Supreme Court Season 2: Season of the SCC: Part 9

Fauteux CJ, de Grandpré J, Pratte J, Chouinard J, L’Heureux-Dubé J, Deschamps J, Wagner J

Fauteux CJ, de Grandpré J, Pratte J, Chouinard J, L’Heureux-Dubé J, Deschamps J, Wagner J


The Rt. Hon. Joseph Honoré Gérald Fauteux PC CC (1900-1980) was the junior of the two new justices appointed on Dec. 22, 1949.

Gérald Fauteux was born in Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, the brother of Liberal MP Gaspard Fauteux and the brother-in-law of Progressive Conservative senator Claude Castonguay. Through his mother, Héva Mercier, he was the grandson of Quebec premier Honoré Mercier, nephew of premier Sir Lomer Gouin, first cousin of Liberal senator Léon-Mercier Gouin, and first cousin twice removed of current Leader of the Opposition Thomas Mulcair.

Fauteux went to U de Montreal and passed the bar in 1925, partnering in Montreal with his cousin, Honoré Mercier Jr. Fauteux lectured in criminal law at McGill and was Dean of Law there from 1949 to 1950, and was later Dean of Law at the U of Ottawa from 1953 to 1962. He was also Crown Prosecutor for Montreal from 1930 to 1936, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Province of Quebec from 1939 to 1947, a legal advisor to the Kellock-Taschereau Commission in 1946, and a judge of the Quebec Superior Court from 1947 to 1949.

Fauteux was promoted to Chief Justice on March 23, 1970, the fourth Chief Justice in eight years. Important cases of his tenure include Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company v. Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. (1970), which decided if a patent covers both a machine and that machine’s process, and somebody invents a different machine that works with the same process, it isn’t patent infringement; Caloil Inc. v. Attorney General of Canada (1971), which agreed that the federal government had the power to restrict the import and sale of goods in specific areas of the country; AG Manitoba v. Manitoba Egg and Poultry Association (1971), known as the “Manitoba Egg Reference”, which decided that provinces could not engage in trade embargoes with each other; Horsley v. MacLaren (1972), which found there is no civil duty to rescue someone in trouble (this is also known as the Ogopogo case, after the boat Mr. Horsley fell off and died); R. v. Duke (1972), which found the common law principle of natural justice (i.e., the right to a fair and unbiased trial) is equivalent to the right to fundamental justice enumerated in the Bill of Rights (and later in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms); Tennessee Eastman Co. v. Commissioner of Patents (1972), which found that medical procedures are not patentable; and Calder v. British Columbia (Attorney General) (1973), which found that Aboriginal land title derives from rights existing prior to Western contact, as opposed to their derivation from the governing statutes. Fauteux retired on Dec. 23, 1973, and died in 1980.

Louis-Philippe de Grandpré CC (1917-2008) was appointed to the Supreme Court on Jan. 1, 1974. Born in Montreal, de Grandpré went to McGill and was called to the bar in 1938. At the age of 29, he developed a cyst in his spinal cord that crippled his right side for the rest of his life. He had a thriving private practice in Montreal and was president of the Canadian Bar Association for 1972 and 1973, where he opposed state control of legal aid plans. As a justice, de Grandpré was very conservative and anti-abortion, butting heads fiercely with Bora Laskin, until he resigned from the Court on Oct. 1, 1977, claiming the judgeship bored him. He returned to his Montreal practice and died in Saint-Lambert a month shy of 91.

Yves Pratte (1925-1988) was appointed to the Court on Oct. 1, 1977. Born in Quebec City, Pratte went to U of T and Laval and passed the bar in 1947. He was Dean of Law at Laval from 1965 to 1968, and chairman of Air Canada from 1968 to 1974. Pratte resigned his judgeship for health reasons on June 30, 1979, and returned to private practice, dying suddenly of a heart attack in 1988. His son, André Pratte, is the editor-in-chief of La Presse.

Julien Chouinard OC CD (1929-1987) joined the Court on Sept. 24, 1979, the only Supreme Court appointment of Joe Clark. Chouinard was born in Quebec City and went to Laval before going to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, returning and passing the bar in 1953. During this time he also served as an officer in the militia, working his way up to lieutenant-colonel, and was Commander of the 6th Field Artillery Regiment from 1965 to 1968. He joined the Quebec civil service as deputy minister of justice in 1965, then he was appointed Secretary General of the Executive Council of Quebec in 1968, serving until his appointment to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1974. Chouinard served on the Supreme Court for seven years, until his death from brain cancer on Feb. 6, 1987.

Claire L’Heureux-Dubé CC (1927-now) became the first French woman on the Supreme Court on April 15, 1987. Born Claire L’Heureux in Quebec City, she went to McGill and Laval and passed the bar in 1951. She married Dr. Arthur Dubé in 1957, staying together until his suicide in 1978. L’Heureux-Dubé was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 1973, then to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1979.

On the Court, L’Heureux-Dubé was a prolific dissenter: her liberal, activist jurisprudence often clashed with her fellow justices, her judgements rested heavily on research into the social sciences, and her written opinions were very long. L’Heureux-Dubé left the Court July 1, 2002. She now campaigns for greater access to justice in Quebec City.

Marie Deschamps CC (1952-now) was appointed to the Supreme Court on Aug. 7, 2002. Deschamps was born in Repentigny and went to U de Montreal and McGill before passing the bar in 1975. She was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 1990, then to the Quebec Court of Appeal two years later. Deschamps retired from the Court on Aug. 7, 2012. She has since joined the faculty at McGill Law School.

Richard R. Wagner (1957-now) replaced Deschamps on Oct. 5, 2012. Wagner was born in Montreal, the son of Quebec attorney-general and Progressive Conservative MP and senator Claude Wagner. Richard went to the U of Ottawa and was called to the bar of Quebec in 1980, then began a successful career in Montreal as a realty and commercial litigator. Wagner was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 2004, then to the Quebec Court of Appeal in February of 2011.


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