The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C.
Former Chief Justice of Canada
The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin is an icon. Full stop. There’s no other way to describe the small-town girl from Alberta who grew up to become the first woman and longest serving Chief Justice of Canada. When you see her speak, you’ll hear a thoughtful reflection on her rich, wide-ranging career and her time as Chief Justice (which she calls the “centrepiece of her life”). You’ll marvel at her deep knowledge of so many hot-button issues—from mental health to diversity to politics to the justice system and beyond. You’ll love how bold she is; how unafraid to dig into the challenges Canadians are facing right now. And above all, you’ll walk away with that special buzzing feeling you only get when you know you just witnessed something very, very special.
The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin is the former Chief Justice of Canada. She is both the first woman in Canada to hold this position and the longest serving Chief Justice of Canada.
Her 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. She was elevated to the British Columbia Court of Appeal in December 1985 and was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in September 1988. Seven months later, in April 1989, she was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. On January 7, 2000, she was appointed Chief Justice of Canada. She retired on December 15, 2017.
In addition to her judicial duties at the Supreme Court, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin has chaired the Canadian Judicial Council, the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada, and the Board of Governors of the National Judicial Institute.
She is the author of numerous articles and publications. In May 2018, her first novel, crime thriller Full Disclosure, was published by Simon & Schuster. It has been widely praised, including this review from Maclean’s: “For page-turning legal thrillers, it’s hard to do better than this one, and not just because it’s by the ultimate insider: the recently retired chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.”
Later in May, she made history again when she was appointed to Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong’s highest appellate court, as one of its newest non-permanent judges.
In June, during the centennial year of the Canadian Armed Forces Legal Branch, she was appointed honorary captain (Navy) of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG), a military branch that oversees the administration of military justice. Also in June, Justice McLachlin was named a companion of the Order of Canada, the highest level of the Order of Canada, for her prodigious impact on our country’s legal landscape.
In July, Justice McLachlin joined Arbitration Place in Toronto as an arbitrator and mediator. Her colleagues have noted that this new appointment is a win for women in the field, citing much-needed gender diversity in the field of arbitration.
She is currently writing a book of memoirs, reflecting through a personal lens on some of the issues she worked on throughout her career, like Diversity, Indigenous rights, and the Charter.
She spent her formative years in Pincher Creek, Alberta, and was educated at the University of Alberta (B.A., M.A, LL.B.). Before becoming a judge, she practiced law and taught in Alberta and British Columbia.
As Canada’s longest-serving Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin can speak on a wide variety of topics including but certainly not limited to the judicial system, Canadian politics, culture and diversity, leadership, mental health, indigenous affairs, and our society at large. Known for her resolute, ethical approach to the issues she faced on the bench, McLachlin brings a cool head to the podium. Her expansive talks inspire audiences to challenge the status quo; to stand up for what’s right; to make a difference. “It’s very important that Canadians be able to see themselves reflected in the judges they see on the bench,” McLachlin has said. In this case, we’re just as lucky to see her up at the podium.