For more than a decade and a half, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, first as a judge and then as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (2000-2017), led with measured, collegial force a series of landmark decisions that helped shape and elevate the recognition and respect of essential human rights in Canada. She was instrumental in defining and expanding the fundamental rights of Canadians in key areas such as the legalization of assisted dying, the expansion of Aboriginal rights, and the rights of the accused before the courts and law enforcement agencies. She has also succeeded in securing a significant number of full Court consensus decisions, giving greater force to the Court's rulings on key questions of law.
Ms. McLachlin earned the respect of all Canadians for her humane judgments that sought to protect the most vulnerable. As one of her nominators noted, "she used her intelligence, compassion and legal acumen to build a foundation of rights that will serve Canadians for generations to come.
On her retirement, Chief Justice McLachlin was invited to sit as an external judge on the highest courts of Singapore and Hong Kong. This is significant global recognition from jurisdictions that practice many different legal traditions, and acknowledges the trust and esteem in which she is held for a remarkable body of work.