Robert Taschereau

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Robert Taschereau | Copyright Dominique Clément / Clément Consulting

Robert Taschereau, who served with Roy Lindsay Kellock on the 1946 espionage commission, came from a long line of French Canadian lawyers and judges. Like those of many Quebec judges, his decisions reflected a conservative, pro-state ideology that favoured provincial jurisdiction. He dissented in the Roncarelli and Saumur cases and was the only judge to dissent in the Padlock case. In defending the Padlock decision, Taschereau argued the following:

“L’experience, il nous est permis d’en prendre une connaissance judiciaire, nous enseigne, en effet, que des Canadiens, il y a moins de dix ans, malgré les serments d’allégeance qu’ils avaient prêtés, n’ont pas hésité au nom du communisme à violer les secrets officiels, et à mettre en péril la sécurité de l’État. La suppression de la diffusion de ces doctrines subversives par des sanctions civiles, est sûrement aussi important que la suppression des maisons de désordre. Je demeure convaincu que le domaine du droite criminel, exclusivement de la compétence fédéral, n’a pas été envahi par la législation en question, et qu’il ne s’agit que de sanctions civiles établis pour la prevention des crimes et la sécurité du pays” (Switzman v. Elbling, [1957] S.C.R. 285 at 299).

A Supreme Court of Canada biography of Kellock states,

“Robert Taschereau was born in Quebec City, Quebec, on September 10, 1896. He was the son of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau and Aline Dionne, and the grandson of Jean-Thomas Taschereau, who had been a judge on the Supreme Court of Canada. He studied at Laval University, earning a B.A. in 1916 and an LL.L. four years later. Called to the bar in 1920, he joined his father’s law firm, Taschereau, Roy, Cannon, Parent & Casgrain, in Quebec City. He also taught criminal law part-time at Laval for 11 years. In keeping with family tradition, he entered politics and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec in 1930. He was a member of the Assembly until 1936. On February 9, 1940, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, filling the vacancy created by the death of his former law partner, Lawrence Cannon. In 1946, along with his colleague on the Court, Justice Kellock, he co-chaired the Royal Commission on Spying Activities in Canada, which was set up as a result of the so-called “Gouzenko Affair.” On April 22, 1963, he was appointed Chief Justice of Canada. He served on the Supreme Court for 27 years, retiring on September 1, 1967. Chief Justice Taschereau died on July 26, 1970, at the age of 73.” “The Honourable Mr. Robert Taschereau,” www.scc-csc.gc.ca