The Hon. John C. Major, C.C., Q.C. of Calgary wins 2015 CBA President’s Award

  • August 12, 2015

CALGARY – The Hon. John C. Major of Calgary, former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, is the recipient of the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) 2015 President’s Award.

The award recognizes the significant contribution of a Canadian jurist to the legal profession, to the CBA or to the public life of Canada.

“Throughout a career that has spanned close to six decades, the Hon. John Major has excelled at everything he has embarked on, from law practice to the judiciary – both at the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada – to a commissioner of a federal public inquiry to counsel and consultant,” said CBA President Michele Hollins, Q.C., of Calgary in making the announcement.

He began his career as a corporate litigator at Bennett Jones in Calgary where he won cases that brought changes in local provincial and federal policies and legislation.  After 34 years in practice, he was named to the bench where he served on the Alberta Court of Appeal for a year-and-a-half before moving to Ottawa to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada in 1992.

During his tenure at the Supreme Court he presided over some 1,000 cases.  He dealt with issues ranging from Quebec sovereignty, to assisted suicide, to child pornography, to the ban on private medical care.

He wrote majority reasons in 1999’s R. v. Ewanchuk which asserted that there is no defence of implied consent in sexual assault cases. In other words, “no means no.”

After retiring from the Supreme Court of Canada in 2005, he returned to private legal practice at Bennett Jones in Calgary. Shortly after that, he was named commissioner of the federal public inquiry into the bombing of Air India Flight 182.  The five-volume, 4,000-page report was released in 2010.

He currently acts as a consultant at Bennett Jones. His area of practice includes mediation, arbitration, corporate governance and consultation. He also mentors lawyers and staff at his firm.

He received his Queen's Counsel in 1972. He is a member of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice and the Canadian Judges Conference. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2008.

The President’s Award takes the form of engraved brass scales of justice. The award will be presented at the President’s dinner on Wednesday, Aug. 12 during the 2015 CBA Legal Conference in Calgary, Aug. 13-16. The conference is open to accredited media. Please contact Hannah Bernstein for accreditation.

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries in Quebec, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.

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