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The Supreme Court of Canada will have a female majority for the first time in its history

Mary Moreau has a hearing on Friday with the standing committee on justice and human rights of the Canadian House of Commons to discuss the nomination

Mary Moreau
Mary Moreau, future justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, last Tuesday.Court of King's Bench of Alberta

The Supreme Court of Canada will have a female majority for the first time in its 148-year history. On October 26, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nominated Mary Moreau to fill a vacancy in the country’s top court, which will be made up of five women and four men. “I am confident that her impressive judicial career and dedication to fairness and excellence will make Chief Justice Moreau an invaluable addition to our country’s highest court,” said Trudeau in a statement.

Born in Edmonton in 1956, Mary Moreau graduated in law from the University of Alberta in 1970. She has extensive experience in criminal, constitutional and civil law. She has worked for 29 years in Alberta’s superior court, where she was most recently its Chief Justice. She also served on the Supreme Courts of Yukon and of the Northwest Territories.

Moreau comes from the French-speaking minority of the western province of Alberta, although she also speaks English. It is no coincidence that during her career, she has been in charge of various matters related to linguistic rights. In a questionnaire made public as part of the selection process for the seat on the Supreme Court of Canada, Moreau noted: “All Canadians should be able to see themselves reflected in their justice system in order to have faith in it.” She also noted that she “also experienced the challenges that come with belonging to a minority group in a majority anglophone province.” The ability of Supreme Court justices to work in both languages has been an unfinished business for decades.

As part of the procedure, Moreau has a hearing on Friday with the standing committee on justice and human rights of the Canadian House of Commons. A date for the official appointment has not yet been made public. Moreau will fill the vacancy left by Russell Brown, who resigned in June amid an investigation for alleged misconduct at an Arizona resort. Brown has repeatedly denied these allegations.

Various organizations, both public and private, have celebrated the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada will have a female majority bench for the first time in history. The first female judge to occupy a seat in this court was Bertha Wilson, in March 1982. In June 2021, Mahmud Jamal became the first judge from a religious minority to reach the top court. And Michelle O’Bonsawin made history in September 2022 as the first Indigenous person to achieve this.

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