Former Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin has been appointed to the Order of Canada as a recipient of its highest accolade, Companion of the Order of Canada.
McLachlin, Canada’s longest-serving chief justice and first woman in the role, received the honour for her work and “prodigious” influence on the nation’s legal landscape. The announcement was made June 29 by Governor General of Canada Julie Payette.
She also served as a deputy of the governor general concurrent to her chief justice role. McLachlin retired from the bench Dec. 15, 2017 and, as of March 2018, was nominated to sit on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.
In-house counsel were also represented in Friday’s announcement. Agnes Di Leonardi, general counsel, corporate secretary and director of Mazda Canada Inc., has been named a Member of the Order of Canada. She was appointed to the order for her outstanding work mentoring and women through the International Women’s Forum of Canada and for her leadership in the automotive industry.
Di Leonardi has previous experience working in-house at other automotive companies such as Ford Motor Company Canada, Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover Canada and Volvo Cars of Canada.
One of the 20 recipients of the second-highest Order, Officer of the Order of Canada, also has a legal background — Cindy Blackstock is a recipient because of her contributions to the building of a culture of Indigenous reconciliation and for her work as a spokeswoman for Indigenous youth rights.
Other new Members of the Order of Canada with legal backgrounds include Thomas d’Aquino, Ronald “Ron” D. Ghitter, Beverley K. Jacobs, Morton Minc, Calin Rovinescu and Sharon Sholzberg-Gray.
D'Aquino was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for his philanthropic spirit, leadership in the cultural sector (he’s currently chairman of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation in Ottawa and is part of the board of directors of the National Music Centre in Calgary) and his “influential” work on public policy. D’Aquino is the chairman of Thomas d’Aquino Capital and chairman/chief executive of Intercounsel Inc.
Ghitter, a former Alberta senator and lawyer, received the accolade for his demonstrated commitment to furthering and improving human rights and social justice, as well as his years of “exemplary service” being a politician. He was the recipient of the Alberta Human Rights Award in 1990.
Jacobs was named a Member of the Order of Canada for her efforts in advancing the rights of Indigenous women, serving as the lead researcher of the "Stolen Sisters" report of 2004 for Amnesty International. This report was major as it revealed facts about the racialized and sexualized violence Indigenous women face.
She has also worked with the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia.
Minc, a judge and justice system innovator, earned his Member of the Order of Canada accolade for his “commitment to justice based on social rehabilitation,” creating access to justice programming at the Municipal Court of Montreal. Minc is also the first jurist-in-residence at Concordia University in Montreal.
Rovinescu, president and CEO of Air Canada, achieved appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada for his charitable and human rights works. Through his organization, Rovinescu advocated charitable causes and was the driving force of humanitarian relief during various natural disasters.
Previous to his time at Air Canada, Rovinescu was a managing partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Montreal.
Sholzberg-Gray, alawyer and health policy advocate, was named a Member of the Order of Canada for her health-care leadership. She advocates for accessibility in health care and publicly funded services for all Canadians.
For about 25 years, Sholzberg-Gray has been involved with a variety of non-profit associations within the health and social policy sectors, serving for a decade as CEO of the Canadian Healthcare Association until 2008.
The June 29 announcement brought with it a total of 105 appointments. Since its establishment in 1967, more than 6,000 people have been honoured.
The Order of Canada is the country’s second highest acclamation after the Order of Merit, recognizing the excellence of those who make lifelong contributions to the nation in all sectors. A full list of recipients could be found here.