Government stays course with SCC nominations

Justice Andromache KarakatsanisEarly reaction to the two Supreme Court nominations announced today suggests the new judges don’t represent a radical change in direction.

“First reax on SCC noms — they’re consistent with past choices. Hard to see attempt to ‘stack’ the court,” law professor Carissima Mathen wrote on Twitter this morning.

Others, however, were surprised to see no one appointed directly from the bar to the top court as justice Ian Binnie had been. “Surprised no choice from the bar to keep Sopinka/Binnie tradition of appointments direct from practice alive,” tweeted Toronto litigator Jean-Marc Leclerc.

The nominations of Ontario Court of Appeal justices Michael Moldaver and Andromache Karakatsanis will be subject to review by an ad hoc parliamentary committee on Wednesday, but it has no power to reject them. That follows a process that began with the appointment of Justice Marshall Rothstein in 2006.

“Certainly not ‘liberal’ nominees, but ‘moderate.’ More importantly, meritorious. Not an attempt at ‘stacking’ the Court,” noted University of Victoria political scientist Emmett Macfarlane in his Twitter comments this morning.

Justice Michael MoldaverWhile they don’t appear to represent a major shift on the court, the two nominations are noteworthy for a number of reasons. Karakatsanis, for example, is the first Greek-Canadian to serve on the top court. At the same time, while she was first called to the bar in 1982, she has spent most of her career as a civil servant, including senior roles at the Ontario Liquor Licence Board and later with the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat. She also served as deputy attorney general for Ontario before her appointment as the province’s cabinet secretary. She became an Ontario Superior Court judge in 2002 and now joints the Supreme Court bencher after less than two years at the Court of Appeal.

Moldaver, meanwhile, brings an extensive criminal law background to the top court, a specialty that will help fill a major gap left by the departure of justice Louise Charron. He practised criminal law following his call to the bar in 1973 until his appointment to Supreme Court of Ontario bench in 1990. Besides teaching criminal law at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and serving as director of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, he has long been actively involved in continuing legal education. He became an Ontario Court of Appeal judge in 1995.

The two new judges replace retiring justices Ian Binnie and Charron. The pair announced their retirements in May.

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE weekly newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered every two weeks, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please complete the form below to receive the weekly Canadian Legal Newswire and/or the Canadian Inhouse Legal Newswire.

Recent articles & video

PwC powers-up legal services with AI platform

Law careers may start on Instagram…

Top Intellectual Property and Labour and Employment Boutiques survey closes on Friday

Differentiating common law from marriage in family law

Insights on Quebec’s plan to restrict the sale of cannabis edibles

Make legal aid an election issue

Most Read Articles

Millennial lawyers look for the value proposition

True North and Rebel News seek judicial review on press accreditation denial for debates

EY Law overtakes PwC in global alternative legal services rankings

Differentiating common law from marriage in family law