684 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2018
And he added: “You’d be surprised at how many they miss!” Bev missed
none. She is able to see just past the legal horizon to things others cannot
yet see: not only where the law now is, but where it should be going. This
glorious gift is given to only a precious few. The prodigious quantity of her
work, on almost 2,000 judgments, is matched by its exceptional quality.
Many have a favourite case or sentence from one of the Chief’s judgments.
Mine is three words, a sentence fragment only, from R. v. McIntosh. And
yet, in those three words, Bev captured the very essence of why, in a
democracy, we have laws. The three words: “Life is precious.”
I cannot possibly do justice to the Chief’s jurisprudential contribution. I
would, however, add this: the McLachlin court, led by our Chief, along with
the Lamer court, on which she was an intellectual leader, went through the
grand entrance hall to the Constitution and found hiding in plain sight the
very foundation of our democracy: the rule of law. That is reflected in judgments
constitutionalizing judicial review, judicial independence and the
Supreme Court itself. And tellingly, when called on to bring the law into
conformity with changes in social values, the Chief did not hesitate. A stalwart
defender of human rights and civil liberties, the Right Honourable Bev
McLachlin has assuredly been a judge for our times. Her influence has been
felt round the world. As the Right Honourable Sian Elias, Chief Justice of
New Zealand, put it: “Beverley McLachlin is unquestionably the judicial
leader best known in the Commonwealth.”
It is the insights found in her judgments that keep foreign courts returning
to the work of the Canadian Supreme Court for assistance and inspiration.
It is not just the Chief’s brilliant judgments that have made her
influence so pronounced; it is also her humanity and visionary leadership.
Having worked closely with the Chief on the Judicial Council, I can attest
to the fact that Beverley McLachlin has been a true judicial leader. Collegial
and courteous, she encouraged debate, listened and did everything possible
to find a consensus. The Chief would often say: “As chair, it is not for me to
decide what to do. But perhaps we might consider this.” And before we
knew it, problem solved. A strong advocate for judicial education, she cares
passionately about improving the delivery of justice and what we might all
do to move the wheel of justice forward.
It is Bev’s humanity that defines her best—her warmth, compassion and
inclusiveness. Bev took the role of Chief Justice seriously. But not herself.
She never used her title to seek a benefit. Except once. When hosting an
international group of judges in Vancouver. They wanted to have dinner at
a hot, new restaurant. But no luck getting a reservation. Bev said she would
try. She phoned, explained who she was and that she would be grateful if