Richard Wagner (judge)

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Richard Wagner

The Right Honourable Richard Wagner
Wagner in 2012
Administrator of the Government of Canada
Assumed office
January 23, 2021
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byJulie Payette
as Governor General
18th Chief Justice of Canada
Assumed office
December 18, 2017
Nominated byJustin Trudeau
Appointed byJulie Payette
Preceded byBeverley McLachlin
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
In office
October 5, 2012 – December 18, 2017
Nominated byStephen Harper
Appointed byDavid Johnston
Preceded byMarie Deschamps
Succeeded bySheilah Martin
Puisne Justice of the Quebec Court of Appeal
In office
February 3, 2011 – October 5, 2012
Nominated byStephen Harper
Appointed byDavid Johnston
Preceded byLise Côté
Succeeded byDominique Bélanger
Personal details
Born (1957-04-02) April 2, 1957 (age 63)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Spouse(s)Catherine Mandeville
FatherClaude Wagner
Alma materUniversity of Ottawa (BSocSc, LLL)

Richard Wagner PC (French pronunciation: ​[vɑɡnɛːʁ] vahg-NAIR;[2] born April 2, 1957) is a Canadian jurist who serves as the 18th and current chief justice of Canada. He was sworn in as chief justice on December 18, 2017, having previously served as a puisne justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On January 23, 2021, Wagner assumed the role of administrator of the Government of Canada, following a workplace review of Rideau Hall and the resignation of Julie Payette as governor general of Canada. He will serve as administrator until the appointment of a new governor general.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Wagner was born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Gisèle (née Normandeau) and Claude Wagner, a former member of Parliament and senator.[5] He studied at the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal before receiving his bachelor of social science in political science from the University of Ottawa in 1978. He received his LL.L. from the same institution in 1979.[5]


In 1980, Wagner was called to the Quebec Bar, and began practice at the Montreal law firm Lavery, de Billy (formerly Lavery, O'Brien and Lavery, Johnston, Clark, Carrière, Mason & Associés). His practice centred on real estate, commercial litigation and professional liability insurance.[5]

He was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court for the district of Montreal on September 24, 2004. On February 3, 2011, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal of Quebec.

On October 2, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper nominated him to the Supreme Court of Canada to replace retiring Justice Marie Deschamps.[6] His appointment was confirmed on October 5, 2012.[7]

On December 3, 2012, a ceremony was held for Wagner's appointment in the Supreme Court of Canada courtroom. The event was attended by outgoing chief justice Beverley McLachlin, the federal minister of justice and attorney general, Rob Nicholson and the Quebec deputy minister of justice, Nathalie G. Drouin.[8]

On December 12, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nominated Wagner as Beverly McLachlin's successor as chief justice of Canada.[9][10]

On January 23, 2021, Wagner became Administrator of the Government of Canada following the resignation of Governor General Julie Payette in response to a workplace harassment investigation. The chief justice of Canada is the deputy governor general, and can act as governor general when the office is vacant.[11][4]

Personal life[edit]

Wagner is a Roman Catholic.[12] Wagner's father Claude was also a jurist. His grandfather was a German Jewish immigrant originally from Bavaria. Wagner has two children who are also lawyers.[1]


Commonwealth honours[edit]

Country Date Appointment Post-nominal letters
 Canada December 18, 2017 – present Member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada PC


Honorary degrees
Location Date School Degree Gave Commencement Address
 Ontario June 19, 2019 University of Ottawa Doctorate Yes [13]

Memberships and fellowships[edit]

Country Date Organization Position
 United States of America American College of Trial Lawyers Honorary Fellow [14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b MacCharles, Tonda (December 12, 2017). "Justin Trudeau names Richard Wagner new Chief Justice of Canada". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on December 12, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  2. ^ "Richard Wagner sworn in as Supreme Court chief justice - YouTube". Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  3. ^ Graham Slaughter (January 21, 2021). "Canada's top judge is now Governor General, but expert urges speedy replacement". CTVNEWS.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b c Quebec Court of Appeal. The Honourable Richard Wagner. Retrieved October 2, 2012. Archived May 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ CBC News (October 2, 2012). "Quebec judge Richard Wagner nominated to Supreme Court" Archived October 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  7. ^ The Canadian Press. "CBC News - MP questions 'introduce' Supreme Court nominee Wagner Montreal judge is Conservative government's 5th appointment". CBC News. CBC News. Archived from the original on December 11, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  8. ^ "Supreme Court welcomes Justice Wagner to bench". December 3, 2012. Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  9. ^ "Prime Minister names the Honourable Richard Wagner as new Chief Justice of Canada". (Press release). PMO. December 12, 2017. Archived from the original on July 23, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  10. ^ "News Releases - SCC Cases (Lexum)". (Press release). December 12, 2017. Archived from the original on December 12, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  11. ^ Burke, Ashley (January 21, 2021). "Payette stepping down as governor general after blistering report on Rideau Hall work environment". CBC News. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  12. ^ "Richard Wagner". Canadian Who's Who 2014-2015. Toronto: Third Sector Publishing, 2015.
  13. ^ "WAGNER, Richard". Office of the President. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  14. ^ "Honorary Fellows". Retrieved January 25, 2021.
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Justin Trudeau
as Prime Minister
Order of Precedence of Canada
as Chief Justice
Succeeded by
Edward Schreyer
as Former Governor General