Supreme Court Hearings in Winnipeg

Wednesday, September 25 and Thursday, September 26
Winnipeg Law Courts | 408 York Avenue, Winnipeg

The Supreme Court of Canada visited Winnipeg to hear two appeals and meet with Manitobans and various communities. It was the first time in history the Court sat outside of Ottawa.

Cases to be heard

Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada

Photo Credits

  • Supreme Court of Canada Collection: Justices Abella, Côté and Kasirer – Philippe Landreville, photographer | Justice Karakatsanis – Jessica Deeks Photography | Justices Brown and Rowe – Andrew Balfour Photography

Information about the Supreme Court of Canada

Did you know?

  • The SCC is the only bilingual (two languages) and bijural (two legal systems) supreme court in the world. We work and decide cases in French and English, in all areas of law (such as family, criminal, and tax law). We decide cases from Canada’s two major legal traditions (common law and civil law).
  • Three of the nine judges have to be from Quebec. Traditionally, there are also three judges from Ontario, two from the West, and one from Atlantic Canada.
  • Five judges from Manitoba have previously served on the Supreme Court of Canada:
  • The SCC’s current Registrar, Mr. Roger Bilodeau, is from Manitoba.

Practical information for visitors

  • The Manitoba Courts have a video explaining what to expect when attending court.
  • Location
    • The hearings will be held in Courtroom 330 of the Winnipeg Law Courts building at 408 York Avenue. Enter via the main entrance on York Street.
    • The building will open at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday.
  • Security
    • Get there early to give yourself lots of time to get through security (like airport security).
  • Seating in the courtroom
    • Seats will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis with a ticket. Tickets will be available outside the entrance at 408 York Avenue.
    • We expect the courtroom will be busy. To accommodate as many people as possible, there will be an overflow room available where people can watch the hearings on a video screen.
    • To make sure as many people can see the hearings in person as possible, there may be a rotation system. People would be rotated into the courtroom from the overflow room on a regular basis.
    • Members of the public can leave the courtroom at any time they wish. To avoid causing a disturbance, it may be best to wait until there is a seating rotation or a court break.
  • Other information
    • Food and drinks are not allowed in the courtroom.
    • Out of respect, please remove hats when entering the courtroom. (Religious head coverings are of course okay.)
    • The cases being heard are important for all Canadians, but especially to the parties and interveners involved. Please be respectful. The sheriff or police may remove anyone who disrespects the proceedings or causes a disturbance.

The courtroom

  • The judges will be seated at the bench in order of seniority to the right and left of the Chief Justice.
  • The appellants will be sitting on your left if you are facing the judges.
  • The respondents will be sitting on your right.
  • Interveners will sit on either side behind the appellants and respondents.
  • Members of the media will be seated at the back of the public gallery.
  • Court staff will sit on the left and right walls.

During the hearing

  • When the judges enter the courtroom, everyone should stand. This is to show respect for the Court and for our justice system, which we trust to decide cases fairly and impartially.
  • At the beginning of the hearing, the Chief Justice will recognize all the lawyers by name.
  • The appellant (the side or “party” that appealed the lower court’s decision) will make its arguments first.
  • Some interveners (government representatives and interest groups offering a different point of view from the parties) will make their arguments next. They will each have five minutes.
  • The respondent (the party that opposes the appellants) will make its arguments after.
  • Other interveners will make their arguments after the respondent. Again, they each have five minutes.
  • The appellant will have a chance to make a short reply at the end.
  • The judges will have already read everyone’s written arguments, and may interrupt to ask questions.
  • There will be breaks during the proceedings. You should stand again when the judges leave and return to the courtroom.
  • Judges or lawyers may speak in either English or French during the hearing. There will be interpretation devices available in the courtroom and overflow room so you can follow in the language of your choice.
  • At the end, the judges may make an oral decision and give it immediately. Or (more usually) they will “reserve” their decision and give it in writing later.
  • Afterward, the hearing will adjourn. Everyone should stand again as the judges leave the courtroom.
  • Everyone must leave the courtroom once the hearing is over.

Official photography and video

  • An official photographer will take photos during the hearings. Please note that you may be photographed. Photos may be used on the Court’s social media (Twitter and Facebook) and in publications like the annual Year in Review. They may also be shared with media for publication.
  • The hearings will be filmed, webcast, and archived on the Supreme Court website.

Use of electronic devices and photography by members of the public

  • According to the Manitoba Law Courts’ Electronic Devices Policy, members of the public:
    • Are not allowed to take photos or videos anywhere in the court building without written permission.
    • Can have electronic devices (like cell phones, tablets, cameras, or computers) in the courtroom, but they must be turned off during the hearing.
  • The Chief Justice of Manitoba has given permission to take pictures inside the courtroom (and post them online) before and after the hearing. Absolutely no photos can be taken once the judges are in the room or during the hearing. Use the hashtag #SCCinWinnipeg so we can see your posts!