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This article was published 13/5/2019 (895 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For two days in September the courtroom of Manitoba's highest court will become the home of the Supreme Court of Canada — the first time in history the country's highest court has held hearings outside of the nation's capital.
And, according to Manitoba Court of Appeal Chief Justice Richard Chartier, it's all due to Manitobans themselves.
Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Richard Wagner and the rest of the high court's justices will leave Ottawa for the first time in the institution's 144 years on Sept. 25 and 26.
Wagner has said since being appointed to the position that he'd like to see the court go on the road as a way to be closer and more relevant to Canadians and now that talk is being put into action.
"It's important for us to be more accessible to all Canadians, because the Supreme Court is your court," Wagner said in a statement Monday.
"This will be an opportunity for more Canadians to see the court at work, live, right in front of them. We're very excited to go to Winnipeg and to welcome Manitobans into their court."
Chartier said Wagner told him that when he and his wife were in Winnipeg in 2016 they had a wonderful time.
"They hadn't been in Winnipeg for a while and they were impressed with the beauty and the vibrancy of the city," he said.
"The water taxis, the human rights museum, the arts community and most of all the multiculturalism, the bilingualism and the friendliness of the city. He said Winnipeg is where east meets west; it is the microcosm of Canada.
'This will be an opportunity for more Canadians to see the court at work, live, right in front of them.' – Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Richard Wagner
"Yes, I believe it was the people they met that made them feel at home here... we're so pleased and honoured for it."
Chartier said besides the two cases the judges will hear — a Manitoba man appealing his convictions on charges of sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching of his stepdaughter should be stayed because the judge took nine months to render a verdict, and a language-rights appeal from British Columbia — they will also participate in 10 outreach events with the public, students, Indigenous, francophone and legal communities.
Chartier said the Supreme Court justices will be able to use the courtroom and Appeal Court offices because the visit will fall during the same time as an annual conference of appeal court judges.
It's not unprecedented for the high courts to go on the road; Quebec and B.C. Appeal Courts have held hearings in other communities in their provinces.
Veteran criminal defence lawyer Greg Brodsky, who said he's appeared in the Supreme Court "hundreds of times," said the court's travels make things more convenient for clients.
"For lawyers like me, I know what the issues are. I'm a pretty focused guy. Whether I'm making my argument here or there I will still make my argument. The advantage is, the client here will be able to attend. Not everyone can afford to fly to Ottawa.
"But for me, I assume I'll have a good hearing wherever I go, but this way the client will know what the fight is about."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.