The Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada, announced today that she will retire from the Supreme Court of Canada effective December 15, 2017.
The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, congratulated the Chief Justice on her coming retirement. “Chief Justice McLachlin’s judicial accomplishments are unparalleled in Canadian history. She has been a judicial leader and trailblazer for almost four decades. She is one of Canada’s very finest jurists. After 28 years at the Supreme Court of Canada, her contributions reach into every part of our law. Canadians owe her an immense debt. On behalf of all Canadians, I thank Chief Justice McLachlin for her long and dedicated service to Canada.”
For her part, Chief Justice McLachlin said, “It has been a great privilege to serve as a justice of the Court, and later its Chief Justice, for so many years. I have had the good fortune of working with several generations of Canada’s finest judges and best lawyers. I have enjoyed the work and the people I have worked with enormously.”
Chief Justice McLachlin’s judicial career began in April 1981 when she was appointed to the Vancouver County Court. In September 1981, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. In December 1985 she was elevated to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia where she served until her appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in September 1988. Seven months later, on April 17, 1989, she was sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.
On January 7, 2000, Justice McLachlin was appointed Chief Justice of Canada. She is the first woman to hold this position. She is also Canada’s longest-serving chief justice, having held the position for nearly 18 years.
McLachlin’s career was marked by a confrontation with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In 2014, Harper’s office suggested she acted inappropriately when she pointed out to potential issues with the appointment of Federal Court Judge Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court. Her concerns centred whether Nadon met the criteria for being from Quebec. It took a court challenge to decide that he did not. Justice Clement Gascon was chosen instead.
In addition to her judicial duties, the Chief Justice has served since 2000 as chair of the Canadian Judicial Council, chair of the National Judicial Institute and chair of the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada.