OTTAWA — Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon received a standing ovation Thursday after hearing his final case on the high court.
Gascon graciously thanked his family and colleagues, saying it is an immense privilege to be a judge.
Last month, Gascon, 58, announced plans to retire for unspecified personal and family reasons.
He said this week he has long struggled with anxiety and depression, and while he has generally been able to manage the illness, it recently led to a difficult episode.
Gascon said he suffered a panic attack before he briefly went missing May 8. He profusely apologized for the uncharacteristic absence, citing the effects of his difficult career decision and a change in medication.
In the crowded courtroom Thursday, Chief Justice Richard Wagner praised Gascon as an exceptional person.
"Our esteemed colleague has served Canadians with dignity and wisdom," Wagner said. "His commitment and friendship will be missed."
Justice Sheilah Martin shed tears.
Gascon officially steps down Sept. 15 but will continue to have input into judgments flowing from cases he has heard, as long as they are released within six months of his retirement date.
Judgments released after mid-March will note that Gascon had no input into the decision.
"My work as a judge is far from complete," he said. "I can assure you that I will continue."