Canadians in the Dark over Brief Disappearance of Supreme Court Justice

A Canadian flag flies in front of the peace tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada on December 4, 2015, as part of the ceremonies to the start Canada's 42nd parliament . AFP PHOTO/GEOFF ROBINS / AFP / GEOFF ROBINS (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty

Fifty-nine-year-old Canadian Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon mysteriously disappeared on Wednesday evening, prompting Ottawa police to ask for public assistance in locating him. On Thursday, the police announced Gascon “has been located safe and sound.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Gascon to the Canadian Supreme Court in 2014. He announced last month that he planned to retire in September after a 17-year career in the judiciary, citing “personal and family reasons.” The court indicated he would be allowed to participate in decisions on cases he previously heard for six months after his retirement goes into effect.

Gascon is well-regarded by colleagues and politicians from Canada’s major parties, although the opposition took the opportunity of his retirement announcement to criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for failing to thoroughly investigate leaks of information coming from within the court system. Trudeau announced in April that an advisory board would be convened to nominate Gascon’s replacement before elections are held in the fall.

The authorities have released few details about Gascon’s disappearance or explained why they treated him as a missing person so quickly. His family said he was last seen walking away from the Supreme Court building in Ottawa at roughly 1:20 in the afternoon. The Ottawa police issued a news release saying the family was concerned for his well-being and asking for help in locating him at 7:37 pm. He was located about 90 minutes later.

“The short-lived missing person report sparked widespread attention, making the national television news and drawing the attention of the RCMP,” the National Post reported, referring to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

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