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New Supreme Court justice proud of 'demystifying' processes at the top bench

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Trust in the Canadian justice system depends on clear communication to the public, Canada's newest Supreme Court justice said as she was officially welcomed to the country's highest court.

A welcoming ceremony was held Monday for Justice Mary Moreau, who was sworn in as a Supreme Court judge in November.

Her appointment means a majority of the nine justices on the Supreme Court are women for the first time in its history.

Moreau was called the bar in Alberta in 1980, and served as a lawyer for 14 years. In 1994, she was appointed a judge to the Court of King's Bench of Alberta. She became the chief justice of the Court of King's Bench of Alberta in 1997.

During her speech, Moreau recounted how an experience early in her career as a judge shaped her professional beliefs.

She recalled when she first started working as a judge she overheard a senior colleague commenting on her age and professional experience.

"The only reply I could muster was, 'Well, as my dear mother used to say, the proof is in the pudding.' And it's been my motto ever since."

Moreau said Canadians must be able to recognize themselves in the justice system without feeling like they've been marginalized or excluded.

And she said she is proud the court is trying to make its work more accessible to the public by using plain language on its website and in decision summaries and by streaming its hearings online.

She added Canada's laws must be respectful of human rights and be interpreted in a timely, open and accessible process.

In addition to her judicial appointments, Moreau also chaired the judicial advisory committee for military judge appointments, and was a member of the Canadian Judicial Council for seven years. Moreau was also a member of the national advisory committee on judicial ethics from 2014 to 2017.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Arif Virani called Moreau a "trailblazer" who has been at the forefront of advocating for the rights of francophones.

"I have absolute confidence you will help shape our justice system for the future, putting people at the centre of our responses and seeking to leave no one behind," he said.

Moreau replaces Russell Brown, who retired from the Supreme Court last June amid a probe by the Canadian Judicial Council into alleged misconduct stemming from an event at an Arizona. Brown had been on leave from the court for several months before he retired.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2024. 

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