18 October 2011

Welcome to the new Supremes

Finally, the Prime Minister has filled the gaps in the Supreme Court and seemingly with good choices: Justice Andromache Karakatsanis and Justice Michael Moldaver, both from the Ontario Court of Appeal. Politically, the two justices are considered small-c conservative, not surprising for a Conservative Prime Minister.

Justice Karakatsanis, called to the bar in 1982, has practiced criminal, civil and family litigation. She was appointed a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2002, presiding in all areas of the work of the court, and a judge of the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 2010. Before becoming a judge she gained considerable experience in the public service, not a bad field of expertise to bring to the Court. Her various duties for the Ontario government included serving as Deputy Attorney General, as Secretary of the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat, and as Chief Executive Officer of the Liquor Licence Board.

Justice Moldaver, a Gold Medalist graduate of the University of Toronto, was appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario in 1990 and to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1995. He has lectured at the University of Toronto Law School and has held a variety of other prestigious positions in the legal and academic communities. One quibble about Justice Moldaver may be that he doesn't speak French.

The selection process was thorough. The Prime Minister and the Justice Minister consulted with the legal community to draw up a list of candidates which was then scrutinized by a selection panel that included MPs from all parties. (In accordance with the Supreme Court Act, the Prime Minister may only appoint a person who has either been a judge of a superior court or has been a barrister or advocate with at least 10 years standing at the bar.) The panel, which reviewed past judgments by the candidates and consulted with prominent members of Ontario's legal community, drew up a short list of six candidates for the Prime Minister's final selections. Apparently, the panel's short list was unanimous among all parties.

The Prime Minister has also maintained the gender balance on the court, not a bad thing either. Altogether, two worthy choices.

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