Judges in Canada are not elected. Appointments to Justice Zabel’s court are made by a nonpartisan, 13-member committee. Judges are not allowed to donate to political parties or participate in any political activities.
During its hearings, the council heard that when Justice Zabel was heading into court in Hamilton, Ontario, while wearing his cap, another judge asked him, “Are you out of your mind?”
Once on the bench, according to court transcripts, he said his cap was “in celebration of a historic night in the United States. Unprecedented.”
Justice Zabel left his hat in his chambers during the afternoon session. But when it ended, the court papers said, he said to a prosecutor that the hat’s “brief appearance” was meant to annoy the rest of the judges because he thought they were Clinton supporters. “I was the only Trump supporter up there, but that’s O.K.,” he said.
The council said many Canadians found Mr. Trump’s views “on women, racialized minorities, and other vulnerable groups to be highly offensive” and believed that his policies were “contrary to Canada’s interests and contrary to basic Canadian values.”
It added, “For a judge to appear to endorse Trump’s views would be perceived by the public to be an expression of opinion on issues of profound importance to Canadians.”
The council received 81 complaints about Justice Zabel, including one signed by 27 faculty members of the law school at the University of Windsor in Ontario, which the justice had attended.
Kim Stanton, the legal director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, one of the complainants, said, “a reprimand and suspension is an appropriate acknowledgment that Justice Zabel’s action had an adverse impact upon public confidence in the judiciary. “
Justice Zabel’s lawyer, Giulia B. Gambacorta, said her client was “anxious to get back to work.”