When Gerald Le Dain was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1984, he had a distinguished background as a jurist and academic.
Called to the Quebec Bar in 1949, Le Dain went on to teach law at his alma mater, McGill University, practise as a lawyer, become dean of Osgoode Hall Law School in 1967, and, perhaps most notably, chair the Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs from 1969 to 1973, which recommended that cannabis be removed from the narcotic control act and be regulated provincially. In 1975 he was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeal and the Court Martial Appeal Court.
But Le Dain’s tenure as a Supreme Court puisne judge was cut short four years after his appointment when — according to a report that will be broadcast Jan. 14 on CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition — then Chief Justice Brian Dickson effectively required Le Dain to resign from the court after Le Dain’s wife had requested a leave of absence for him, citing mental strain and depression. Le Dain retired from the high court on Nov. 30, 1988, three days after his 64th birthday.