Madam Justice Bertha Wilson: A Different Voice in the Supreme Court of Canada


  • Elizabeth Halka



This article discusses the impact of the appointment of Madam Justice Wilson, the first woman judge, to the Supreme Court of Canada. The author explores the thesis that Justice Wilson provided a "different voice" to the highest court of Canada with an analysis of two opposing forces underlying her work. On the one hand. Justice Wilson adhered to the restraints of judicial decision-making regarding principles of law and community morality. On the other hand, with the influence of psychologist Carol Gilligan, Justice Wilson aspired to infuse Canadian jurisprudence with a "feminine morality" comprised of a contextual humanist approach to justice. The author applies this analysis to the jurisprudence of Madam Justice Wilson. With a detailed examination of R. v. Morgentaler and R. v. Lavallee, the author demonstrates Justice Wilson's ability to look beyond traditional abstract principles of justice and its normative standard. Justice Wilson constructed a legal framework, based on a contextual justice, that took a subjective and holistic view of the issues of the court. This article concludes with an outlook of the manner in which Madam Justice Wilson's mode of analysis will impact Canadian jurisprudence.