Politics

Supreme Court's new justices join the bench

The Supreme Court of Canada's newest justices were welcomed to the bench in a ceremony in Ottawa on Monday.
New Supreme Court of Canada justices Michael Moldaver, left, and Andromache Karakatsanis attend a welcoming ceremony in Ottawa, Monday. They were named to the court by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last month and were sworn in privately before Monday's formal welcoming ceremony. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

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  • 2 new justices nominated Oct. 17, 2011
  • Justice Andromache Karakatsanis, 56
  • Justice Michael Moldaver, 63

The Supreme Court of Canada's newest justices were welcomed to the nation's top court in a ceremony in Ottawa Monday.

Justices Andromache Karakatsanis and Michael Moldaver were appointed by the Harper government on Oct. 17 from a list of six candidates compiled through a selection process that included input from the opposition.

The nominees appeared before a Commons committee two days later to answer MPs' questions, and Moldaver's lack of fluency in French drew the most attention. Moldaver promised to do "everything in my power in the years ahead to become more proficient in the French language."

Moldaver delivered a few lines in French during his remarks at Monday's ceremony and said he is humbled by his appointment. He joked that "red has never really been my colour."

"I will do my best to carry out my duties with honour and integrity," he said. "I am deeply moved to be here and very humbled by my appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada."

Karakatsanis and Moldaver were sworn in earlier in a private ceremony and Monday marked the public welcoming to their new positions.

Both come from the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Moldaver was appointed to that court in 1995 while Karakatsanis joined it in 2010.

"It took me 15 years on the Court of Appeal to get here, it took you 19 months," Moldaver joked to Karakatsanis. His sense of humour was on full display during his speech and Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin noted that he is known for his "abundance of wit."

"I look forward to the energy and dedication that Justice Moldaver will contribute to the court," she said.

McLachlin said she is also looking forward to working with Karakatsanis and described her as a judge that is open-minded and takes her mandate very seriously.

"Her broad experience has undoubtedly allowed her to become an exceptional judge," said McLachlin. "As a colleague, I have met a warm, cooperative and organized person."

Karakatsanis said that she is filled with excitement about her appointment, and "more than a little apprehension."

"It's an extraordinary personal moment for me and for my family. But it's also an important public occasion," she said. "I am awed by the historic and defining role that the Supreme Court of Canada plays for Canada and for Canadians."

The ceremony at the Supreme Court was attended by friends and family of the new justices, legal dignitaries from Ontario and throughout the country, and by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who also delivered an address on behalf of the government.

"I have every confidence that you will continue to distinguish yourselves in your new role to the benefit of the court and the nation," Nicholson said.

Supreme Court Justices pose for a group photograph prior to the swearing-in of Justice Michael Moldaver and Justice Andromache Karakatsanis in Ottawa Monday. Front row, left to right, Justices Morris Fish, Louis LeBel, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, Marie Deschamps, Rosalie Abella. Back row, left to right Michael Moldaver, Marshall Rothstein, Thomas Cromwell, and Andromche Karakatsanis. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

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