Duval Hesler first woman chief justice of Quebec

For the first time, a woman has been named chief justice of Quebec.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Justice Nicole Duval Hesler to the position of chief justice of the Quebec Court of Appeal on Oct. 7. She replaces Justice J.J. Michel Robert, who retired on Sept. 1.

Martin Sheehan, president of the CBA’s Quebec branch, says Duval Hesler is “an all-around well-diversified and thorough jurist.” He is confident she will excel as chief justice, not only because she is well-liked by the members of the court but also because she embraces technology.

“She was clearly one of the first technology-friendly judges. Years ago when you pleaded before her you would hear her type on a laptop . . . when nobody else was doing that. So that to me is refreshing,” he tells Legal Feeds. “I think that one thing that the law in Quebec needs is to get into the 21st century and be more technologically friendly.”

Duval Hesler is no stranger to the bench. She was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 1992 and then to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2006. Prior to her appointment to the bench in 1992, she was a partner at McAllister Blakely Hesler & Lapierre. Her main area of practice was civil litigation with an emphasis on tort law, product liability, construction law, insolvency and environmental law.

She was called to the Quebec bar in 1968 and served on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal from 1979 to 1992.

She has been a frequent speaker for various organizations, including the Canadian Bar Association.

Sheehan says the fact that Duval Hesler is the first female chief justice is a sign of what the legal profession in Quebec has accomplished but it’s not why she was appointed.

“She will be a great ambassador for people,” he adds. “She has always been seen as a judge for whom justice and equity go hand-in-hand in the sense that she believes that justice is a tool to do good.”

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