New Brunswick Senator Judith Keating, a leading legal and constitutional expert and the first woman to serve as the province’s deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general, has died at age 64.
Keating was appointed to the Senate 18 months ago, on Jan. 31, 2020, and sat with the Independent Senators Group.
She also worked as a chief legal adviser to both Progressive Conservative and Liberal premiers, 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 on Friday, Senator George Furey, Speaker of the Senate, said he was deeply saddened by the news of Keating’s death.
“Of her many contributions, Senator Keating will be remembered as a tireless advocate for the equal status of the English and French languages in New Brunswick, the equal and just treatment of women in the legal profession, and the promotion of Indigenous issues in her role as provincial chair of the Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation in New Brunswick,” Furey said.
Sad to hear of the passing of my colleague in the Senate and NB, Senator Judith Keating<br>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!<a href=”https://twitter.com/SenateCA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@SenateCA</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/nbpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#nbpoli</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cdnpoli</a> <a href=”https://t.co/ls79vdiMqr”>pic.twitter.com/ls79vdiMqr</a>
New Brunswick Senator Percy Mockler, who sponsored Keating when she entered the Senate, also expressed his condolences on Friday in a post on social media.
“I will miss you, dear friend,” Mockler said.
Pioneer in 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 location in New Brunswick that offers surgical abortions outside of hospitals, was at that time facing the threat of closure due to a lack of government funding.
“While we appreciate that the provision of services per se … is a provincial jurisdiction, the truth is that … the services offered by the clinic are different in nature because they have been prescribed constitutionally by the Supreme Court,” Keating said.
“So they’re not on the same level as other services, and so the obligation of the province is to ensure that proper access is provided.”
Instead, Keating said, the province has “consistently restricted the right to access by imposing some regulatory controls.”
Keating’s office said Friday that there are no details yet regarding a funeral or memorial service.