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Supreme alumnus

Justice Malcolm Rowe graduated with degrees in arts, science

Campus and Community

By Janet Harron

It’s not only the province of Newfoundland and Labrador that has its first Supreme Court justice.

Justice Malcolm Rowe has been named to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Justice Malcolm Rowe

Justice Malcolm Rowe, an alumnus of Memorial University, holds bachelor’s degrees in both arts (political science) and science.

As an undergraduate student, he was awarded the gold medal for political science and the Birks medal for leadership, both in 1975.

He attended Memorial from 1970-75 before heading to Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Ont., where he earned his LL.B. He was called to the bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1978 and became a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1986.

According to his official biography on the Prime Minister of Canada’s website:

Justice Rowe first worked as clerk assistant in the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, where he served as procedural advisor to the speaker. In 1980 he joined the Department of External Affairs as a foreign service officer.

In 1984 he joined the Ottawa office of Gowling and Henderson, first as an associate and then as a partner. While in private practice, he was part of the teams that handled disputes over the determination of Canada’s Atlantic maritime boundaries and overfishing on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador. He was also involved in the negotiation of a new United Nations convention on high seas fisheries, in initiatives of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization — as well as in negotiations with the European Union.

Justice Rowe was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1992. In 1996 he became clerk of the executive council and secretary to cabinet in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. He continued to advise Canada’s litigation team in regards to the fisheries case initiated by Spain before the International Court of Justice. He was also instrumental in securing a constitutional amendment to replace Newfoundland and Labrador’s denominational school system in favour of a secular one.

Justice Rowe was appointed to the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court, Trial Division, in 1999 and was elevated to the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001.

Justice Rowe was a lecturer in public and constitutional law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, for two years in the early 1990s and he has served as a member of the Council of the Canadian Superior Courts Judges’ Association since 2005. He was chair of the Advisory Committee on Federal Judicial Appointments for Newfoundland and Labrador from 2006-12.

He is the author of What Is the Constitution of a Province, a chapter in the book Provinces, edited by Prof. Christopher Dunn and published in 2015. From 2002-16, he was involved with Action Canada, a youth leadership development program, as an advisor, mentor and member of the national selection committee.


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