Canada’s First Woman Supreme Court Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, Celebrates Her Tenth Year as Top Judge

"I have always wanted to be known as a good jurist, as a serious jurist," said Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in a recent interview with the Globe and Mail, marking her tenth year as top judge.  It appears that she has, without a doubt, succeeded. 

McLachlin has presided over thousands of cases in a 29-year career on the bench.  Lately, the Court has tackled difficult press freedom and free expression issues.  And McLachlin still feels the pressue of making difficult decisions.  "They are all really, really important issues at this level," she said.  "One does ponder them, and go back and forth agonizing about them.  I must say, it is a preoccupying thing."

Equally noteworthy is the fact that McLachlin presides over a Court where four of the nine seats are occupied by women.  "I think that's a wonderful situation for the court to be in," she said.  "It gives encouragement to people who might otherwise feel they ought not to try for whatever it is they want to try for."  As the Globe and Mail reported: "In her early years, Chief Justice McLachlin often found herself wondering whether colleagues were parsing her statements with the subconscious thought, 'Is that her hormones - or her women-ness - talking.'  That is no longer the case, she said.  'We just don't think in terms of gender on this court.  I don't think it is for the men on the court, either.'"

Rather, the challenge has become leading nine independent, brilliant minds in pursuit of making the best legal decisions possible.  As she tackles this challenge, McLauchlin moves closer to becoming the longest-serving chief justice in the 135-year history of the Court (she is three years away).  Yet, through it all, she continues to conduct herself with poise and intelligence, while maintaining perspective: "Whatever happens, happens.  It has been a great privilege, one I could never have imagined in my wildest imaginings when I started out in law."

To read the full Globe and Mail article click here.

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