OTTAWA — Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon is retiring in September after five years on the high court.

Gascon, 58, is stepping down for personal and family reasons, the court announced Monday.

His Sept. 15 departure will create an opening for a judge from Quebec on the nine-member court.

Chief Justice Richard Wagner praised Gascon’s thoughtful, rigorous and collegial approach, saying it helped the court get to the heart of complex issues.

“He has served Canadians with integrity and wisdom,” Wagner said in a news release. “All of his colleagues will miss his commitment and friendship.”

Gascon was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 2002, specializing in commercial law matters such as restructurings and bankruptcies. He joined the Quebec Court of Appeal 10 years later and was named to the Supreme Court by Stephen Harper in June 2014.

Prior to his time on the bench, Gascon practised law for more than two decades in Montreal, focusing on civil and commercial litigation and labour law. He also taught at Quebec universities and contributed to a number of books and articles.

In the release, Gascon said he was profoundly grateful to those who have put their trust in him.

“I consider it a privilege to have been able to contribute over the last 17 years as (a) member of the Canadian judiciary,” he said. “It is an immense honour to have been part of a judiciary that, by its expertise, quality, and independence, is a model in Canada and around the world.”

Gascon’s successor will be the third appointee to the Supreme Court by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Wagner said he was confident that the “necessary care and consideration” will be given to the prompt appointment of a new justice.

Trudeau said in a tweet that former prime minister Kim Campbell will again lead the advisory board to examine prospective nominees.

However, the Conservatives are asking the government to pause the appointment process until the Liberals allow an investigation into leaks of information about a dispute between Trudeau and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould over who should be chief justice of Canada’s top court.

The Canadian Press and CTV reported last month that Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould were split over her recommendation that Glenn Joyal, chief justice of Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench, be appointed to the high court and become chief justice. Sources said the split was over Joyal’s conservative view of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Another leak a day later to the Globe and Mail suggested Wilson-Raybould wanted to elevate Joyal to the Supreme Court to make way for an Indigenous judge to take his place. The report also said Wilson-Raybould believed Wagner to be more conservative in his approach to the charter than Joyal.

Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt said Monday that highly qualified individuals may avoid applying until they can assured of confidentiality in the selection process.

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press