Canada: Complaint System Against Judges Needs Overhaul Says New Chief Justice

The new Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice has made a couple bold statements that needed making. One has to do with the system of how people can complain about misconduct of judges.

“New chief justice says system for dealing with complaints against judges needs work”

That is good news and acknowledges there is an ongoing problem that has not been addressed with judges engaged in misconduct. Wow. Rare for anyone in the system to admit there is misconduct and we need to address it unless there is an active lawsuit with overwhelming evidence that can no longer be ignored or bullied away.

“While Canadians expect transparency and accountability, we continue to operate under 1970s models of judicial administration,” he said.

The new chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada says the system for dealing with complaints of serious misconduct by judges needs an overhaul.

As Richard Wagner was officially welcomed to his new position today he took advantage of the presence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal justice minister to point out shortcomings in the existing process.


“It has become increasingly evident that our procedures for dealing with serious judicial conduct complaints are out-moded, slow and opaque,” Wagner said, without citing specific examples.


Wagner added that the court system, in general, needs to be updated to reflect a desire for increased openness.

“While Canadians expect transparency and accountability, we continue to operate under 1970s models of judicial administration,” he said.


The time for making complaints about judges has never been better, as long as they are legitimate, as there is an open admission and apparent interest in improvement from the Chief Justice which reverberates down through all the courts in Canada.

If you have a rude, abusive, threatening judge make a formal record of it, complain. Each court has the information on how to complain about a judge on their website, or should have. If not, call the registry and request the process.

You cannot complain about their decision, that is what appeals are, you can complain about their visible actions, verbal words, tone of voice – any behaviours that can be seen as prejudicial, disrespectful, threatening etc. You will need transcripts and hopefully witness statements to back up your complaint, which is fair. Never attend court alone, always have witnesses.

Provincial court judges are appoint provincially, they have a complaint process within the provincial court.

Superior and Federal court judges are appointed federally and have a different complaint process. Here are a few links to the federal judicial council:

Canadian Judicial Council –