The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin

Cape Breton University is honoured to celebrate The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, her esteemed career, her contributions to the legal community and her role as a groundbreaker for the advancement of women.

Beverley McLachlin is a native of Pincher Creek, Alberta. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Master of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Alberta from 1965-1968. Chief Justice McLachlin was called to the Bar of Alberta in 1969 and the Bar of British Columbia in 1971. She practiced law in Edmonton, Fort St. John and Vancouver from 1969 to 1974 and taught at the Faculty of Law of the University of British Columbia from 1974 to 1981.

On January 7, 2000, Right Honourable McLachlin made Canadian history by being the first woman appointed as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. As Chief Justice of the highest court in the country she notes that, “The Supreme Court of Canada, plays an important role in sustaining democratic governance, respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law and accommodation of difference. Our commitment to these values must be renewed on every occasion.”

Before her appointment as the 17th Chief Justice of Canada, she was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1989. Prior to that, from 1988 to 1989, she was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, a judge of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia from 1985 to 1988, a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia from 1981 to 1985 and a judge at the County Court of Vancouver in 1981.

In addition to her court duties and responsibilities, Chief Justice McLachlin is chairperson of the Canadian Judicial Council, chairperson of the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada and chairperson of the Board of Governors of the National Judicial Institute. She is a Member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and a Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John.

Chief Justice McLachlin has authored many publications, is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and in 2007, was named to the Grade de commandeur dans l’ordre de la Legion d’Honneur, France (National Order of the Legion of Honour), which is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the First Republic, on May 19, 1802. The Order is the highest decoration in France.

Chief Justice McLachlin resides in Ottawa with her husband, Frank McArdle.

Cape Breton University conferred the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on a woman who holds the highest judicial position in the country and represents that office and the legal profession with dignity and esteem, The Right Honourable Beverley M. McLachlin.