Canada’s next Supreme Court Justice could come from the North

Canada’s nine Supreme Court Justices in 2016. Could the next judge be from one of Canada’s three northern territories? (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)
For the first time ever, Canada is including jurists from the North in its search for a new Supreme Court Justice.

“The Supreme Court of Canada is recognized around the world as a strong, independent judicial institution,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a news statement on Friday.

“This strength includes regional representation. The process we are opening up today will recruit potential candidates from Western Canada and Northern Canada and follow the tradition of appointing only the most exceptional and impressive individuals to the court.”

Importance of regional representation
A pedestrian walks in the rain past the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Friday, June 23, 2017. Appointments to the Court seek to ensure the different regions of Canada are represented. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The Supreme Court of Canada is made up of nine judges.

Canada’s Supreme Court Act requires that three of the Court’s justices be from the province of Quebec, where French is the official language.

Typically, the federal government also appoints three Judges from the province of Ontario, two from western Canada, and one from Atlantic Canada.

This is the first time that the North is being acknowledged in regional representation, and that jurists working in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are being invited to apply.

The new judge will replace Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin who retires December 15, 2017.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s Supreme Court to decide on northern wilderness watershed, Radio Canada International

Denmark: Nordics report high abuse levels against women, Radio Sweden

Finland: Finland ‘downplays’ suicide figures says expert, Yle News

Iceland: Iceland has first fatal police shooting, The Associated Press

Russia: Why high suicide rates in Arctic Russia?, Deutsche Welle’s Ice-Blogger

Sweden:  Reports of violent crime increasing in Sweden’s North, Radio Sweden

United States:  More than 150 Alaskan villages excluded from jury duty, can residents get fair trial?, Alaska Dispatch News

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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