In the wake of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s announcement that she will be retiring from the Supreme Court of Canada in December, the legal profession is left to wonder who will take on the role.
Widely respected and well known for her outspokenness on issues such as access to justice, free speech, diversity and inclusive leadership, 73-year-old McLachlin will be stepping down after 28 years on the Supreme Court, with 17 of those as presiding judge. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will appoint a new chief justice and also choose another judge to replace McLachlin on the bench. Under the new appointments process, the prime minister will be provided a short list of names from an advisory committee and will likely make the selection from that list.
Emmett Macfarlane, assistant professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, says the replacement is very difficult to predict, and while there are no hard-and-fast rules there are a couple of what he calls “quasi-conventions” surrounding the elevation of someone to the role of chief justice.