It was a fête befitting the first female justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and the longest serving in the country’s history.
Nearly 900 well-wishers — including the prime minister of Canada, two former prime ministers and two former governor generals — came from across the country to pay tribute last night to retiring Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who officially retires today. The gala farewell dinner was held at the Shaw Centre in downtown Ottawa.
In giving the toast to the honoree, past governor general David Johnston described civilization as being like a garden close to a jungle. Two themes in her relationship to the court had been the entrenchment of human rights through the Constitution in 1982 and having “carved out a whole body of jurisprudence” in the area of indigenous law. Johnston called this last “the most distinctive area of jurisprudence we’ve seen in a long time, and Beverley McLachlin has been a leader in that.