The Honorable R. Michel Bourassa


A graduate of Queens University Law School, Michel practiced law for 10 years in Kingston, Ontario, focusing on litigation. Appointed to the Territorial Court Bench in 1982 Michel moved to Yellowknife Northwest Territories where he presided in Territorial Court across the Canadian Arctic adjudicating a wide variety of civil, criminal and environmental prosecutions.

Over the years on the Bench Michel has heard and assessed literally thousands of witnesses and dealt with skilled counsel from across Canada.

To further his interest in the underpinnings of law and trials, Michel attended a semester at Simon Fraser University, School of Criminology in 1989 as a Scholar in Residence. He used the opportunity to focus on witness perception, critical thought and the dynamics of witness recall. He has participated as a speaker/panelist on Environmental Law issues and advocacy at a variety of venues including Mexico City.

Appointed Chief Judge in 2001 Michel continued to promote courtroom skills and offered advocacy training for counsel for the NWT Bar and began to participate in the Continuing Legal Education program of the BC Law Society as well as for the Public prosecutions Services of Canada. Outside mainstream Law Courts, he worked with the NWT Workman’s Compensation Board Appeal tribunal to develop critical thinking skills and tribunal hearing management.

In 1985 Michel was invited to participate in an annual training program of the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans for its experts, Fisheries Officers and technicians. Sharing a common concern with John Cliffe QC and seeing a need for a form of witnesses training and preparation and based on mutual experience that too many witnesses with important evidence to provide the court were falling for or ensnared by common tactics and strategies used by opposing counsel. The need for a specialized course was identified, developed and honed over the years to prepare those law enforcement officials called upon to testify in court.