Retiring Chief Justice Winkler presides over Opening of Courts

Posted: 09/26/2013

Retiring Chief Justice Warren K. WinklerMembers of Ontario’s Bench and Bar gathered on September 24, for an Opening of Courts ceremony to mark the beginning of the legal season.

Held at the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, Chief Justice Warren Winkler presided over the ceremony, together with Chief Justices Heather Smith and Annemarie Bonkalo. During his tenure, Chief Justice Winkler has made the event a more celebratory occasion.

“The Opening of Courts has always been profoundly meaningful to me. Since becoming Chief Justice more than six years ago, I have worked to increase the prominence of this occasion,” he said.

In welcoming judiciary from across the province and Québec, members of the Bar as well as paralegals, administrators, OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, Justice Winkler acknowledged the courts as the “hallmark of a free and democratic society.”

It was the final ceremony in which Justice Winkler will participate as Chief. In December, he will reach the age of mandatory retirement.

Chief Justice Winkler’s full remarks are available here.

The Honourable David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, thanked Chief Justice Winkler and members of the judiciary for their hard work and dedication to the administration of justice.

The Honourable John Gerretsen, the Attorney General of Ontario, outlined the success of access to justice initiatives undertaken during the Chief Justice’s tenure. A representative of the Attorney General of Canada also delivered greetings.

Chief Justice Heather Smith of the Superior Court of Justice and Chief Justice Annemarie Bonkalo of the Ontario Court of Justice, described how each court is adapting to the demands of Ontarians while ensuring access to justice.

Chief Justice Smith’s remarks are available here.

Chief Justice Bonkalo’s remarks are available here.

The Opening of Courts ceremony was preceded by a Special Divine Interfaith Service at the Church of the Holy Trinity.

Representatives from many faith communities offered readings. The service included musical performances, some of which featured soloist Justice Julie Thorburn, the Jarvis Collegiate children’s Choir and the Bar and Bench Choir. Her Honour Mrs. Ruth Ann Onley performed a rousing rendition of Amazing Grace.

A moment of silence was held in honour of members of Ontario’s Bar who recently passed away.

In addressing the guests at the Opening of the Courts Ceremony, Law Society Treasurer Thomas Conway called on the judiciary to renew each year their commitment to making justice accessible to all Ontarians.