New Brunswick Sen. Judith Keating, a leading legal and constitutional expert and the first woman to serve as the county’s Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Attorney, has died.
She was 64, her office confirmed Friday.
Keating was appointed to the Senate 18 months ago on January 31, 2020 and sat with the Independent Senate Group.
She also worked as a legal adviser to both progressive conservative and liberal premieres and chaired the province’s working group on reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
Keating was the founder and first president of New Brunswick’s Women in Law and editor-in-chief of the solicitor’s Journal of the Canadian Bar Association.
In a statement Friday, Senate President George Furey said he was deeply saddened by the news of Keats’ death.
Of her many contributions, Senator Keating will be remembered as a tireless advocate for equal status of the English and French languages in New Brunswick, equal and equitable treatment of women in the legal profession and the promotion of original issues in her role as Provincial Chair of the Working Group on Truth and reconciliation in New Brunswick, ”said Furey.
Tribute, condolences are pouring in
Tribute immediately poured in after the news on Friday, with political leaders and fellow senators expressing sympathy.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Keats’ death a “huge loss” and praised her “remarkable legacy.”
Senator Judith Keating spent decades serving New Brunswickers and Canadians – working to promote language equality, promote reconciliation, and empower women. She leaves a remarkable legacy and her passing is a huge loss. My thoughts are with her loved ones today.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Trudeau said Keating would be remembered for her many accomplishments and first time, calling her a prominent legal expert and a champion of female empowerment in the legal profession.
“Mrs. Keating was an active member of her local community and made many important contributions during her decades of public service in the government of New Brunswick,” Trudeau said.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I extend our sincere condolences to Mrs. Keating’s family, friends and colleagues.”
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs also offered condolences on behalf of all New Brunswickers in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
He and his wife Marcia were saddened to hear about the passing of Keating, who joined the provincial government in 1985 and retired in 2017, he said.
“Judith was passionate about the law and public order and devoted her life to both,” Higgs said.
“Over the course of her career, she has worked tirelessly to promote equal and equitable treatment of women in the legal profession.”
In 2015, she received the Muriel Corkery-Ryan QC Award from the Canadian Bar Association in New Brunswick, in recognition of her outstanding work in the field.
Senator Percy Mockler, who sponsored Keating when she entered the Senate, said in a Twitter post that he was saddened by the news.
“I will miss you, dear friend,” said Mockler.
Sad to hear about my colleague’s loss in the Senate and NB, Senator Judith Keating
I had the honor of being her sponsor when she entered the Senate in 2020. She was a great representative of our province. I will miss you dear friend! @SenateCA # nbpoli #cdnpoli < / a> pic.twitter.com/ls79vdiMqr
“I am struck by this news,” wrote Alberta Independent Senator Paula Simons.
“Judith was so smart, so funny, so insightful, so hardworking. Everything you could wish for in a senator, in a colleague, in a friend.”
Pioneer in the legal field
A pioneering woman in the legal field, Keating, was one of 36 senators, five of them from New Brunswick, to sign a letter in support of Clinic 554 in Fredericton in 2020.
Clinic 554, the only place in New Brunswick that offered out-of-hospital surgical abortions faced the threat of closure due to lack of government funding.
“While we appreciate that the provision of services in itself … is a provincial jurisdiction, the truth is that … the services offered by the clinic are different in nature because they are constitutionally prescribed by the Supreme Court, said Keating.
“So they are not at the same level as other services and the province’s obligation is therefore to ensure that proper access is provided.”
Instead, Keating said the province “has consistently restricted the right of access by introducing some regulatory controls.”
Keat’s office said Friday that there are no details yet regarding a funeral or memorial service.