Justice Mahmud Jamal is the first person of color appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada – .

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Justice Mahmud Jamal is the first person of color appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada – .


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed the Honorable Mahmud Jamal as the next member of the Supreme Court of Canada.

“I know that Justice Jamal, with his exceptional legal and academic experience and his dedication to serving others, will be a valuable asset to our country’s highest court,” Trudeau said in a press release.

Fully bilingual Justice Jamal was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2019 and appeared in 35 appeals before the Supreme Court of Canada on civil, constitutional, criminal and regulatory issues.

The first person of color to be appointed to Canada’s highest court, he also taught constitutional law at McGill University and administrative law at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Jamal will replace Justice Rosalie Abella, currently the senior Supreme Court judge, who will retire from the court on July 1, her 75th birthday.

According to the Liberal government’s Supreme Court appointment process, Jamal’s name was said to have been added to a list of three to five candidates submitted to Trudeau by the court’s advisory council, headed by former Prime Minister Kim Campbell.

The recommendations of the board are not binding.

The shortlist would then have been reviewed by a list of interested parties, including the Chief Justice, provincial and territorial attorneys general, relevant ministers, opposition justice critics and some House committees. of the communes.

During the recruitment process, applicants must complete a questionnaire. Some answers of the possible candidate of the Prime Minister are made public.

Contribute to the law

When asked what he considers his most important contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice, Jamal said he would leave it to others to decide.

“At this point in my life, there is no more meaningful way for me to contribute to the law and the pursuit of justice than through public service as a judge,” he wrote in his survey. “Every judge knows what extraordinary privilege and responsibility the judicial role is entrusted with.

I was brought up at school as a Christian, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and absorbing the values ​​of the Church of England, and at home as a Muslim, memorizing the Arabic prayers from the Quran …– Judge Jamal

“Each case is consecutive, even if it is not a previous one, because it counts for the parties. I try to approach every case with an open mind and a willingness to listen, both for lawyers and for my colleagues – it is always more important to speak up. “

Jamal said he finds the most sense in his pro bono work because it allows him to “join in with something much bigger than yourself”.

Jamal was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1967 to a family from India. He said in his questionnaire that his family moved to the UK in search of a better life in 1969. In 1981, his family moved to Edmonton, where he attended high school.

He said his hybrid religious and cultural education in the UK and Canada helps him grasp the variety and diversity of Canada.

“I was brought up in school as a Christian, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and absorbing the values ​​of the Church of England, and at home as a Muslim, memorizing the Arabic prayers from the Quran and living in within the Ismaili community, ”he wrote.

“Like many others, I have experienced discrimination as a fact of everyday life. Child and young, I was taunted and harassed because of my name, my religion or the color of my skin. “

Jamal said his wife immigrated to Canada from Iran to escape persecution from the Bahá’í religious minority during the 1979 revolution.

“After our marriage, I became a Bahá’í, drawn to the message of faith on the spiritual unity of mankind, and we raised our two children in the multi-ethnic community of Toronto,” he said. .

From LSE to Yale

Jamal said he was the first person in his family to attend college. He spent a year at the London School of Economics before obtaining his degree in economics from the University of Toronto. He then went to McGill to study common law and Quebec civil law before obtaining his graduate degree in law from Yale Law School.

“I have lived and worked in three provinces and developed a national practice which brought me to the courts of seven provinces,” he wrote.

“The erosion of interprovincial barriers has allowed me to learn from lawyers and judges across Canada about the differences between jurisdictions and, more importantly, the many commonalities that unite us. These experiences deepened my conviction in the diversity and essential unity of our country, its peoples and the Canadian legal profession.

Campbell and Justice Minister David Lametti will soon appear before a special hearing of the House of Commons justice committee to discuss the selection process and the reasons for the appointment.

Committee members will then participate in a question and answer period with Jamal, along with members of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and a member of the Green Party of Canada.

This session will be moderated by Marie-Eve Sylvestre, dean of the civil law section of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa.

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