‘A different perspective’: Justice Mahmud Jamal on minority rights, bilingualism and the Supreme Court Social Sharing

Of interest:

Settling into an imposing red leather armchair in a wood-panelled office in Ottawa, Justice Mahmud Jamal recalled his anxious first moments in this country as a 14-year-old immigrant.

“I remember the first day here very well. I was scared,” he told Radio-Canada in a recent interview, describing the path that took him to the nation’s highest court — first from Kenya to England, then to Edmonton in 1981 for high school.

“I was scared for a lot of reasons. I left all my friends. I left a culture where I had spent my whole life. But at the same time, it was an opportunity to start life again.”

Coming from a modest family that moved halfway around the world in search of a better life, Jamal rose through the ranks of the Canadian legal world after graduating from McGill University’s law school. He was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice in July 2021.

It’s a position he hopes to use to protect the rights of minorities and other historically disadvantaged groups — something he wrote about when completing his application to sit on Canada’s top court.

Jamal is the first person of colour to be nominated to Canada’s top court. He’s also a member of a religious minority.

Jamal grew up Muslim in the Ismaili community before converting to the Baha’i faith like his wife, who is an Iranian refugee.

He told Radio-Canada that his personal experience is an asset for the court, just like the personal experiences of each of his fellow Supreme Court justices.

“If you are a woman, if you are a man, if you are even a member of a minority, you bring your experience to work. I have experiences as a member of a visible minority, of a religious minority, so it gives a different perspective,” he said.

Source: ‘A different perspective’: Justice Mahmud Jamal on minority rights, bilingualism and the Supreme Court Social Sharing

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: