A judge of the Administrative Court of Housing (TAL) is blamed in ethics for having publicly described colleagues as a “gang of non-judgment”. The administrative judge then defended its president in the context of an internal war revealed by La Presse.
“The remarks that Me Leclerc made give credence to the image that the TAL is a divided body within which there is a ‘clique’, a pejorative word if there ever was one, of judges who are devoid of judgment whereas they are called upon daily to settle disputes between tenants and landlords throughout Quebec”, deplores the investigation committee of the Conseil de la justice administrative (CJA).
In a decision recently made public, the committee concluded that Judge Micheline Leclerc breached her duty of discretion and contributed to “discrediting” the court by participating “in the public controversy affecting the TAL”. The CJA is the body that evaluates ethical complaints against administrative tribunal judges.
The contentious remarks were made in March 2022 by administrative judge Micheline Leclerc, in an interview with the author of these lines. Our report described the clan war that was tearing the TAL judges apart at the time, mainly due to a conflict between President Patrick Simard and Judge André Gagnier, who lost his position for a case of sexual misconduct. Some judges accused the president of creating a “climate of terror” within the TAL.
In an interview with La Presse, administrative judge Micheline Leclerc fired red bullets at her colleague Gagnier and “his little clique”1. “You can’t manage such a big organization by having your feet pounded by a gang of non-judgemental people,” she told La Presse, praising the president’s merits.
The harsh and public criticism of Micheline Leclerc had aroused the anger of many TAL judges at the time. The Association of Administrative Judges of the TAL had deplored the lack of reaction from management following these comments “seriously shading” the work of the judges of the TAL.
Before the review committee, Micheline Leclerc did not deny having made such comments. In her defense, her attorney argued that the phrase “without judgment” was “extremely respectful.”
“The committee disagrees with this assertion. Just like the use of the word “clique”, which in such a context turns out to be pejorative, the expression “a gang of non-judgment” appears rather as an insult”, concludes the CJA investigation committee.
It now remains to determine the sanction to be imposed on the administrative judge. She faces a reprimand, suspension or dismissal. Me Leclerc’s mandate was renewed by the government in 2021.