OTTAWA, Dec 23 ( – Prime Minister Jean Chretien yesterday announced the surprise appointment to the Supreme Court of Justice Louis LeBel of the Quebec court of appeal. The judge, labeled an “abortion foe” by the Toronto Star, issued a temporary injunction in the 1989 Chantale Daigle case preventing a woman from aborting the child in her womb while her husband sought a court order to protect the child’s life. He is to take his seat at the court on Jan. 7. 

Today’s Toronto Star quotes Henri Grondin, LeBel’s former law partner of 20 years as saying of LeBel, “He’s a very religious judge, and as a result, fairly strict on certain things, on religious principles. He was against the abortion because, he told me, ‘I cannot, as a Christian, support that. It is against my conscience.’” LeBel would not comment on his personal view on abortion when interviewed by the Star, but did say that he believes the question has been decided by the Supreme Court “and I am bound by that and I will apply the law.” 

Other commentators familiar with LeBel note he is a conservative jurist not prone to the rampant judicial activism so prevalent in Canada’s court system today. 

In the Daigle decision LeBel wrote: “In the concrete circumstances of this case, there is the problem of the legal status of a fetus at about 20 weeks. At this age, its arms and legs,  organs and nervous system are formed, it has taken human form and is on the eve of crossing the threshold of viability outside the mother’s body.”