Mahmoud Jamal said that being the first person of color nominated by the Supreme Court is “a huge responsibility”
The Supreme Court’s nominated Justice Mahmoud Jamal told members of Congress and Senators today that he was nominated as the first person of color to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. The trust of the judicial system.
Jamal reflected on his historic nomination during a Q&A session with the Parliamentary Justice and Human Rights Committee on Tuesday afternoon.
“I know the responsibility,” Jamal told the committee members. “I am very, very aware of the responsibilities that this role brings.”
Watch: Supreme Court nominee Mahmoud Jamal discusses judicial radicalism
Jamal was nominated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to enter the court on June 18. Since 2019, he has served on the Ontario Court of Appeals.
Jamal was born into an Ismore Muslim family in Kenya. He originally came from India. When Jamal was about 14, his family moved to England and then to Edmonton.
If appointed, Jamal will replace the seat vacated by Justice Rosalie Abella, and she will retire from the court on July 1, which is her 75th birthday.
If his nomination is confirmed, Jamal will become the 88th judge in the court’s 140-year history.
Jamal says more diversity “will generate trust”
In response to a question about the importance of his nomination to the court, Jamal recalled his appointment to the Ontario Court of Appeals in 2019.
He said he was “underwhelmed” by the reaction of people of color in the legal profession after his appointment.
He said that the response to his latest nomination had “multiplied”, reflecting the desire for better representation in the judiciary.
“Anyone from a racialized community or a minority group has a huge responsibility, so I am very, very aware of this,” Jamal said in a virtual appearance with the committee.
“What people are saying is that they do see public institutions open to them. They have hope. They can see their faces reflected in the judiciary. I think it gives people a sense of ambition. I think it creates trust in public institutions. .”
“Reconciliation is respect”
Jamal is not allowed to answer questions about his legal opinions or his views on possible cases before the Supreme Court-although members of Congress did comb out some of his broader views on the law and the duties of judges.
He also talked about the role of the judicial system in reconciling with indigenous peoples.
“I think reconciliation is respect,” Jamal said.
He described a summer when he worked in the Metis Council of Alberta before entering law school, which was a turning point in his understanding of indigenous issues.
“It was an eye-opening experience for me,” Jamal said. “It started to free me from a lot of stereotypes because I think we all have unconscious biases to some degree.”
According to his guide, Jamal did not directly answer questions about the recently adopted United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
But in an earlier answer, he promised to make a clear and “reasonable” brief ruling on the case before the court.
He said: “Ordinary Canadians have the right to know what their Supreme Court is saying, what it is deciding and why it decides that way.”