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Ontario Chief Justice George Strathy to retire in August, 11 months before his retirement date

Justice Strathy informed colleagues that he has accomplished what he set out to achieve.

PHOTO: Stock
Ontario Chief Justice George Strathy will retire on August 31, 2022, 11 months before his mandatory retirement date on July 23, 2023, his 75th birthday. Justice Strathy informed his colleagues of his decision at an appeal court meeting on June 3.

According to legal writer Julius Melnitzer, Chief Justice Strathy, who was appointed in 2014, followed up with a group message to ensure his colleagues heard the news directly from him. He wrote that the โ€œtime is right for the Court of Appeal, and it is right to me.โ€

Justice Strathy wrote that the court was as โ€œhealthy and vibrant as it has ever been,โ€ having successfully transitioned into the digital age. However, he noted that emerging from the pandemic challenges has created an opportunity to chart a new course in which a new chief justice could build on the courtโ€™s achievements, set new future priorities, and implement them in the long term.

โ€œThe time is right for me because I have accomplished what I set out to achieve when appointed chief justice years ago.โ€ Justice Strathy pointed out that he is in good health, and he and his wife are ready for new adventures.

Chris Rudnicki, lead counsel at Rudnicki & Company, spoke to Law Times about Chief Justice Strathy. Rudnicki says Strathy is a bold, thoughtful, and compassionate leader and jurist who set the standard for public service in the legal profession.

โ€œHe has taken a leadership role in speaking out against inequality and systemic discrimination, exceedingly rare for a judicial officer. He models the lawyer as public servant through his support for causes like Lawyers Feed the Hungry โ€“ even rolling up his sleeves and serving trays in the cafeteria himself. I wish him a happy and fulfilling retirement.โ€

Gerald Chan, a partner at Stockwoods LLP, says that Chief Justice Strathy has been an inspiring and innovative leader in many ways, including his commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

โ€œHe proactively reached out to equity-seeking and deserving groups, including the organization I was previously president of [the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers Ontario], to find creative ways of making the courts more inclusive for the lawyers and litigants appearing before them.โ€ The administration of justice will miss Justice Strathy and has been lucky to have him, Chan wrote.

Several lawyers also expressed admiration for the chief justice on Twitter.

Founder of Durant Barristers, Erin Durant, tweeted that she has been very impressed with her interactions with Justice Strathy. Durant further informed Law Times that the chief justice has been instrumental in some significant changes at the Court of Appeal, including encouraging the participation of junior counsel in oral argument.

โ€œHis recentย articleย on mental health for litigators and his passionate remarks about the issue were particularly touching for me. Whoever takes over as chief justice, has huge shoes to fill,โ€ Durant says.

Litigation lawyer, Gib Van Hert, tweeted that Justice Strathy is a thoughtful chief justice and a lovely man. โ€œWe are fortunate to have people like this in our judiciary.โ€


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