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Justice Robin Camp: Lawyer Argues Firing Judge Would Be 'The Easy Thing' To Do

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CALGARY — The lawyer for a federal judge who asked a sexual assault complainant why she couldn't keep her knees together says firing Robin Camp would be "the easy thing'' to do.

In closing submissions Monday, Frank Addario argued removing Camp from the bench would not be the most effective way to correct widespread knowledge gaps around sexual assault.

Camp had an education problem and not a character problem and has gone to great lengths to learn about the issue, Addario said. Removing Camp would send the wrong message to other judges who seek to improve themselves, he said.

"The easy thing for the committee to do is remove Justice Camp. It sends a simple message to equality seekers, frustrated by decades of slow progress in changing attitudes,'' Addario wrote in his closing submissions filed to the panel Monday.

"The easy thing for the committee to do is remove Justice Camp ... but it is not the most effective result.'" —Frank Addario

"It responds to the calls for the judiciary to separate themselves from this individual and make a statement that Canadian judges are 'better than this.' But it is not the most effective result. Nor is it the result that will most improve long-term public confidence in the judiciary.''

Addario argued that Camp is not alone in the judiciary in having a "knowledge deficit'' around the issue of sexual assault.

"The social problem is ubiquitous. The effect on the judiciary of the social problem is likewise widespread. It is not realistic to imagine that a Parliamentary decision removing His Honour will correct all knowledge deficits.''

Camp has apologized for his "rude and insulting'' attitude toward the 19-year-old woman when he was a provincial court judge in 2014.

robin camp
Justice Robin Camp takes a seat at his hearing. (Photo: CP)

Court transcripts from the sexual assault trial show he told the woman that "pain and sex sometimes go together'' and referred to her as "the accused'' — a mistake he repeated during the disciplinary hearing before quickly correcting himself.

The verdict was overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered.

Presenting counsel Marjorie Hickey said the case is about whether public confidence can be maintained if Camp stays on the bench. She acknowledged the threshold for removal is high and is a seldom-exercised option.

She sought to poke holes in Camp's argument that he was ignorant.

"Justice Camp knew the law,'' she told the panel, yet his attitudes "shone through in a pervasive and glaring manner.''

'Boys will be boys' mentality

Some of Camp's commentary during the trial "smacks of paternalism and sexism'' and reflects a "boys will be boys'' mentality, she said.

But she said there are some mitigating factors that should be taken into account, such as the judge's apology, the fact he did not have any formal training before the case and that he participated in remedial training once issues were raised.

"This isn't a case of someone who turned a blind eye.''

The panel will forward its recommendation to the full Canadian Judicial Council, which will then make a final recommendation to the federal justice minister.

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