The Federal Government has announced its nominee to fill a vacant position for the Supreme Court of Canada. The nominee is Justice Nicholas Kasirer, who presently holds a seat on the Quebec Court of Appeal, where he has presided for some 10 years. He was previously the dean of McGill University’s law school.

He has been appointed with the expectation of replacing the retiring Justice Clement Gascon. The tradition of the Supreme Court is to include three justices from the Province of Quebec as well as three justices from Ontario. The Court consists of nine judges in total. The Court usually sits as nine members, although it does from time to time preside as seven.

What makes this nomination unique is the submission of the nominee to public questioning. This is an unusual occurrence, as, unlike the procedure in the republic to the south, formal approval of the legislative body is not required in order to appoint a Supreme Court justice.

Justice Kasirer was questioned yesterday by Members of Parliament sitting on the House of Commons justice committee, senators from the legal affairs committee of the upper house and also representatives from the Bloc Quebecois, Green Party and People’s Party of Canada.

Equally unprecedented, the Justice Minister, David Lametti, along with former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, the chair of the Supreme Court advisory body, testified as to why the candidate was chosen.

It remains to be seen as to whether this process will become a new tradition. There is no legislative requirement for this hearing.

There is every indication that this process is helpful to aid in public awareness of the personality and judicial background of a candidate for the highest court in the country’s judicial system is a good idea.

Decisions of the Supreme Court & Employment Law

Canadians should take a keen interest in this process, particularly because the Supreme Court often rules on questions pertaining to the Charter of Rights & Freedoms. These decisions impact the rights of every Canadian, across a wide spectrum of issues, including many employment law matters. The Supreme Court has ruled on numerous issues affecting employers and employees across Canada, including the duty of good faith on termination or between contracting parties, a host of human rights issues which affect the workplace, and the right of privacy on an employer’s IT network. We should all pay heed to the persons who hold the final say with respect to the judicial interpretation of our laws.

We will be following the appointment of Justice Kasirer with interest, in the hopes of gaining some insight into what it will mean for trends in labour and employment law decisions in the coming years.

For highly skilled assistance with any labour or employment issue, contact the Toronto employment and labour lawyers atMallins Law. We regularly advise employees and employers on legal workplace issues. Contact us online or by phone at 647-792-0310 to schedule a consultation.