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Quebec’s chief justice stepping down

michel robertFirst two justices of the Supreme Court announced their retirement, now Quebec’s Chief Justice J.J. Michel Robert, has also said he’ll be stepping down from his position at the Quebec Court of Appeal on Aug. 30, 2011.

He notified Chief Justice of Canada Beverly McLachlin on Friday, the same day the news came out that justices Ian Binnie and Louise Charron would be moving on.

Robert has sat on the Court of Appeal bench since May 9, 1995 and has been chief justice of Quebec since June 25, 2002.

He raised some eyebrows, and brought calls for his resignation from the Bloc Quebecois, in a 2005 interview with the National Post in which he said sovereigntists should be disqualified from federal judicial appointments and jobs including governor general, chief of defence staff, and RCMP commissioner.

“We must apply the Canadian Constitution, it is our first duty as judges,” Robert said in the interview. “So it seems to me that if one doesn’t want to apply the Canadian Constitution one should not exercise judicial functions.”

He was first called to the bar in 1962 and stayed in private practice until 1995 when he became a judge.

In 1974, Robert became bâtonnier of the Barreau du Québec and in 1975, president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. He also served as a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, from 1991 to 1995.

With Robert’s post open, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has the opportunity to appoint another judge into a particularly influential position.

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