The Honourable Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella wanted to be a lawyer since the age of 4. She didn’t necessarily know what a lawyer was except that she wanted to be one. At the time her family had arrived in Canada after having spent the better part of the post-war years in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany. Both of her parents somehow managed to survive the Holocaust, although their two year-old son perished. Rosalie Abella became even more convinced that she wanted to be a lawyer after she read Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables as a young teenager. Her father, a lawyer by training who wasn’t allowed to practice in Canada because he wasn’t a citizen, helped instil in his daughter a passion for the law and the administration of justice that continues to burn to this day. Abella graduated from law school in 1970 and at the age of 29 was appointed to the Ontario Family Court, becoming this country’s first Jewish woman judge and the first pregnant woman to be appointed. In 1992 she was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal by Kim Campbell and in 2004 Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed Rosalie Abella to the Supreme Court. Catherine Clark spoke to Rosalie Abella about her life on Canada’s top court.
Born into political life in Ottawa, Catherine Clark is no stranger to being in the public eye. As founding host of CPAC’s popular weekly television show Beyond Politics, Catherine interviews Members of Parliament, Premiers and people of influence to reveal the personal, human side of public life. Catherine is also a sought-after public speaker and emcee, and writes the “Giving Back” column for Ottawa at Home Magazine, profiling people who are improving the lives of their fellow citizens.