At lunchtime each day, Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ian Binnie joins his eight colleagues in their private dining room. They joke, gripe and gossip about lawyers and other judges, covering every conceivable topic except the one foremost on their minds – the cases they must decide.
Lunching together and avoiding after-hours fraternizing are part of a concerted plan to eliminate the sort of fractious infighting that has been all too common on previous benches, Judge Binnie said in an exclusive interview to mark his retirement after serving 14 years as a backbone and intellectual leader of the court.
“The worst fix we could get into is to have little cabals discussing their perspective and voting in blocs,” the 72-year-old judge said. “We don’t want judges going from room to room, pigeonholing colleagues and then presenting other colleagues with: ‘Well, I’ve already got four judges to agree with me, and that’s the outcome of the case.’ ”