Federal Court of Appeal Overturns Refusal to Grant Federal Prosecutor Leave to Run for Elected Office :: Association of Justice Counsel News
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January 18th, 2017
January 18th, 2017

Federal Court of Appeal Overturns Refusal to Grant Federal Prosecutor Leave to Run for Elected Office

The AJC is pleased with the unanimous decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in A.G. v. Emilie Taman, a former AJC member and federal prosecutor. The court held that the Public Service Commission's (Commission) refusal to grant Ms. Taman an unpaid leave of absence to run as a candidate in the 2015 federal election was unreasonable.

Extracts taken from paragraphs 38, 44 and 45 of the judgment written by Justice Pelletier  stated:

"...[W]hile the Commission has identified autonomy, discretion and visibility as factors in its consideration of [political] impairment, it has not indicated how these factors led it to its ultimate conclusion. Ms. Taman's autonomy, discretion and visibility would have been the same before and after the election. [...]

The Commission appears to have taken to heart the DPP's concerns about prosecutorial independence. While the latter has a legitimate interest in the perceived independence of his office, the Commission was bound to examine his comments with care...

With all due respect to the opinion of the DPP, a respected public servant, it is not obvious that Ms. Taman's candidacy would have raised an issue of prosecutorial independence in this sense..."

The Federal Court of Appeal concluded that:

"...[t]he Commission has not justified its refusal to grant Ms. Taman permission to seek elected office. It relied on the factors listed in the PSEA without showing how the presence of those factors led to its conclusion. The Commission did not distinguish between actual impairment of Ms. Taman's ability to perform her duties in a politically impartial manner and a perception of impairment of her ability to do so. While this suggests a deficiency in the preparation of the Commission's reasons, it also suggests errors in reasoning which make the decision unreasonable. That is to say, the decision lacks justification, transparency and intelligibility."

The AJC is pleased to have supported Ms. Taman throughout her appeal and applauds the Federal Court of Appeal for reaching what we believe is the correct result. A link to the decision can be found here.

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