Kasirer praised for keen mind, collegiality at Supreme Court welcoming ceremony

OTTAWA — Colleagues praised Nicholas Kasirer as a nimble legal mind and devoted professional Monday at a ceremony to welcome the newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The fluently bilingual Kasirer served on the Quebec Court of Appeal for a decade and spent 20 years as a professor of law at Montreal’s McGill University, including as dean of the law faculty.

Kasirer was confirmed as a high court judge in August after being nominated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He officially joined the Supreme Court on Sept. 16.

During the courtroom ceremony, Chief Justice Richard Wagner said Kasirer had demonstrated a deep sense of collegiality, devotion and pride in his work.

“And he personifies the bilingual and bijural foundations of our institution,” Wagner said. “It is obvious that he’s already a fantastic addition to this bench. My colleagues could not agree more.”

David Lametti, justice minister in Trudeau’s most recent cabinet, noted Kasirer has joined the court at a time when it looks to be more accessible to Canadians.

“I’m confident that Justice Kasirer will help advance these efforts.”

Lametti also highlighted the judge’s commitment to family and child law, including how it treats the economic situation of women.

Peers have described Kasirer as unassuming, kind and self-effacing — someone willing to engage meaningfully with others at McGill about their research, said Ross Earnshaw, president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

“Judging by your past writings, you possess a deep historical sensibility about how this country was built and the essential role this court plays in sustaining a dialogue between our different legal traditions, including Indigenous law,” Earnshaw said.

Kasirer spoke with fondness for and gratitude to his family and friends, McGill University and the judges past and present of the Quebec appeal court.

He gave little hint about his approach to being a Supreme Court justice.

However, in his application for the position, made public in July, he suggested that being a judge meant balancing the need for both caution and courage in the pursuit of justice.

“I sense that Canadians want judges who are modest of temperament and who, in proposing themselves for public service, see their ‘most significant contribution to the law’ lying ahead of them rather more than as a trophy on an office shelf.”

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2019.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

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