Osgoode Hall Law School's Professor James Stribopolous has a strong article in The Court today regarding the Supreme Court of Canada's former Chief Justice, Antonio Lamer, who died on the weekend.
He was a jurist who was truly committed to the idea that it was the role of judges to decide cases based on what they believed to be right. To act on principle and with conviction, even if that meant doing what was very unpopular.
...As he explained to Macleans during a 1998 interview:
"Let’s not forget there are no jobs in the world that enjoy our tenure of office. You can’t fire a judge. He can’t be terminated except by both houses of Parliament. The sole justification for that is to make it possible for him to do the unpopular thing, without fear of losing his job, when it’s the right thing to do. You don’t usually need judges to do the popular thing - politicians do it for them."
Beyond his judgments, the great legacy left by Antonio Lamer is the model of judicial independence that he provides for all judges.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also issued a statement Sunday on Justice Lamer's passing:
From his first days at the bar, through his years with the Law Reform Commission, and finally as a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, Antonio Lamer brought his views on due process to bear on the reshaping of Canada's justice system. He tackled the great challenges of law reform without fear or hesitation. His rulings expanded the right to counsel, the law of search and seizure, and the scope of judicial review. His most important decisions, such as the Re Remuneration of Judges, even shifted the fundamental balance of judicial and legislative power in Canada.The legacy of Justice Antonio Lamer is felt across the Canadian legal system today.
I offer my sympathies to the Lamer family and the late Justice's friends and colleagues.
Update - November 30, 2007.
Coverage of Mr. Justice Lamer's funeral:
- Chretien hails ex-Supreme Court justice Antonio Lamer as "great Canadian" -The Canadian Press -
- Respected jurist Lamer buried - Montreal Gazette
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto