Just one day after federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said filling vacancies at the Supreme Court of Canada is the government’s top priority, the Federal Court’s chief justice announced he will step down on Sept. 30.
However, he’s not leaving the court entirely. He will stay on as a supernumerary judge.
Chief Justice Allan Lutfy is one of a number of senior judges who have recently announced their departure. SCC justices Ian Binnie, 72, and Louise Charron, 60, retire from the top court at the end of this month, as does Quebec Court of Appeal Chief Justice J.J. Michel Robert.
The 67-year-old Lutfy has sat on the Federal Court’s bench since 1996. He served as the court’s associate chief justice for three years and was appointed its chief on July 2, 2003. He has presided over high-profile cases including the deportations of alleged Nazi war criminal Serge Kisluk and terrorism suspect Mohamed Harkat.
He received his law degree from McGill University in 1967. Before his appointment to the bench, he worked in civil litigation and administrative law in Quebec and Ontario. He also acted as counsel for several commissions of inquiry into national security, the state of competition in the petroleum industry, and drug use in sports. He was counsel to the Security Intelligence Review Committee and the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery.
Lutfy has also worked as a political adviser, serving as an aide to prime minister Pierre Trudeau and assisting incoming prime minister Jean Chrétien with analyzing potential cabinet ministers.
This latest move will give Stephen Harper’s government even more influence over Canada’s judiciary as it prepares to find replacements for these vacancies.