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Justice Jamal will be a valuable asset to Canada’s highest court: PM

ByAnirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Amit Chanda
Jun 19, 2021 11:23 AM IST

Mahmud Jamal will be the first person of Indian-origin to be a Supreme Court justice once he assumes office after the retirement of an incumbent.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Mahmud Jamal, who will be the first person of Indian-origin to be a Supreme Court justice, will be a valuable asset to Canada’s highest court.

Mahmud Jamal, an Indian-origin judge at Ontario’s court of appeal has been nominated to Canada’s Supreme Court. (REUTERS)

A statement from the prime minister’s office described him as having “had a distinguished career as a litigator with a deep commitment to pro bono work”. Trudeau said, “I know that justice Jamal, with his exceptional legal and academic experience and dedication to serving others, will be a valuable asset to our country’s highest court.”

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Earlier, Trudeau had nominated Jamal, an Ontario judge to Supreme Court. Once he assumes that position after the retirement of an incumbent judge, he will become the first person of Indian-origin to be a Supreme Court justice in Canada.

Jamal is currently a justice at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, to which he was appointed in 2019.

He was born in Kenya in 1967 to parents from India, and two years later the family immigrated to the England. In 1981, they moved to Canada, settling in the city of Edmonton in Alberta.

Narrating his experience in a questionnaire for Supreme Court candidates, he said, “Like many others, I experienced discrimination as a fact of daily life. As a child and youth, I was taunted and harassed because of my name, religion, or the colour of my skin.”

Justice Jamal was the first in his family to attend university, spending a year at the London School of Economics before obtaining an economics degree from the University of Toronto. He then moved to McGill University in Montreal to complete the national programme in common law and Quebec civil law, before receiving a graduate law degree from Yale Law School.

While he grew up in the Ismaili Muslim tradition, he is a practising member of the minuscule Baha’i faith. “These experiences exposed me to some of the challenges and aspirations of immigrants, religious minorities, and racialised persons. My perspectives on these issues have broadened and deepened over more than 25 years as a lawyer and judge,” he wrote.

The judge is married with two teenage children.

He was earlier a director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and has taught constitutional law at McGill University and administrative law at Osgoode Hall Law School, which is in York University in Toronto.

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