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The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC; french: Cour suprême du Canada, ''CSC'') is the
highest court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, en ...

highest court
in the
judicial system The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government i ...
of
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
. It comprises nine justices, whose decisions are the ultimate application of
Canadian law The legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, ...
, and grants permission to between 40 and 75
litigant A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil ...
s each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal
appellate courts An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the Eng ...
. The Supreme Court is bijural, hearing cases from two major legal traditions (
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
and
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified wh ...
) and bilingual, hearing cases in both
official languages of Canada The official language An official language is a language given a special status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its g ...
(
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication use ...

English
and
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of co ...

French
). The effects of any judicial decision on the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
, on the interpretation of statutes, or on any other application of law, can, in effect, be nullified by legislation, unless the particular decision of the court in question involves application of the
Canadian Constitution The Constitution of Canada (french: Constitution du Canada) is the supreme law in Canada. It outlines Canada's system of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state ...
, in which case, the decision (in most cases) is completely binding on the legislative branch. This is especially true of decisions which touch upon the ''
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms The ''Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms'' (french: La Charte canadienne des droits et libertés), often simply referred to as the ''Charter'' in Canada, is a bill of rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights ...
'', which cannot be altered by the legislative branch unless the decision is overridden pursuant to section 33 (the "
notwithstanding clause Section 33 of the ''Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms The ''Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms'' (french: La Charte canadienne des droits et libertés), often simply referred to as the ''Charter'' in Canada, is a bill of rights ...
").


History

The creation of the Supreme Court of Canada was provided for by the ''
British North America Act, 1867 The ''Constitution Act, 1867'The Constitution Act, 1867'', 30 & 31 Victoria (U.K.), c. 3, http://canlii.ca/t/ldsw retrieved on 2019-03-14. (french: Loi constitutionnelle de 1867, originally enacted as ''The British North America Act, 1867 ...

British North America Act, 1867
'', renamed in 1982 the ''
Constitution Act, 1867 The ''Constitution Act, 1867'The Constitution Act, 1867'', 30 & 31 Victoria (U.K.), c. 3, http://canlii.ca/t/ldsw retrieved on 2019-03-14. (french: Loi constitutionnelle de 1867, originally enacted as ''The British North America Act, 1867 ...
''. The first bills for the creation of a federal supreme court, introduced in the
Parliament of Canada The Parliament of Canada (french: Parlement du Canada) is the federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of gov ...

Parliament of Canada
in 1869 and in 1870, were withdrawn. It was not until 8 April 1875 that a bill was finally passed providing for the creation of a Supreme Court of Canada. However, prior to 1949, the Supreme Court did not constitute the
court of last resort The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ...
: litigants could appeal to the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), somet ...
in London. Some cases could bypass the Supreme Court and go directly to the Judicial Committee from the provincial courts of appeal. The Supreme Court formally became the court of last resort for criminal appeals in 1933 and for all other appeals in 1949. The last decisions of the Judicial Committee on cases from Canada were made in the mid-1950s, for cases that had first been heard in a court of first instance prior to 1949. The increase in the importance of the Supreme Court was mirrored by the numbers of its members; it was established first with six judges, and these were augmented by an additional member in 1927. In 1949, the bench reached its current composition of nine justices. Prior to 1949, most of the appointees to the court owed their position to political
patronage Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows on another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings, popes, and the wealthy have provided to artists su ...

patronage
. Each judge had strong ties to the party in power at the time of their appointment. In 1973, the appointment of a constitutional law professor
Bora Laskin Bora Laskin, (October 5, 1912 – March 26, 1984) was a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and terri ...
as chief justice represented a major turning point for the court. Increasingly in this period, appointees either came from academic backgrounds or were well-respected practitioners with several years experience in appellate courts. Laskin's federalist and liberal views were shared by
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
Pierre Trudeau Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau ( , ; October 18, 1919 – September 28, 2000), also referred to by his initials PET, was a Canadian politician who served as the 15th prime minister of Canada The prime minister of Canada ...

Pierre Trudeau
, who recommended Laskin's appointment to the court. The ''
Constitution Act, 1982 The ''Constitution Act, 1982'' (french: link=no, Loi constitutionnelle de 1982) is a part of the Constitution of Canada The Constitution of Canada (french: Constitution du Canada) is the supreme law of Canada, law in Canada. It outlines C ...
'', greatly expanded the role of the court in Canadian society by the addition of the ''Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms'', which greatly broadened the scope of judicial review. The evolution from the Dickson court (1984–90) through to the Lamer court (1990–2000) witnessed a continuing vigour in the protection of civil liberties. Lamer's criminal law background proved an influence on the number of criminal cases heard by the Court during his time as chief justice. Nonetheless, the Lamer court was more conservative with ''Charter'' rights, with only about a 1% success rate for ''Charter'' claimants. Lamer was succeeded as the chief justice by
Beverley McLachlin Beverley Marian McLachlin (born September 7, 1943) is a Canadian jurist and author who served as the 17th Chief Justice of Canada, chief justice of Canada from 2000 to 2017, the longest-serving chief justice in Canadian history and first woma ...

Beverley McLachlin
in January 2000. She was the first woman to hold that position. McLachlin's appointment resulted in a more centrist and unified court. Dissenting and concurring opinions were fewer than during the Dickson and Lamer courts. With the 2005 appointments of puisne justices
Louise Charron Louise Charron, (born March 2, 1951) is a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, t ...
and
Rosalie Abella Rosalie Silberman Abella (born July 1, 1946) is a Canadians, Canadian jurist. In 2004, Abella was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, becoming the first Jews, Jewish woman and refugee to sit on the Canadian Supreme Court bench. She retire ...
, the court became the world's most gender-balanced national high court with four of its nine members being female. Justice
Marie Deschamps Marie Deschamps, PC CC (born October 2, 1952 in Repentigny, Quebec Repentigny () is an off-island suburb of Montreal, Quebec Montreal ( ; officially Montréal, ) is the second-most populous city in Canada Canada is a country in t ...
' retirement on 7 August 2012 caused the number to fall to three; however, the appointment of Suzanne Côté on 1 December 2014 restored the number to four. After serving on the court for ( as chief justice), McLachlin retired in December 2017. Her successor as the chief justice is
Richard Wagner Wilhelm Richard Wagner ( ; ; 22 May 181313 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or ...
. Along with the
German Federal Constitutional Court The Federal Constitutional Court (german: Bundesverfassungsgericht; abbreviated: ') is the supreme court, supreme constitutional court for the Germany, Federal Republic of Germany, established by the constitution or Basic Law for the Federal ...
and the
European Court of Human Rights The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR or ECtHR), also known as the Strasbourg Court, is an international court International courts are formed by treaties A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in intern ...

European Court of Human Rights
, the Supreme Court of Canada is one of the three most frequently cited courts in the world.


Canadian judiciary

The structure of the
Canadian court system The court system of Canada forms the judicial branch of government, formally known as "The Queen on the Bench", which interprets the law and is made up of many courts differing in levels of legal superiority and separated by jurisdiction. Some of ...
is pyramidal, a broad base being formed by the various provincial and territorial courts whose judges are appointed by the provincial or territorial governments. At the next level are the provincial and territorial superior trial courts, where judges are appointed by the federal government. Judgments from the superior courts may be appealed to a still higher level, the provincial or territorial superior courts of appeal. Several federal courts also exist: the
Tax CourtTax courts are court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of justice in Civil law (co ...
, the
Federal Court Federal court may refer to: United States * Federal judiciary of the United States ** United States district court, a particular federal court Elsewhere * Federal Court of Australia * Federal courts of Brazil * Federal Court (Canada) * Federal Cou ...
, the
Federal Court of Appeal The Federal Court of Appeal (french: Cour d'appel fédérale) is a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces a ...
, and the Court Martial Appeal Court. Unlike the provincial superior courts, which exercise inherent or general
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
, the jurisdiction of federal courts and provincially appointed provincial courts are limited by statute. In all, there are over 1,000 federally appointed judges at various levels across Canada.


Appellate process

The Supreme Court rests at the apex of the judicial pyramid. This institution hears appeals from the provincial courts of last resort, usually the provincial or territorial courts of appeal, and the Federal Court of Appeal, although in some matters appeals come straight from the trial courts, as in the case of
publication ban A publication ban is a court order which prohibits the public or media from disseminating certain details of an otherwise open court principle, public judicial proceeding. In Canada, publication bans are most commonly issued when the safety or rep ...
s and other orders that are otherwise not appealable. In most cases, permission to appeal must first be obtained from the court. Motions for
leave to appeal In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed by a higher authority, where parties request a formal change to an official decision. Appeals function both as a process for error correction as well as a process of clarifying an ...
to the court are generally heard by a panel of three of its judges and a simple majority is determinative. By convention, this panel never explains why it grants or refuses leave in any particular case, but the court typically hears cases of national importance or where the case allows it to settle an important issue of law. Leave is rarely granted, meaning that for most litigants, provincial courts of appeal are courts of last resort. But leave to appeal is not required for some cases, primarily criminal cases in which at least one appellate judge (on the relevant provincial court of appeal) dissented on a point of law, and appeals from provincial
references Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object. The first object in this relation is said to ''refer to'' the second object. It is called a ''name ...
. A final source of cases is the referral power of the federal government. In such cases, the Supreme Court is required to give an opinion on questions referred to it by the Governor in Council (the
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
). However, in many cases, including the most recent same-sex marriage reference, the Supreme Court has declined to answer a question from the Cabinet. In that case, the court said it would not decide if
same-sex marriage Same-sex marriage, also known as gay marriage, is the marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spo ...
s were required by the ''Charter of Rights and Freedoms'', because the government had announced it would change the law regardless of its opinion, and subsequently did.


Constitutional interpretation

The Supreme Court thus performs a unique function. It can be asked by the Governor-in-Council to hear references considering important questions of law. Such referrals may concern the constitutionality or interpretation of federal or provincial legislation, or the
division of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict ...
between federal and provincial spheres of government. Any point of law may be referred in this manner. However, the Court is not often called upon to hear references. References have been used to re-examine criminal convictions that have concerned the country as in the cases of
David Milgaard David Milgaard (born July 7, 1952) is a Canadian who was wrongful conviction, wrongfully convicted for the 1969 rape and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller. He was released and compensated after spending 23 years in prison. He was born in Winn ...
and
Steven Truscott Steven Murray Truscott (born January 18, 1945) is a Canadians, Canadian man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1959 for the rape and murder of classmate Lynne Harper. Truscott had been the last known person to see her alive. He w ...
. The Supreme Court has the ultimate power of
judicial review Judicial review is a process under which executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, ...
over Canadian federal and provincial laws' constitutional validity. If a federal or provincial law has been held contrary to the division of power provisions of one of the various constitution acts, the legislature or parliament must either live with the result, amend the law so that it complies, or obtain an amendment to the constitution. If a law is declared contrary to certain sections of the ''Charter of Rights and Freedoms'', Parliament or the provincial legislatures may make that particular law temporarily valid again against by using the "override power" of the
notwithstanding clause Section 33 of the ''Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms The ''Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms'' (french: La Charte canadienne des droits et libertés), often simply referred to as the ''Charter'' in Canada, is a bill of rights ...
. In one case, the
Quebec National Assembly The National Assembly of Quebec (officially in french: link=no, Assemblée nationale) is the legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly ...
invoked this power to override a Supreme Court decision (''
Ford v Quebec (AG) ''Ford v Quebec (AG)'', 988 Year 988 (Roman numerals, CMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. Events By place Byzantine Empire * Fall – Emperor Basil II, su ...
'') that held that one of Quebec's language laws banning the display of English commercial signs was inconsistent with the ''Charter''. Saskatchewan has also used it to uphold its labour laws. This override power can be exercised for five years, after which time the override must be renewed or the decision comes into force. In some cases, the court may stay the effect of its judgments so that unconstitutional laws continue in force for a period of time. Usually, this is done to give Parliament or a legislature sufficient time to enact a new replacement scheme of legislation. For example, in ''
Reference Re Manitoba Language Rights #REDIRECT Reference Re Manitoba Language Rights ''Reference Re Manitoba Language Rights,'' 9851 S.C.R. 721, was a reference question In Canada, Canadian Law of Canada, law, a reference question or reference case (formally called abstract review) ...
'', the court struck down Manitoba's laws because they were not enacted in the French language, as required by the Constitution. However, the Court stayed its judgment for five years to give Manitoba time to re-enact all its legislation in French. It turned out five years was insufficient so the court was asked, and agreed, to give more time. Constitutional questions may, of course, also be raised in the normal case of appeals involving individual litigants, governments, government agencies or
Crown corporation A state-owned enterprise (SOE) or government-owned enterprise (GOE) is a business enterprise Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). Simp ...
s. In such cases the federal and provincial governments must be notified of any constitutional questions and may intervene to submit a brief and attend
oral argument Oral arguments are spoken presentations to a judge or appellate court by a lawyer (or parties when representing themselves) of the law, legal reasons why they should prevail. Oral argument at the appellate level accompanies written brief (law), bri ...
at the court. Usually the other governments are given the right to argue their case in the court, although on rare occasions this has been curtailed and prevented by order of one of the court's judges.


Sessions

The Supreme Court sits for 18 weeks of the year beginning the first Monday of October and usually runs until the end of June and sometimes into July. Hearings only take place in
Ottawa Ottawa (, ; Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or all) of these connections exist and are ...

Ottawa
, although litigants can present oral arguments from remote locations by means of a video-conference system. Hearings are open to the public. Most hearings are taped for delayed telecast in both of Canada's official languages. When in session, the court sits Monday to Friday, hearing two appeals a day. A quorum consists of five members for appeals, but a panel of nine justices hears most cases. On the bench, the
chief justice of Canada The chief justice of Canada (french: juge en chef du Canada) is the presiding judge A chief judge (also known as chief justice, presiding judge, president judge or administrative judge) is the highest-ranking or most senior member of a court or ...
or, in his or her absence, the senior
puisne Puisne (; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from G ...
justice, presides from the centre chair with the other justices seated to his or her right and left by order of seniority of appointment. At sittings, the justices usually appear in black silk robes but they wear their ceremonial robes of bright scarlet trimmed with Canadian white mink in court on special occasions and in the Senate at the opening of each new session of Parliament. Counsel appearing before the court may use either English or French. The judges can also use either English or French. There is simultaneous translation available to the judges, counsel and to members of the public who are in the audience. The decision of the court is sometimes – but rarely – rendered orally at the conclusion of the hearing. In these cases, the court may simply refer to the decision of the court below to explain its own reasons. In other cases, the court may announce its decision at the conclusion of the hearing, with reasons to follow. As well, in some cases, the court may not call on counsel for the respondent, if it has not been convinced by the arguments of counsel for the appellant. In very rare cases, the court may not call on counsel for the appellant and instead calls directly on counsel for the respondent. However, in most cases, the court hears from all counsel and then reserves judgment to enable the justices to write considered reasons. Decisions of the court need not be unanimous – a majority may decide, with dissenting reasons given by the minority. Each justice may write reasons in any case if he or she chooses to do so. A puisne justice of the Supreme Court is
referred to
referred to
as ''The
Honourable The prefix The Honourable (or The Honorable in the United States and the Philippines), abbreviated to The Hon., Hon., or The Hon'ble, is an honorific Style (manner of address), style that is used before the names of certain classes of people ...
Mr/Madam Justice'' and the chief justice as ''
Right Honourable The Right Honourable (abbreviation: The Rt Hon. or Rt Hon.) is an honorific Style (form of address), style traditionally applied to certain persons and collective bodies in the United Kingdom, the former British Empire and the Commonwealth of Nat ...
''. At one time, judges were addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady" during sessions of the court, but it has since discouraged this style of address and has directed lawyers to use the simpler "Justice", "Mr Justice" or "Madam Justice". The designation "My Lord/My Lady" continues in many provincial superior courts and in the Federal Court of Canada and Federal Court of Appeal, where it is optional. Every four years, the
Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission The Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission is a Canadian commission that recommends judicial salaries for federally appointed judges. The commission was created in 1999 by the government of Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier ...
makes recommendations to the federal government about the salaries for federally appointed judges, including the judges of the Supreme Court. That recommendation is not legally binding on the federal government, but the federal government is generally required to comply with the recommendation unless there is a very good reason to not do so. The chief justice receives $370,300 while the puisne justices receive $342,800 annually.


Appointment of justices

Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada are appointed on the advice of the prime minister. The provinces and Parliament of Canada have no formal role in such appointments, sometimes a point of contention. The ''
Supreme Court Act The ''Supreme Court Act'' (the ''Act'') is an Act passed by the Parliament of Canada The Parliament of Canada (french: Parlement du Canada) is the Canadian federalism, federal legislature of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and is ...
'' limits eligibility for appointment to persons who have been judges of a superior court or members of the
bar Bar or BAR may refer to: Food *Bar (establishment) A bar is a long raised narrow table or bench designed for dispensing beer or other alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drinks. They were originally chest high, and a bar, often brass, ran the len ...
for ten or more years. Members of the bar or superior judiciary of Quebec, by law, must hold three of the nine positions on the Supreme Court of Canada. This is justified on the basis that Quebec uses
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified wh ...
, rather than
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
, as in the rest of the country. As explained in the reasons in '' Reference Re Supreme Court Act, ss. 5 and 6'', sitting judges of the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal cannot be appointed to any of Quebec's three seats. By convention, the remaining six positions are divided in the following manner: three from Ontario; two from the western provinces, typically one from British Columbia and one from the prairie provinces, which rotate among themselves (although Alberta is known to cause skips in the rotation); and one from the Atlantic provinces, almost always from Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. In 2006, an interview phase by an committee of members of Parliament was added. Justice
Marshall Rothstein Marshall Rothstein (born December 25, 1940) is a former Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Early life Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Jewish parents who immigrated from Eastern Europe, he received a Bachelor of Commerce in 1962 and an ...
became the first justice to undergo the new process. The prime minister still has the final say on who becomes the candidate that is recommended to the governor general for appointment to the court. The government proposed an interview phase again in 2008, but a general election and minority parliament intervened with delays such that the Prime Minister recommended Justice Cromwell after consulting the
leader of the Opposition The leader of the opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest party not in government in a parliamentary democracy. The leader of the opposition is seen as the alternative prime minister, premi ...
. As of August 2016, Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau Justin Pierre James Trudeau (; , born December 25, 1971) is a Canadian politician who is the 23rd and current Prime Minister of Canada, prime minister of Canada since November 2015 and the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Liberal Part ...

Justin Trudeau
opened the process of application to change from the above-noted appointment process. Under the revised process, "
ny
ny
Canadian lawyer or judge who fits specified criteria can apply for a seat on the Supreme Court, through the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs." Functional bilingualism is now a requirement. Justices hold office during good behaviour, which formerly meant
life tenure A life tenure or service during good behaviour is a term of office A term of office is the length of time a person serves in a particular elected office An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate Mandate most often refers ...
, however, since 1927, justices may sit on the bench until they reach the
mandatory retirement Mandatory retirement also known as forced retirement, enforced retirement or compulsory retirement, is the set age at which people who hold certain jobs or offices are required by industry custom or by law to leave their employment, or retire ...
age of 75. Justices may be removed on address of the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...

Senate
and
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...
.


Current members

The current chief justice of Canada is
Richard Wagner Wilhelm Richard Wagner ( ; ; 22 May 181313 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or ...
. He was appointed to the court as a puisne judge on 5 October 2012 and appointed chief justice, 18 December 2017. The nine justices of the Wagner Court are:


Notes


Length of tenure

The following graphical timeline depicts the length of each current justice's tenure on the Supreme Court (not their position in the court's order of precedence) as of . Among the current justices, Michael Moldaver and Andromache Karakatsanis share the distinction of having the longest tenure, each, as they were both appointed puisne justice on the same day in October 2011. Richard Wagner's cumulative tenure is — as puisne justice, and as chief justice. Mahmud Jamal has the briefest tenure, having been appointed ago. The length of tenure for the other justices are: Suzanne Côté, ; Russell Brown, ; Malcom Rowe, ; Sheilah Martin, ; and Nicholas Kasirer, .


Rules of the court

The ''Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada'' are located on th
laws-lois.justice.gc.ca
website, as well as in the
Canada Gazette The ''Canada Gazette'' (french: Gazette du Canada) is the official government gazette A government gazette (also known as an official gazette, official journal, official newspaper, official monitor or official bulletin) is a periodical publ ...
, as SOR/2002-216 (plus amendments), made pursuant to subsection 97(1) of the ''Supreme Court Act''. Fees and taxes are stipulated near the end.


Law clerks

Since 1967, the court has hired law clerks to assist in legal research. Between 1967 and 1982, each puisne justice was assisted by one law clerk and the chief justice had two. From 1982, the number was increased to two law clerks for each justice. Currently, each justice has up to four law clerks. Law clerks conduct research, draft bench memoranda, and assist in drafting judgments, as well as any other research duties assigned by the law clerk's judge such as drafting speeches or articles. Law clerks are usually newly-trained lawyers who have been both admitted to the bar in their respective provinces and completed their articles. Clerkships at the Supreme Court are prestigious positions within the Canadian legal community and are highly competitive, with each position receiving thousands of applications. Successful applicants usually have an excellent academic record and prior service on law reviews/journals during law school, along with an extensive record of legal publications. Akin to the United States, former Supreme Court clerks are highly sought after by private law firms for their rare experience, with many earning a substantial signing bonus above regular associates.


Building

The Supreme Court of Canada Building (french: L’édifice de la Cour suprême du Canada), located just west of
Parliament Hill Parliament Hill (french: Colline du Parlement), colloquially known as The Hill, is an area of Crown land on the southern banks of the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, Ontario , Label_map = yes , image_map = O ...

Parliament Hill
at 301
Wellington StreetWellington Street may refer to: *Wellington Street (Ottawa), Ontario, Canada *Wellington Street, Hong Kong *Wellington Street, London, England *Wellington Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada *Wellington Street, Perth, Australia *Wellington Street (Hami ...
on a bluff high above the
Ottawa River The Ottawa River (french: Rivière des Outaouais, Algonquin Algonquin or Algonquian—and the variation Algonki(a)n—may refer to: Indigenous peoples *Algonquian languages, a large subfamily of Native American languages in a wide swath of ...
in
downtown Ottawa Downtown Ottawa (french: Centre-Ville d'Ottawa) is the central area of Ottawa Ottawa (, ; Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical o ...

downtown Ottawa
, is home to the Supreme Court of Canada. It also contains two courtrooms used by the Federal Court and the
Federal Court of Appeal The Federal Court of Appeal (french: Cour d'appel fédérale) is a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces a ...
. The building was designed by
Ernest Cormier Ernest Cormier, OC (December 5, 1885 – January 1, 1980) was a Canadian engineer and architect. He spent much of his career in the Montreal Montreal ( ; officially Montréal, ) is the second-most populous city in Canada C ...

Ernest Cormier
. The building is known for its
Art Deco Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Gr ...

Art Deco
decorative details, including two candelabrum-style fluted metal lamp standards that flank the entrance, and the marble walls and floors of the grand interior lobby contrasting with the
châteauesque Châteauesque (or Francis IFrancis I or Francis the First may refer to: * Francesco I Gonzaga (1366–1407) * Francis I, Duke of Brittany (1414–1450), reigned 1442–1450 * Francis I of France (1494–1547), reigned 1515–1547 * Francis I ...
roof. Construction began in 1939, with the cornerstone laid by , consort to King
George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom There have been 12 monarchy of the United Kingdom, British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England an ...

George VI
and later known as the Queen Mother. The court began hearing cases in the new building by January 1946. In 2000, it was named by the
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) is a not-for-profit, national organization that has represented Architect, architects and architecture for over 100 years, in existence since 1907. The RAIC is the leading voice for excellence in ...
as one of the top 500 buildings produced in Canada during the last millennium. Canada Post Corporation issued a 'Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa' stamp on 9 June 2011 as part of the Architecture Art Déco series. Two flagstaffs have been erected in front of the building. A flag on one is flown daily, while the other is hoisted only on those days when the court is in session. Also located on the grounds are several statues, notably: * Prime Minister
Louis St. Laurent Louis Stephen St. Laurent (''Saint-Laurent'' or ''St-Laurent'' in French, baptized Louis-Étienne St-Laurent; February 1, 1882 – July 25, 1973) was a Canadian lawyer and politician who served as the 12th prime minister of Canada ...
by Elek Imredy 1976 * Two statues by Canadian sculptor Walter S. Allward: ** Statue of
Veritas In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths of ancient Rome as represented in the Latin literature, literature and Roman art, visual arts of the Romans. One of a wide variety of genres of Roman folklore, ''Roman mythology'' may ...

Veritas
(
Truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In ...

Truth
) ** Statue of
Justitia Lady Justice ( la, Iustitia) is an Allegory, allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems. Her attributes are a blindfold, Weighing scale, scales, and a sword. She often appears as a pair with Prudentia. Lady Justice orig ...

Justitia
(
Justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, ...

Justice
) Inside there are busts of several chief justices: *
John Robert Cartwright John Robert Cartwright, (March 23, 1895 – November 24, 1979) was the 12th Chief Justice of Canada. Born in Toronto, Cartwright was the son of James Strachan Cartwright and Jane Elizabeth Young. After graduating from Upper Canada College in ...
1967–1970 *
Bora Laskin Bora Laskin, (October 5, 1912 – March 26, 1984) was a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and terri ...
1973–1983 *
Brian Dickson Robert George Brian Dickson (May 25, 1916 – October 17, 1998), commonly known as Brian Dickson, was a Canadian lawyer, military officer and judge. He was appointed a puisne justice A puisne judge or puisne justice (; from french: puisné or ...
1984–1990 *
Antonio Lamer Joseph Antonio Charles Lamer, (July 8, 1933 – November 24, 2007) was a Canadian lawyer, jurist and the 16th Chief Justice of Canada, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Career Lamer practised in partnership at the firm of Cutler, La ...
1990–2000 They were all sculpted by Kenneth Phillips Jarvis (1927–2007), Q.C., RCA, a retired Under Treasurer of the
Law Society of Upper Canada The Law Society of Ontario (LSO; french: Barreau de l'Ontario) is the law society responsible for the self-regulation of lawyers and paralegals in the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Ontario. Founded in 1797 as the Law ...
. Behind the building, along the cliff edge was once the home of hat maker R.J. Devlin at 41 Cliff Street, but demolished to make way for the court building. The court was housed previously in two other locations in Ottawa: * Railway Committee Room and a number of other committee rooms at the
Centre Block The Centre Block (french: Édifice du Centre) is the main building of the Canadian parliamentary complex on Parliament Hill Parliament Hill (french: Colline du Parlement), colloquially known as The Hill, is an area of Crown land on the sou ...
on
Parliament Hill Parliament Hill (french: Colline du Parlement), colloquially known as The Hill, is an area of Crown land on the southern banks of the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, Ontario , Label_map = yes , image_map = O ...

Parliament Hill
1876–1889 – later used as official meeting space for the federal Opposition Party Room was destroyed in fire and replaced with room built in 1916. *
Old Supreme Court Old or OLD may refer to: Places *Old, Baranya, Hungary *Old, Northamptonshire, England *Old Street station, a railway and tube station in London (station code OLD) *OLD, IATA code for Old Town Municipal Airport and Seaplane Base, Old Town, Mai ...
building on Bank Street 1889–1945 – demolished in 1955 and used as parking for Parliament Hill


Cultural recognition

On 9 June 2011, Canada Post issued "Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa" designed by Ivan Novotny (Taylor, Sprules Corporation) and based on a photograph by Philippe Landreville as part of the Art Deco series. The stamps feature a photo of the Supreme Court of Canada, designed by Ernest Cormier in 1939, and were printed by Lowe-Martin Company, Inc.


See also

*
Supreme Court of Canada cases The Supreme Court of Canada is the court of last resort and final appeal in Canada. Cases that are successfully appealed to the Court are generally of national importance. Once a case is decided the Court will publish written reasons for the decisi ...
*List of supreme courts by country


References


Further reading

* * *


External links


Supreme Court of Canada website

Supreme Court of Canada Library Catalogue

Opinions of the Supreme Court of Canada

searchable database of SCC decisions
(to 1948, with select older cases) via CanLII
Supreme Court of Canada from www.marianopolis.edu

Explore the Virtual Charter
Charter of Rights website with video, audio and the Charter in more than twenty languages


SCC building from official site


{{DEFAULTSORT:Supreme Court Of Canada Supreme Court of Canada, Art Deco architecture in Canada Courthouses in Canada Canadian appellate courts Federal government buildings in Ottawa National supreme courts, Canada Ernest Cormier buildings Art Deco courthouses 1875 establishments in Canada Buildings and structures completed in 1946 Courts and tribunals established in 1875