Supreme Court Justice Bastarache bows out

Bastarache, with 11 years as justice of SCC, will retire at the end of June

By Graham F. Scott

On Thursday April 10th, 2008


Michel BastaracheJustice Michel Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada surprised everyone on Wednesday by announcing that he will be retiring at the end of June. Bastarache, 60, had heart surgery in February, which may be related to his early departure from the bench.

A New Brunswick francophone, Bastarache has long been an advocate for minority language rights, and has written a number of books on the subject. During his 11 years on the Supreme Court bench, Justice Bastarache made about 150 rulings on everything from farm unionization to child support payments to the infamous ‘Harvard Mouse.’ Observers are already handicapping replacements, who by convention, will be selected from Atlantic Canada to maintain geographic distribution on the bench. Justice Thomas Cromwell’s name has been mentioned, as has Clyde Wells, former premier of Newfoundland and chief justice of the Newfoundland Court of Appeal. SCC Chief Justice Bevery McLachlin said in a news release that she hoped to have a replacement in time for the court to sit next fall.

“There are but a small number of jurists who have had the opportunity to serve their country in this capacity,” said Justice Bastarache in the press release announcing his retirement, “and to have had the chance to participate so directly in the development of the law.”