Politics

A day after being reported missing, SCC Justice Gascon 'in good health,' family says

The Supreme Court of Canada issued a statement today thanking police for their "professionalism" in dealing with Justice Clément Gascon's reported disappearance yesterday, but offered no explanation for the incident.

Chief Justice Wagner thanks Ottawa police, RCMP for professionalism and swift action

Supreme Court of Canada Justice Clement Gascon speaks during a welcoming ceremony at the Supreme Court of Canada Monday October 6, 2014 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Supreme Court of Canada issued a statement today thanking police for their "professionalism" in dealing with Justice Clément Gascon's reported disappearance yesterday, but offered no explanation for the incident.

"We wish to thank the RCMP and the Ottawa Police for their swift action and professionalism, and we thank everyone else for their care and concern," reads the statement from Chief Justice Richard Wagner.

A legal officer with the Supreme Court said the court would not discuss the incident further, out of respect for Gascon's privacy.

Ottawa police issued a notice Wednesday evening asking for the public's help in locating the 59-year-old Gascon. The police later reported on Twitter that he had been found safe.

The Gascon family issued their own statement, thanking members of the public for their expressions of concern and support.

"Known for his punctuality and diligence, Justice Gascon's uncharacteristic absence yesterday caused some concern. The family would like to reassure relatives and friends that he is in good health, and is with his family," the statement reads.

Retiring early for personal reasons

Gascon announced he was stepping down April 15 after five years on the highest court, citing "personal and family reasons." He is set to retire Sept. 15.

A Supreme Court spokesperson told CBC News that "Justice Gascon has served Canadians with integrity and wisdom throughout his career, and we have no concerns about his ability to stay on until September."

In a statement issued after Gascon announced his retirement, Chief Justice Wagner said "Justice Gascon has made a significant contribution to Canada and to Canadian jurisprudence during his judicial career.

"His thoughtful, rigorous and collegial approach has always helped us get to the heart of the most complex issues. He has served Canadians with integrity and wisdom. All of his colleagues will miss his commitment and friendship."

Born in Montreal in 1960, Gascon taught business, labour and construction law at the Université du Québec and McGill University and for the Quebec bar.

He was appointed to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2012 after serving on the bench of the Quebec Superior Court from 2002.

Former NDP MP and lawyer Francoise Boivin said the legal community has many questions about what happened with Gascon, but answers don't see to be forthcoming.

She said members of the legal community are wondering why Gascon is stepping down some 15 years before mandatory retirement and just five years in his mandate, and whether he will still be hearing cases and rendering decisions until he leaves.

It's not clear when Gascon will return to work. Supreme Court justices have seven scheduled cases to hear over the rest of May.

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