Mtre Martin Chalifour

Martin Chalifour: giving meaning to his profession

By Pierre-Luc Beauchesne, lawyer

(Article published on April 19, 2022)

Martin Chalifour: giving meaning to his profession At our Annual General Meeting on May 10, the Pierre Fournier Award will be presented to Martin Chalifour, who currently chairs the Bar of Montreal’s Offences Committee and is Chief Prosecutor of the Montreal Office of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP). In his practice and his involvement, Mtre Chalifour always strives to shine a light on and demystify the criminal judicial process and the important role that lawyers play in it.

A member of the Quebec Bar since 2003, Martin Chalifour has always practiced within the DPCP. After his law studies at the Université de Montréal, he knew he wanted to become a Crown prosecutor when he heard the press briefings of the trial of boxer Dave Hilton, who was accused of sexual assault: “The comments of the Crown lawyer in charge of the case, Hélène Di Salvo, who is now a Superior Court judge, gave me a good understanding of the prosecutor’s role as a representative of justice and how useful this work is for society. It was then that I realised that I needed to serve a cause and do work that had meaning and touched on social issues.

At the very beginning of his practice, Mtre Chalifour wanted to do a bit of everything and not specialize in any one area. After a few years, he joined the Organized Crime Bureau and, from 2009 to 2013, he was part of the large team of prosecutors assigned to the SharQc trial. Subsequently, he worked on long-term projects involving skilled and sophisticated groups of thieves (including the MASTOR and MÉSANGE projects) and on landmark cases, such as the trial of pimp Yevgeny Mataev. For 18 months, he was Chief Appeals Prosecutor before becoming Chief Prosecutor of the Montreal Office in 2019. Today, he leads a team of 120 prosecutors and is involved in important decisions that have an institutional impact on the DPCP. Conscious and mindful of his role, he ensures that the DPCP does its work in the public interest and that the criminal process is as fair as possible for all.

Involvement has always been a significant part of Mtre Chalifour's career path. During his law studies at the Université de Montréal, he was very active in student activism and sat on the Fédération étudiante du campus de l'Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM) Executive Committee. Succeeding none other than Sonia Lebel, he has chaired the Bar of Montreal Offences Committee since 2018. At the heart of the Bar's mission, which is protecting the public, the Executive Committee reviews complaints of illegal practice of the profession and makes appropriate recommendations to the Board. In other words, the Offences Committee tries to unmask fake lawyers who abuse people who are often vulnerable.

Mtre Chalifour is also involved in other Bar of Montreal committees. Since 2019, he has been a member of the Administration of Justice in Criminal Matters Committee, which seeks to resolve the difficulties often faced by the many stakeholders in criminal justice administration. Last year, he also participated in the Salon VISEZ DROIT (click here to listen to Mtre Chalifour’s discussion on the role of the DPCP and criminal judicial process). During his career, Martin Chalifour has also given many training sessions and conferences, notably as part of the Rendez-vous Poursuivant-Défense organized by the Barreau du Québec: “The Crown and the defence are components of the balance for which the scales of justice stand. Although they represent opposing interests, both prosecutors and defenders have the same values and advocate for fair justice based on the public interest.

Mtre Chalifour is a proud spokesperson for his profession and is driven by the desire to make it shine and make the role of the lawyer better known. Above all, in all spheres of his professional life, he seeks to promote the values of fair justice for all.

The Pierre Fournier Award is presented each year to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the Bar of Montreal and its activities. To see the list of recipients since its inception in 1992, click here.