Continued From Page 5
wick, Manitoba and the three territories are enacted in both languages and that both versions
have equal status. One would
expect the final interpreters of
those laws to be able to read both
versions, especially as the canons
of interpretation sometimes
require the French version to be
given priority over the English
one (as in R. v. Daoust,  1
The bottom line is that know-
ledge of French is a requirement
for a job on the bench of the
Supreme Court of Canada. Is that
unfair? The reality is that Anglo-
phone judges who eye a Supreme
Court appointment have known
for at least 30 years that know-
ledge of French is, at the very
least, a definite asset. Federally-
appointed judges across the coun-
try have resources at their dis-
posal to learn French and to
familiarize themselves with the
civil law. There are second-lan-
guage training programs. Several
judges have even taken advantage
of their study leave to spend time
in a Quebec university. There are
many highly competent candi-
dates who understand French,
and it is not unfair to turn to
them for the next appointment. ;
Sébastien Grammond is dean
of Civil Law at the University of
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Continued From Page 7
the Tories from power?
This may sound like a fairly
far-fetched scenario, but only
because the Supreme Court of
Canada is not as highly politicized as the Supreme Court of
the United States, where a
roughly analogous scenario
played out nearly a decade ago.
During the 2000 U.S. presidential election, the improbably
narrow margin of victory by
George W. Bush over Al Gore in
the state of Florida triggered a
mandatory recount under Florida law. When Florida Secretary
of State Kathleen Harris sought
to halt the recount and certify
Bush as the victor, Gore brought
a legal challenge to continue the
recount, which succeeded in the
state and federal appeals courts.
However, the Supreme Court of
the United States decided Bush
v. Gore in very predictable fashion, with the conservative majority (all having been appointed by
Republican presidents) overturning the lower courts and
halting the recount, effectively
handing the presidency to
George W. Bush.
Each of the four dissenting
judges issued separate reasons
for judgment, but easily the most
frequently cited (and in fact, one
of the most famous dissents in
the history of American jurisprudence) is that of Justice John
Paul Stevens, who wrote,
“Although we may never know
with complete certainty the
identity of the winner of this
year’s Presidential election, the
identity of the loser is perfectly
clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”
Justice Stevens has been in
the news a lot lately. On Jan. 20,
he rendered another high profile, strongly-worded dissent
(joined by the other three liberal
members of the court) in
Citizens United v. Federal Election
Commission, where the majority
overruled decades of well-established precedent and held that
spending limits could not be
imposed on corporations during
election campaigns. On April 9,
Stevens announced that he
would be retiring from the
Supreme Court at the end of the
current term, after nearly 35
years of service. On April 20, he
celebrated his 90th birthday,
becoming just the second U.S.
Supreme Court justice (after
Oliver Wendell Holmes) to
achieve that distinction.
Now, a new biography of Ste-
vens by Bill Barnhart and Gene
Schlickman (John Paul Stevens:
An Independent Life, Northern
Illinois University Press, 2010)
provides further insight into his
judicial philosophy, while also
painting the picture of a high
court that differs fundamentally
from the Supreme Court of Can-
ada, though not necessarily for
Jay Brecher has co-authored
numerous legal textbooks,
including Halsbury’s Laws of
Canada: Judges and Courts
(with Lorne Sossin and Philip