NEWS ARTICLE ● OPSEU News Wire Feb 17, 2021
Ontario judge guilty of 'extremely poor judgement' must be terminated: OPSEU/SEFPO
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Feb 17, 2021, 17:22 ET
TORONTO, Feb. 17, 2021 /CNW/ - OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says a judge with the Superior Court of Justice who presided over her Toronto-area court cases from the Caribbean is guilty of extremely poor judgement and must be terminated immediately.
Thomas is calling for swift action against the unnamed judge and the regional senior judge who approved her plans to travel and work from abroad. One media report indicated she was hearing cases from Turks and Caicos.
Thomas calls it ludicrous that she was granted such permission just days after travel and work directives were issued to all Superior Court justices in Ontario.
"This case takes the cake or maybe it takes the Caicos," said Thomas. "We've seen a string of high-profile public figures getting axed for their non-essential travel abroad, but it's unbelievable that a judge is presiding over her cases from a Caribbean resort while front-line courthouse staff are forced to work in unsafe courthouses."
According to Chief Justice Morawetz, the judge in question was granted permission as a result of "an oversight." She has since been advised to stop.
But the union says that's not good enough.
"With great power comes great responsibility," said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. "Judges hold people's fate in their hands, they must be held to the highest ethical standard and passing sentence poolside in the Caribbean doesn't cut it."
As the union representing court staff, OPSEU/SEFPO raised major concerns over the Chief Justices' decision to re-open the courts last July without the proper protections in place to protect workers and the general public.
"Our members working in the courts are helping to keep this province running during a global health crisis," said Thomas. "They deserve a safe and healthy workplace, at a minimum."
Thomas called the situation a dangerous double-standard.
"It's mind-boggling," said Thomas. "To have judges presiding over cases from a tropical resort while forcing court staff to return to an unsafe work environment goes beyond poor judgement, it's an outright abuse of power and privilege.
"There is no room for Baywatch justice in Ontario," said Thomas. "This judge has failed in the court of public opinion and to restore order and trust in our judicial system, she must go."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)