Many moons ago (long before his judgeship days), His Lordship was my Civil Procedure Professor at Dalhousie Law School. He was a great prof (smart, funny and very down-to-earth and approachable) and from what I have seen and heard, an excellent judge as well.
Apparently, I'm not the only one to feel that way.
Lawyers and court watchers throughout Atlantic Canada like Justice Cromwell’s chances.Were he to receive the next appointment to Canada's highest court, if would be a very happy and a very sad day, indeed. He would be very valuable addition to the SCC, no doubt about it. But he would be sadly missed from our Court of Appeal.
He is "a very able-bodied person," said Lorne Clarke, a retired chief justice of Nova Scotia Supreme Court. "He’s got a great academic record."
"When he’s on the bench, he’s a mensch," said Joel Pink, a prominent Halifax defence lawyer. "Essentially, he’s a gentleman first class. When you look at Ottawa, that’s essentially what you have, those types of individuals."
Wayne MacKay, a professor at Dalhousie law school, also lauded Justice Cromwell.
"I just think Tom is a person with the qualities required to be a Supreme Court judge: compassionate, very polite, moderate and balanced in his approach to things, so to me, he’d be an excellent choice."
"Cromwell is the best," said one Newfoundland lawyer who spoke on condition that his name not be used. "If I had an opinion on it, he would be the guy. There’s nobody in Newfoundland."
Justice Cromwell is bilingual, which is desirable, especially given that he would replace Justice Bastarache, who is bilingual. And he has experience at the top court, having worked there as an executive legal officer in the 1990s.
Justice Cromwell’s record of decisions shows he is a moderate, court watchers say. Mr. Harper might like to appoint someone more conservative.
"I think they’ll be looking for someone who is seen to share that agenda, or at least not to be antagonistic to that agenda," said Philip Girard, a professor at Dalhousie law school. "That’s a bit of a hard person to find in Atlantic Canada."
As one of my various jobs, I digest decisions from our courts and I can honestly say that I truly appreciate those written by Mr. Justice Cromwell. They are always well-written and logical and show a solid grasp of both the law and common sense.
And as an advocate in the field of special needs, I can tell you that no matter the bench, be it our Court of Appeal or the SCC, I would be happy to see any of our cases argued before this man. It would receive a very fair hearing. And that's really all you can ask for.
So, all the best to Justice Cromwell. Here's hoping you get that new appointment. And here's equally hoping that you don't.