|The Honourable Mr. Justice
Wishart Flett Spence
|Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada|
May 30, 1963–December 29, 1978
|Nominated by||Lester B. Pearson|
|Preceded by||Robert Taschereau|
|Succeeded by||William McIntyre|
|Born||March 9, 1904
|Died||April 16, 1998(aged 94)|
Born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of James Houston Spence and Margaret Hackland, Spence received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Toronto in 1925. He studied law at Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1928. In 1929, Spence received his Masters of Law from Harvard Law School. Spence practised law in Toronto and was a part-time lecturer at Osgoode Hall. In 1950, he was appointed to the High Court of Justice of Ontario.
On May 30, 1963, Spence was appointed to the Supreme Court. In 1966, he chaired the royal commission investigating the Munsinger Affair, which involved allegations that an East German spy had been sleeping with Canadian Cabinet ministers. Spence criticised the way the Diefenbaker government had handled the matter, but found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or security breaches. In the 1970s, Spence frequently joined with Chief Justice Bora Laskin and Justice Brian Dickson on cases involving civil liberties, often in dissent. The grouping was colloquially referred to as the "LSD connection."
Spence retired from the Court on December 29, 1978. In 1979, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Spence died on April 16, 1998, at the age of 94.
- Canada. Commission of Inquiry into Matters Relating to One Gerda Munsinger. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1966.
- Ian Binnie, "Tribute to Bora Laskin.