Canadian Judicial Council completes its review of complaints against the Honourable Kristine Eidsvik

Ottawa, 10 April 2018– The Canadian Judicial Council has completed its review of the conduct of the Honourable Kristine M. Eidsvik. Council received four complaints from students regarding comments made in the context of a course given by judge Eidsvik that were perceived as racist and insensitive to visible minorities. Upon reviewing all the information regarding this matter, Council concluded that this is an isolated incident and that no further measures need be taken.

The facts may be summarized as follows. On 4 January 2018, Justice Eidsvik was giving a lecture on negotiation to law students during which she made certain remarks which led to complaints.

On the day following the incident, Justice Eidsvik promptly met with the class; she apologized for her comments and expressed her regrets. She also met personally with some of the students and a representative of the Black Law Students Association of Canada to further express her regrets. Justice Eidsvik then resigned from her position as “Judge-in-Residence” at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law. Additionally, Justice Eidsvik undertook, on her own initiative, a course of readings and study on cultural diversity and participated in a course on cultural competence for judges.

As noted in Ethical Principles for Judges, “judges should strive to ensure that their conduct is such that any reasonable, fair minded and informed member of the public would justifiably have confidence in the impartiality of the judge. Judges should avoid comments, expressions, gestures or behaviour which reasonably may be interpreted as showing insensitivity to or disrespect for anyone. Examples include irrelevant comments based on racial, cultural, sexual or other stereotypes and other conduct implying that persons before the court will not be afforded equal consideration and respect.”

The Honourable Christopher E. Hinkson, Vice-Chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee of Council, carefully reviewed the complaints. He considered publicly available information and sought comments from the judge.

Upon reviewing all the information regarding this matter, including the steps Justice Eidsvik has taken of her own accord to make amends and learn from this incident, Chief Justice Hinkson concluded that this is an isolated incident and it is not necessary to take further action. He expressed the view that the judge’s actions, taken in context, make clear she does not harbour racist views.

The judge’s comments were nonetheless injudicious and Chief Justice Hinkson expressed his concerns to the judge about the effect of her comments on the public’s perception of the judiciary. The complainants were advised of Council’s decision that the matter did not require further action.

Contact:
Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
(613) 288-1566 ext 313