Words of Welcome on the occasion of the Court's first sitting outside of Ottawa

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Remarks by the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, P.C.
Chief Justice of Canada

Good morning, everyone. Normally, at this point, I would simply introduce the case and the lawyers, and we would get started. But today is special, as you are all aware, and I want to take a moment to recognize that.

First, to everyone here but especially to those in the public gallery, welcome. We are so happy to welcome you to the Supreme Court of Canada, sitting here in Winnipeg. This is an historic moment. It is the first time in history the Supreme Court has sat outside of Ottawa. I hope it will not be the last.

Winnipeg has extended us a very warm welcome. All of us have been touched by the city’s hospitality and generosity. We are looking forward to speaking with even more Manitobans in the coming days.

I am very glad to see so many people here to watch the proceedings and learn more about our justice system. I often say that the Supreme Court isn’t an ivory tower. Every Canadian is welcome to walk through our doors and sit in our courtroom. Part of the reason we’re here today is to make that a little easier for people who can’t easily travel to Ottawa to see Canada’s highest court in person. But it’s not just the Supreme Court that extends this welcome. We have a strong and open court system in Canada, and you can visit virtually any court in the country and watch the proceedings, including the courtrooms right here in this building. I encourage you to do so if you can.

At the Supreme Court, our essential task is to make independent and impartial decisions about issues that matter to Canadians. Even as we decide cases between individual parties, we clarify the law for everyone. That is why it is important that people understand how and why a given decision was reached. It is hard to have faith in something if you don’t understand it. This is why I believe it is so important for people to see how the justice system works, in person, as those in the public gallery will today.

My colleagues and I hope you will also join us this afternoon at a special event to mark this historic occasion. We will be at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at 3 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

Finally, we extend our sincere thanks to the Manitoba Court of Appeal for hosting us, and to the parties and counsel in both appeals for agreeing to be heard here.

And with that, let’s begin.


Remarks by the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, P.C.
Chief Justice of Canada
On the occasion of the Court’s first sitting outside of Ottawa
Winnipeg, Manitoba
September 25, 2019