judge interfered with the work of Crown attorneys, meddled with an ongoing RCMP investigation, threatened Steven Foster, the son of the victim, with contempt of court then mocked his lawyer.

"Here I was at the murder trial of my father [and] I was maybe going to be going to jail before the perpetrator of the crime. It was insane," Steven Foster later told the judicial council.

In an apology, the judge said he had struggled to manage a challenging case. "I at times lost my way … I never acted in bad faith, but I now realize that I made a series of significant errors that affected that proceeding."

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