Antonio Lamer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Antonio Lamer
16th Chief Justice of Canada
In office
July 1, 1990 – January 6, 2000
Nominated byBrian Mulroney
Appointed byRay Hnatyshyn
Preceded byBrian Dickson
Succeeded byBeverley McLachlin
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
In office
March 28, 1980 – July 1, 1990
Nominated byPierre Trudeau
Appointed byEdward Schreyer
Preceded byLouis-Philippe Pigeon
Succeeded byWilliam Stevenson
Puisne Judge of the Court of Appeal of Quebec
In office
2nd Communications Security Establishment Commissioner
In office
June 19, 2003 – August 1, 2006
Preceded byClaude Bisson
Succeeded byCharles Gonthier
Personal details
Born(1933-07-08)July 8, 1933
Montreal, Quebec
DiedNovember 24, 2007(2007-11-24) (aged 74)
Ottawa, Ontario
(m. 1987)
Alma materUniversité de Montréal
Military service
AllegianceCanadian Army
Years of service1950–1960

Joseph Antonio Charles Lamer PC CC CD (July 8, 1933 – November 24, 2007) was a Canadian lawyer, jurist and the 16th Chief Justice of Canada.


Lamer practised in partnership at the firm of Cutler, Lamer, Bellemare and Associates and was a full professor in the Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal, where he was also a lecturer in criminology.[citation needed]

On December 19, 1969, at the age of 36, he was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court and to the Queen's Bench (Crown Side) of the province of Quebec. In 1978, he was elevated to the Quebec Court of Appeal and was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1980. Brian Mulroney named Lamer as Chief Justice on July 1, 1990.[1]

On January 7, 2000, Lamer took an unexpected early retirement after having served as chief justice for ten years.[2][1] Several years after his death, former judges spoke about the situation surrounding his retirement.[2] According to a 2011 article in The Globe and Mail, in February 1999, a "delegation of three veteran judges" including former Supreme Court judge John C. Major, selected by their colleagues met with Lamer to tell him that "his performance was not what it had been up until this time." To which he immediately responded, "Well, then I'll resign." Lamer finally agreed to resign following a second meeting with Justices Major, Peter Cory and Charles Gonthier in the spring of 1999. He announced in an August 1999 talk to the Canadian Bar Association, that he would be resigning from the Supreme Court in January 2000.[2]

After he retired, Lamer joined a large law firm, Stikeman Elliott, in a senior advisory role and was appointed associate professor of law at the Université de Montréal in 2000. He was appointed Communications Security Establishment Commissioner on June 19, 2003, a position he held until August 1, 2006. He also served as honorary colonel of the Governor General's Foot Guards.[citation needed]

In a CBC interview, Lamer described how the Supreme Court of Canada was transformed following the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms under then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau which expanded the role of the judiciary. Lamer described it as "somewhat of a shock to see their job description changed so fundamentally."[3] Eugene Meehan, who was Lamer's first executive legal officer at the Supreme Court of Canada described Lamer as "a foundational builder", who was "one of the key architects of how courts interpret" the 1982 Charter" ..."building on the work of his predecessor as chief justice, Brian Dickson."[1]

In March 2003, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador asked Lamer to head a high-profile inquiry into several wrongful convictions in Newfoundland[2] specifically to oversee an inquiry into how the criminal justice system dealt with three discredited murder convictions. The hearings lasted about three years. Lamer was tasked to conduct an investigation into the death of Catherine Carroll and the circumstances surrounding the resulting criminal proceedings against Gregory Parsons, and an investigation into the death of Brenda Young and the circumstances surrounding the resulting criminal proceedings against Randy Druken.[4] Lamer was also asked to inquire as to why Ronald Dalton's appeal of his murder conviction took eight years before it was brought on for a hearing in the Court of Appeal.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Lamer served in the Royal Canadian Artillery from 1950 to 1954 and in the Canadian Intelligence Corps from 1954 to 1960. In 1956, he graduated in law from the Université de Montréal and was called to the Bar of Quebec in 1957.

In 1987, he married Danièle Tremblay-Lamer, who was later appointed a judge on the Federal Court.

During his tenure he was well known among the bench to be a frequent consumer of alcohol, especially wine, and have various drug prescriptions to deal with his declining health. Various commentators and even other judges have vocally critiqued these habits of his as reason for him to resign from the court.[2]

He died in Ottawa of a cardiac condition on November 24, 2007,[3][6] and was entombed at the Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal.[7]


He was a Companion of the Order of Canada. He received honorary degrees from the Université de Moncton, University of Ottawa, Université de Montréal, University of Toronto, University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, University of British Columbia, and Saint Paul University.

From 1992 to 1998, Chief Justice Lamer was Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the 62nd (Shawinigan) Field Artillery Regiment, RCA.

Ribbon bars of Antonio Lamer
Coat of arms of Antonio Lamer
A Coronet rim Argent set alternately with maple leaves Gules and fleurs-de-lys Argent issuant therefrom a demi griffin Azure bearing in its dexter foreclaw an astrolabe Or and in its sinister foreclaw an ansul also Or.
Quarterly Azure and Argent overall a cross quarterly Argent and Gules in the first and fourth quarters a fleur-de-lys Argent in the second and third a maple leaf Gules.
On a grassy mound rising above barry wavy Argent and Azure two hounds Gules semé of ermine spots Argent langed Azure gorged with a coronet fleury Or.
VIAM INVENIAM AUT FACIAM. This Latin phrase means "I’ll either find a way or make one".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c MacCharles, Tonda (November 26, 2007). "Antonio Lamer, 74: Supreme Court chief justice". The Star. Ottawa. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Makin, Kirk; D'Aliesio, Renata (May 6, 2011). "Shedding some light on the decline of a lion in winter". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Former Supreme Court chief justice Antonio Lamer dies". CBC News. November 25, 2007. Archived from the original on November 27, 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  4. ^ Stewart, Monte (January 24, 2023). "Wrongfully convicted Randy Druken's case led to justice reforms in Newfoundland and Labrador". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 1, 2023. Mr. Druken's steadfastness about his innocence helped prompt the launch the Lamer Inquiry, a three-year, $7-million provincial probe of three overturned murder convictions in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  5. ^ "Government of Newfoundland Labrador News Release", June 21, 2006. Accessed November 26, 2007.
  6. ^ "Antonio Lamer n'est plus". La Presse. November 25, 2007. Archived from the original on December 6, 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  7. ^ Répertoire des personnages inhumés au cimetière ayant marqué l'histoire de notre société (in French). Montreal: Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery.
  8. ^ "Antonio LAMER". Canadian Heraldic Authority. Retrieved May 30, 2020.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the
62nd (Shawinigan) Field Artillery Regiment, RCA

Succeeded by