Controversial judicial appointment in Ontario

The Federal government has elevated Justice Bradley Miller to the Ontario Court of Appeal after only six months on the Superior Court bench.

While there’s no official press release of the controversial appointment,  Clarissa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the minister of justice, confirmed the appointment effective immediately. Lamb said Miller is replacing Justice Gloria Epstein, who became a supernumerary judge on Jan. 1.

Miller, a former law professor at Western University, has been vocal about what he perceives as an attack on those who reject same-sex marriage in Canada.

Last year, while he was still a law professor, he wrote to the Law Society of Upper Canada in support of Trinity Western University’s bid for accreditation.

“If LSUC determines that the acceptance of a particular form of marriage is in fact a pre-condition to participation in public life, we must consider what consequences there will be for those existing member of LSUC who cannot, in good conscience, affirm that conception,” Miller wrote.

“Is LSUC prepared to impose statements of belief on its membership? The condemnation of TWU’s code of conduct would end, logically, in the code of belief to be imposed on the LSUC membership,” he added.

The LSUC voted not to accredit TWU due to its community covenant that effectively bans sexual intimacy between same sex couples. The university is challenging that decision at the Divisional Court.

Miller has written in other places saying the rejection of same-sex marriage has been likened to bigotry, which he said harms freedom of expression.

“The formal effect of the judicial decisions (and subsequent legislation) establishing same-sex civil marriage in Canada was simply that persons of the same-sex could now have the government recognize their relationships as marriages. But the legal and cultural effect was much broader,” he wrote in a 2012 essay.

“What transpired was the adoption of a new orthodoxy: that same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage, and that same-sex marriage must therefore be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life.”

Although Miller has spoken out in this area, Toronto appellate lawyer Allan Rouben says there’s nothing to suggest the appointment was ideologically motivated.

“The assumption appears to be that the appointment is ideologically motivated,” Rouben says. “There are a whole range of factors that go into the judicial appointment process. He had an impressive academic career and there’s nothing to say that isn’t the predominant factor in the first place,” he adds.

In Quebec, Superior Court Justice Jacques Fournier, who has been the court’s associate chief justice has been appointed its chief justice.

Fournier, who became associate chief justice in 2013, is replacing Justice François Rolland. He was appointed as puisne judge of the Court of Appeal of Quebec in 2011 and judge of the Superior Court of Quebec in 2002. Fournier was also an instructor at Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Montréal.

Justice Eva Petras becomes the new associate chief justice, effective June 30. She was first appointed to the Superior Court of Quebec in 2006.

Before becoming a judge, Petras practised family law and litigation at Eva Petras law firm. Prior to launching her own firm, she practised at MacKenzie Gervais from 1981 to 1986 and Lapointe Rosenstein from 1986 to 1990. She has also been a lecturer in family law at McGill University’s Faculty of Law.

Earlier in the month, New Brunswick Justice Raymond French, a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench was appointed to the province’s court of appeal, He replaces Justice B. R. Bell, who was appointed to the Federal Court.

French was first appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench in 2007. Before his appointment, he was a lawyer with Patterson Palmer in Saint John.

Replacing French on the Court of Queen’s Bench Trial Division is Richard Petrie. Prior to his appointment, Petrie worked as a lawyer with Stewart McKelvey in Fredericton.

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