Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Tuesday morning the appointment of Quebec’s Richard Wagner as Chief Justice of Canada.
The 60-year-old magistrate, appointed in 2012 to the Supreme Court by conservative Stephen Harper troops, will replace outgoing Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin next Monday.
“It is an honor to appoint the Honorable Richard Wagner as the new Chief Justice of Canada,” said Justin Trudeau in a statement. “I have absolute confidence in his ability to lead Canada’s highest court, a respected institution that continues a long tradition of judicial independence and excellence.”
This long-awaited appointment respects the principle of alternating between an English-speaking (common law) and a Quebec (civil-law) judge at the head of Canada’s highest court.
This principle has been respected without interruption since the Second World War, with one exception.
Who is Richard Wagner?
Appointed to the Quebec Bar in 1980 after studying law at the University of Ottawa, Wagner worked as a lawyer until 2004. He was a partner in Billy’s Montreal law firm Lavery.
He has practiced mainly in professional liability law, accountants, architects and engineers and in commercial litigation.
Mr. Wagner was appointed judge of the Superior Court of Quebec in 2004 for the District of Montreal. He joined the Court of Appeal in 2011, before being appointed the following year to the Supreme Court by Stephen Harper.
Quebeckers in power
The appointment of Richard Wagner to head the Supreme Court will strengthen the presence of Quebecers in power, said Tuesday morning The Globe and Mail . With Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister and Julie Payette as Governor General, the province enjoys a “strong position” in Canada, notes the Toronto daily.
Richard Wagner is considered in Ottawa as “a conservative with a tiny” c “, adds the Globe.
Swearing December 18
Outgoing Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin praised her colleague’s appointment on Tuesday morning. “Judge Wagner is a brilliant lawyer and an individual of great integrity. I am confident that he will lead the Court with wisdom and skill.”
Beverley McLachlin was appointed in 2000 by Liberal Jean Chrétien. With a term of almost 18 years, she will have been the Supreme Court justice to remain in office for the longest time in Canadian history.
The magistrate will officially retire next Friday. Richard Wagner will be officially sworn in on Monday, Dec. 18, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall.
Mr. Wagner is one of three Quebecers who sit on the Supreme Court, composed of nine judges.