[JURIST] Bertha Wilson [official profile], the first woman appointed to the Supreme of Canada [official website], died [SCC press release] over the weekend of Alzheimer's disease, it was disclosed Monday. Wilson was 83. She was appointed to the Canadian high court by then-Prime Minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau in 1982 after having become the first woman appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 1975. Born in Scotland, she emigrated to Canada with her husband after World War II and graduated from Dalhousie Law School [academic website] in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1957. She was best known in Canadian jurisprudence for her progressive interpretation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text], which took effect the same year she was named to Supreme Court. In 1988 she authored the Supreme Court's decision in R. v. Morgantaler [text] that overturned Criminal Code of Canada restrictions on abortion, and in 1990 in R. v Lavallee [text] she accepted battered-wife syndrome as a legitimate defense to a murder charge.
There are now four female justices [court photo] on the Supreme Court of Canada, including Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin [official profile], who joined the court in 1989, just two years before Wilson's retirement in 1991. CanWest has more.