I entered a local grocery store to meet my wife, who had been shopping there. She told me that she had seen a man wearing a Trump t-shirt like this one:
It was when she told me who was wearing the repugnant apparel that I reacted with both shock and outrage: a judge who sits the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toni Skarica.
The former Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP and Crown prosecutor was appointed to the bench in 2012 by former Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
Later on in the store, he passed by us, so I took the opportunity to opine in a rather loud voice: "What a disgrace. What kind of person wears a t-shirt like that?"
He ignored my comment, probably seeing it as a badge of honour for so bravely promoting his 'hero.' However, a young woman who heard me said, "It hurts my eyes to look at it."
And the point here is not that someone is promoting a racist and a demagogue - in our open society, that is permitted. What is not permitted, however, is for judges, who are required to be impartial and refrain from politics, among other restriction, to openly trumpet their support. Here is what the Canadian Superior Court Judges' Association has to say about judicial impartiality:
It is not enough for the judiciary, as an institution, to be independent - individual judges must be seen to be objective and impartial. In their personal lives, judges must avoid words, actions or situations that might make them appear to be biased or disrespectful of the laws they are sworn to uphold. They must treat lawyers, clients and witnesses with respect and must refrain from comments that suggest they have made up their minds in advance. Outside the courtroom, judges do not socialize or associate with lawyers or other persons connected with the cases they hear, or they may be accused of favouritism. Judges typically declare a conflict and withdraw from a case that involves relatives or friends. The same is true if the case involves a former client, a member of the judge's former law firm, law partners or a former business associate, at least until a year or two has passed since the judge was appointed and those ties were severed.Although I am not sure whether that ban on political involvement includes advocating for politicians in other countries, I am certain of the following:
Judges often choose to avoid most forms of community involvement. A judge may undertake community or charitable work but cannot offer legal or investment advice. Judges cannot take part in politics, either as a party member, fundraiser or donor, and many choose to relinquish their right to vote. While judges have been more willing in recent years to make public speeches or agree to media interviews, they refrain from expressing opinions on legal issues that could come before them in a future case. Judges are forbidden from being paid to do anything other than their judicial duties, but can accept appointments to serve on royal commissions, inquiries and other official investigations.
Justice Skarica, through his support of a candidate who has been shown to be a pathological liar, racist and demagogue, has raised very legitimate concerns about his judgement, his character, his values and, ultimately, his fitness to sit on the judiciary. I will be sending a letter of complaint about him tomorrow to the Canadian Judicial Council.