National Post

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Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Time magazine selects Supreme Court as nation's Newsmaker of the Year

Luiza Chwialkowska
National Post


Courtesy Time Magazine
Canada's Supreme Court, and its decisions, are featured as the top news story for 1999 in the latest edition of Time.

Their willingness to strike down laws has been criticized as an encroachment into the law-making territory of elected legislators. Now Canada's top judges have taken another step onto what has in the past been a largely political stage.

The Supreme Court of Canada has been named "Newsmaker of the Year" by the Canadian edition of Time magazine.

Last year, Bill Clinton, the U.S. president, and Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated his sexual relationships, shared the international honour of "Men of the Year." Lucien Bouchard, the Quebec Premier, earned an honourable mention as one of 1998's top newsmakers, along with, among others, General Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator.

This year, Canadian politicians of all stripes have been eclipsed in the editors' eyes by Canada's highest court.

"The historic impact and scope its decisions will have for Canadian society in the years to come," determined the selection, according to George Russell, editor of Time Canada.

"The national agenda was dominated by rulings that extended the definition of secondary picketing, restricted doctor-patient confidentiality, and expanded the right to be tried in either official language," the magazine said in a statement announcing the selection.

"The Court also delved into the most intimate aspects of citizens' lives with landmark decisions on divorce and gay rights, and sparked inter-racial violence with one of its most controversial rulings, on East Coast fishing rights."

Legal experts generally agree the Court has launched a new era of judicial activism, inspired by the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the statement notes.

"The influence of the court -- and the controversy surrounding it -- are certain to grow in the year ahead," states the Time cover story.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Internet retailer Amazon.com, was named person of the year in the magazine's U.S. edition.

Copyright Southam Inc.