Supreme Court Season 2: Season of the SCC: Part 7

Lamont J, Hudson J, Locke J, Hall J, Dickson CJ, Stevenson J, Major J, Rothstein J

Lamont J, Hudson J, Locke J, Hall J, Dickson CJ, Stevenson J, Major J, Rothstein J

In 1927, the Supreme Court’s membership was increased to seven, to avoid tie votes. John Henderson Lamont (1865-1936) was appointed to the new opening on April 2, 1927. Lamont was born in Horning’s Mills, in Dufferin County, ON. He went to U of T, passed the bar in 1893, and practiced law in Toronto until 1899, when he moved to the Northwest Territories and settled in Prince Albert. He was the Liberal MP for the Provisional District of Saskatchewan from 1904 to 1905, when he resigned to serve as Liberal MLA for Prince Albert City and Attorney-General in the first legislature of Saskatchewan. Lamont served as a judge of the Saskatchewan Supreme Court from 1907 to 1918, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal from 1918 to 1927, and on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1927 to his death on March 10, 1936.

Albert Blellock Hudson (1875-1947) succeeded Lamont on March 24, 1936. Born in Pembroke, ON, Hudson moved to Manitoba as a child, attended the University of Manitoba and passed the bar in 1899. He was a Liberal MLA from 1914 to 1920, and was Attorney-General and Minister of Telephones and Telegraphs of Manitoba from 1915 to 1917. Hudson was the Liberal MP for Winnipeg South from 1921 to 1925. Hudson served on the Supreme Court from 1936 to his death on Jan. 6, 1947.

Charles Holland Locke CC MC (1887-1980) succeeded his friend and mentor, Albert Blellock Hudson, on June 3, 1947. Born in Morden, MB, he articled in Albert Hudson’s law office and passed the Manitoba bar in 1910. He signed up for the Army in World War I and was awarded the Military Cross for action on the Western Front. Locke came back to Winnipeg after the war, but moved to Vancouver in 1928 and engaged in private practice until he was appointed to the Supreme Court. Locke retired from the Court on Sept. 16, 1962, and died in 1980. His son, Charles Conrad Locke, was a justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court and the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

Emmett Matthew Hall CC (1898-1995) was appointed to the Court by John Diefenbaker on Nov. 23, 1962. Hall was born in Saint-Colomban, QC, but moved to Saskatoon as a child. He got a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan (where he supported himself as a public-school French teacher) and passed the bar in 1922. He proved to be a hotshot young defence lawyer, winning his first case before the Supreme Court of Canada at the age of 29. Hall was made Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan in 1957 and Chief Justice of Saskatchewan in 1961.

As a justice of the Supreme Court, Hall was the only justice to dissent from the decision to deny a retrial to Steven Truscott in 1967. But his most prominent role came in 1964, when he chaired a royal commission on the health system in Canada. The Hall Commission recommended the immediate adoption of public health insurance, making Hall one of the fathers of Medicare. Hall also co-chaired the Hall-Dennis report on education reform for the province of Ontario. Hall retired from the Court on March 1, 1973, and died in 1995 at the age of 96.

The Rt. Hon. Robert George Brian Dickson PC CC CD (1916-1998) succeeded Hall on March 26, 1973. Brian Dickson was born in Yorkton, SK, went to the University of Manitoba, passed the bar in 1940, and signed up for the Army and fought in France in World War II, where he lost a leg near Falaise. Coming home, he became a successful corporate lawyer in Winnipeg and was appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba in 1963 and promoted to the Manitoba Court of Appeal in 1967.

Dickson was appointed Chief Justice on April 18, 1984. He was the first new chief justice to be appointed since the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and thus the first truly modern Chief Justice. As such, his court settled a number of important cases. City of Kamloops v. Nielsen (1984) set out limits for compensation in tort claims based purely on economic loss; Hunter v. Southam Inc. (1984) struck down the Combines Investigation Act of 1923 for a failure to provide standards in the administration of warrants; R. v. Guerin (1984) found the federal government has a fiduciary duty to the First Nations of Canada and that the common-law tradition of Aboriginal title was a right unique (or “sui generis”) to Aboriginal law; Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration (1985) declared that refugees without status in Canada still had rights under the Charter; R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd. (1985) declared Lord’s Day Acts (laws banning trade on Sundays) unconstitutional; Operation Dismantle v. The Queen (1985) declared the courts can only intercede with the legislative and executive arms of the government for legal reasons, not political ones; R. v. Sansregret (1985) found that willful blindness to a lack of consent qualifies as rape; R. v. Therens (1985) found mandatory breathalyzer tests at the scene of an accident violates the right to retain counsel; R. v. Canadian Dredge & Dock Co. (1985) determined that corporate culpability can be pinned on its directing executives; Reference re Section 94(2) of the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act (1985) found that a law that decrees absolute liability for an offence cannot impose a penalty of detainment or imprisonment except in extreme circumstances; Ontario Human Rights Commission and O’Malley v. Simpsons-Sears Ltd. (1985) acknowledged the existence of indirect discrimination thorough conduct creating an effect of prejudice; R. v. Valente (1985) found that, legally, provincial court judges had judicial independence equivalent to that of federal judges; R. v. Oakes (1986) established the “Oakes test”, which is used to determine if a law is “reasonably justified” under section 1 of the Charter; R. v. Clarkson (1986) decided an accused person must be fully aware and informed of the consequences before he or she waives his or her right to retain and instruct counsel; Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents (1986) decided that people speaking a minority language in court have the right to an interpreter, but don’t have the right to a judge that speaks their language; Central Trust Company v. Rafuse (1986) established the discoverability doctrine for statutes of limitations: the time period begins when the plaintiff discovers or ought to have discovered the problem while exercising due diligence; R. v. Jones (1986) decreed that government holding ultimate control over education does not contravene freedom of religion; Mrs. E. v. Eve (1986) found a guardian doesn’t have the right to forcibly sterilize an adult retarded person in their care; Kosmopolous v. Constitution Insurance Co. of Canada (1987) declared corporate liability could be placed directly on shareholders only when such an action would be just and equitable to third parties; R. v. Collins (1987) established a test for the admissibility of evidence; Reference re Alberta Public Service Employee Relations Act (1987) found that freedom of association doesn’t include the right to go on strike; R. v. Smith (1987) found that long mandatory sentences not taking into account the severity of the crime constitutes cruel and unusual punishment; Rio Hotel Ltd. v. New Brunswick (Liquor Licensing Board) (1987) ruled that provincial laws regulating nudity in bars are constitutionally valid; Robichaud v. Canada (Treasury Board) (1987) found that a corporation can be found liable for the discriminatory conduct of its employees who are acting in the course of their employment; R. v. Béland (1987) ruled that polygraph tests are inadmissible in court; R. v. Wigglesworth (1987) decided how to determine if a legal proceeding is criminal in nature; R. v. Vaillancourt (1987) found that a murder committed when death was not foreseen by the guilty party is not culpable homicide; R. v. Morgentaler (1988) struck down the federal regulations on abortion and ordered them rewritten (which Parliament has never done); R. v. Crown Zellerbach Canada Ltd. (1988) decided that oceanic pollution was an exclusively federal jurisdiction; BCGEU v. British Columbia (1988) decided that judges can issue injunctions against picketing outside of courthouses; R. v. Dyment (1988) ruled that the police cannot seize blood samples taken for medical reasons; Ford v. Quebec (Attorney General) (1988) struck down the parts of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language restricting non-French signage; Devine v. Quebec (Attorney General) (1988) found provincial regulation of minority language rights are constitutionally valid; Sobeys Stores Ltd. v. Yeomans and Labour Standards Tribunal (NS) (1989) ruled labour tribunals are not unconstitutional; Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia (1989) established the “Andrews test” to determine when equality rights have been violated; Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Quebec (Attorney General) (1989) found restrictions on advertising to children violates freedom of speech, but is saved under Section 1 of the Charter; Brooks v. Safeway Canada (1989) found discrimination against pregnant women to be unconstitutional; United States of America v. Cotroni; United States of America v. El Zein (1989) found that extradition violates mobility rights, but is allowed under Section 1 of the Charter; Tremblay v. Daigle (1989) ruled that a fetus is not a legal person under Canadian law; Lac Minerals Ltd. v. International Corona Resources Ltd. (1989) decided how confidential relationships can be created in the course of business, and the appropriate penalties when such relationships are broken; Mackeigan v. Hickman (1989) held that to require a federal judge to explain his or her decisions would violate the principle of judicial independence; Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (Attorney General) (1989) held that publication bans on matrimonial proceedings are a violation of freedom of speech; R. v. Duarte (1990) found that recording of private communications requires the consent of both sides; R. v. Brydges (1990) imposed a duty upon the police to provide information to a legal aid lawyer if needed (legal aid lawyers for the recently arrested are now called “Brydges counsel”); R. v. Storrey (1990) ruled a police officer need both subjective and objective reasons to make an arrest; Mahé v. Alberta (1990) required that parents of the English/French minority in each province have the right either to be represented on the school boards, or to have school boards of their own; Knight v. Indian Head School Division No. 19 (1990) created a threshold test to determine whether an administrative process is obliged to be procedurally fair; R. v. Lavallee (1990) recognized the existence of battered woman syndrome; R. v. Ladouceur (1990) found that random traffic checks violate the right against arbitrary detention, but are saved under Section 1; R. v. Sparrow (1990) held that Aboriginal rights cannot be infringed upon without justification; Reference re ss. 193 & 195.1(1)(c) of Criminal Code (Canada) (1990), a.k.a. the “Prostitution Reference”, found limits on communicating for purposes of prostitution were an acceptable limit on freedom of expression (later struck down in 2013’s Bedford v. Attorney-General); R. v. Skinner (1990) found the solicitation of prostitutes does not violate the right to freedom of association; Apple Computer, Inc. v. Mackintosh Computers Ltd. (1990) found software can be copyrighted; and Rocket v. Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (1990) struck down a law prohibiting advertising by medical professionals.

Dickson retired on June 30, 1990, and died in 1998.

William Alexander Stevenson OC (1934-now) was appointed to the Supreme Court on Sept. 17, 1990. Stevenson was born in Edmonton and went to the University of Alberta Law School, where he co-founded the Alberta Law Review. He passed the bar in 1958 and both practiced law and taught at U of A until 1975, when he began a string of judgeships: the District Court of Alberta (1975-79), the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta (1979-80), the Court of Appeal of Alberta (1980-90), the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories (1976-80), the Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories (1980-90), and the Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory (1978-83).

Stevenson retired from the Supreme Court on June 5, 1992, due to his frail health, and now enjoys a quiet retirement.

John Charles Major CC (1931-now) replaced Stevenson on Nov. 13, 1992, the last justice appointed by Brian Mulroney. Born in Mattawa, ON, “Jack” Major attended Loyola College (now part of Concordia U) and U of T before moving to Alberta, where he passed the bar in 1958. He practiced law in Calgary and was senior counsel to the Calgary Police, then was appointed to the Alberta Court of Appeal in 1991. As a justice, Major was well-respected for his well-written opinions. Major left the Court on Dec. 25, 2005 and returned to private practice. He chaired a commission of inquiry in 2006 into the Air India bombing of 1985.

Marshall E. Rothstein (1940-now) became Stephen Harper’s first appointee to the Supreme Court on March 1, 2006. Born in Winnipeg, Rothstein earned an LLB from the University of Manitoba ad passed the bar in 1966. He practiced transportation and competition law in Winnipeg and lectured in transport law at the University of Manitoba. He was appointed to the Trial Division of the Federal Court of Canada in 1992 and elevated to the Appeal Division in 1999.


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