One of, if not the most influential Canadian justice in recent decades will be speaking in Sidney.
Beverly McLachlin, who holds the dual distinction of being the first female and longest-serving chief justice in the history of the Supreme Court of Canada, will be speaking at the Mary Winspear Centre Sept. 29, starting at 7 p.m.
First appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1989 after a career that included stops in academia and as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, McLachlin became Chief Justice on Jan. 7, 2000. She held that post until her retirement on Dec. 15, 2017 having reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.
During her 17 years tenure as chief justice, the Supreme Canada ruled on a long list of controversial cases, from the nature of political speech to same-sex marriage, from physician-assisted dying to the place of religion in universities, from the rights of Taliban fighter Omar Khadr to the rights of child pornographers and those accused of rape.
During her time on the court, McLachlin faced accusations of judicial activism from the right side of the political spectrum, but also criticism from progressive voices.
Judicial experts though consider her a consensus-builder, and McLachlin, who is currently pursuing a second career as a novelist, ranks among the most respected figures in the country.
Earlier this year, she investigated allegations of misconduct by two senior managers of the B.C. legislature. Her report led to the retirement of British Columbia’s top legislative official, House Clerk Craig James, and other changes designed to curb corruption.