According to a respected Alberta judge with extensive experience, it is of utmost importance that all Canadians feel represented and understood within the justice system, in order to maintain trust in its processes. This insight comes from Judge Mary Moreau, the seasoned chief justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, as she has been nominated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a role in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Prior to her 29-year tenure with the Alberta court, Moreau whetted her judicial acumen with extensive work across civil, criminal and constitutional cases in her hometown of Edmonton. She has significant experience, not only at home but abroad, through her participation in educational venues, judicial ethics pursuits, and court modernization. Her linguistic dexterity is exhibited in her fluency in both French and English.
In 1996, she expanded her responsibilities when named a deputy judge of the Supreme Court of Yukon, and the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories in 2005. Her career’s track record and dedication to upholding justice were acknowledged by Prime Minister Trudeau as he exalted, “Chief Justice Moreau’s addition to our country’s highest court is invaluable.”
Should Moreau receive confirmation for her nomination, it would indeed be a historic moment as, for the first time in 148 years, a majority of the nine-member Supreme Court would be constituted of women. Moreau, in her application for the Supreme Court, highlighted her contributions to ameliorate access to justice in both national languages and stressed, “All Canadians should be able to see themselves reflected in their justice system in order to have faith in it.”
She further emphasized that judges should always strive to broaden their understanding of the societal and legal landscapes to ensure fairness and dignity for all, and to rigorously challenge ingrained myths and stereotypes. She attested to the enriching influence of French-Canadian culture through literature, music and traditional festivals on her life growing up in Western Canada and recognized the significance of her language and culture in shaping her identity and sense of belonging.
Throughout her illustrious career, Moreau has handled a variety of complex legal issues including the language obligations of governments, application of scientific evidence, and the role of mediation in divorce proceedings. She was involved in handling a high-profile case concerning Omar Khadr, a Canadian detained as a minor at a U.S military base in Guantanamo Bay before being repatriated to Canada.
The vacancy in the Supreme Court came in the wake of Justice Russell Brown stepping down amidst a Canadian Judicial Council investigation into allegations of misconduct, which he refutes. The selection process for Moreau’s nomination will involve the House of Commons standing committee on justice and human rights, augmented by a special committee hearing to glean more about Moreau.
Justice Minister Arif Virani and Wade MacLauchlan, the chair of the independent advisory board for Supreme Court appointments, are poised to address the committee, followed by a Q&A session with Moreau. The entire process is aimed at fostering transparency and ensuring governmental accountability for the selections. The Prime Minister will consider the justice committee’s views before finalizing the appointment.
John Stefaniuk, President of the Canadian Bar Association, alongside numerous others in the legal community, have expressed their approval of Moreau’s nomination. Quoting Stefaniuk, “Justice Moreau’s nomination represents an important step forward for gender equality,” and he asserts that Moreau will be a tremendous asset to the Supreme Court of Canada.