The Court’s first hearing fully by video-conference

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

Good morning, and welcome to our virtual courtroom – the first fully virtual courtroom in the history of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On a more usual day, we would be in the courtroom in Ottawa, and I would introduce the case and counsel. But, as we are all very much aware, this is not a usual day. And these are not usual times. So I wanted to say a few words about that.

First, I’d like to thank the parties and counsel who are with us today, and those who will join us later this week. My colleagues and I are grateful for your collaboration and flexibility. We have had to make adjustments, and learn new technologies, and your patience and resourcefulness has made that work smoother. The hearing today will be the first in the Court’s history that will happen entirely by video-conference. Last year, we at the Court were very proud to take our courtroom to Winnipeg. This week, between judges, counsel, media, and public observers, our courtroom will be in dozens of different offices, living rooms, and other locations across Canada. This isn’t what any of us expected when we set dates for the hearings this week, but here we are – and so far so good.

Second, this is new. None of us have never done this before. There will be hiccups. There may even be unexpected visits by children or pets. That’s okay. There are some things that are beyond our control, like the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept us all at home and sickened or taken so many Canadians, possibly even your own loved ones. We are adapting, and nothing is perfect the first time. Just remember that we are here for your arguments, not the angle of your camera or your facility with the mute button. We will get through this hearing, just as we will get through this pandemic.

Finally, to those of you watching online as observers through Zoom or on our webcast, I’m glad that you can join us. We have a strong open court system in Canada, and I believe it’s important for everyone to see their justice system in action. Except in very limited cases, our hearings are always webcast online, whether we are in the courtroom in Ottawa or not. You can always tune in on our website live, or watch archived hearings later. I encourage you to do so.

Thank you, and let’s begin.


Remarks by the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, P.C.
Chief Justice of Canada
On the occasion of the Court’s first hearing
fully by video-conference

Online (via Zoom)
June 9, 2020