Former Chief Justice McLachlin is this year’s President’s Award honoree

  • February 12, 2019

A host of awards were handed out to deserving recipients this year at the President’s Dinner that followed the CBA AGM and Board meeting in February, but by far the star of the show was former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

McLachlin, who stepped down from her Supreme Court role in late 2017, was this year’s recipient of President’s Award in honour of her significant contribution to the legal profession.

“A fearless trailblazer, Beverley McLachlin has ruled on some of the most important legal issues facing this country,” says CBA President Ray Adlington. “She has written precedent setting rulings from assisted dying to indigenous peoples as victims of cultural genocide. As Chief Justice, she shone the spotlight on the importance of access to justice and continues to be an outspoken advocate for making the courts more accessible to all Canadians.”

McLachlin has she set aside her dream of becoming a novelist when she became a judge, but since her retirement she’s taken it up again, publishing her first novel, Full Disclosure last year. The bench is still in her blood, however - later this year she will begin serving as a non-permanent judge on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, which can have a rotating roster of up to 30 non-permanent judges.

The winners of other awards presented at the dinner were all rightly honoured for their outstanding contributions to the CBA and to the legal profession in general, to human rights and to the rule of law. Other honorees were:

The Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Law recognizes outstanding contributions to the law or legal scholarship in Canada. This year’s recipient, William Thomas Molloy, has been called a “modern father of Confederation” and over the past four decades has pioneered the conversion of Canada’s obligations to Indigenous Peoples into rights with legal force and consequences. Now serving as the Lt-Gov. of Saskatchewan, Molloy was Canada’s chief negotiator for the historic Nisga’a treaty negotiations and final agreement in British and also Canada’s chief negotiator with the Inuit of Nunavut in the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement which led to the creation of the Territory of Nunavut in 1999.

Touchstone Award –The Hon. Douglas R. Campbell is the recipient of this year’s Touchstone award, which recognizes the promotion of equality in the legal profession, the judiciary or the legal community in Canada. Campbell, supernumerary Judge of the Federal Court since 2011, is being recognized for his lifetime contribution to the promotion of equality within the judiciary and the legal community, and his  groundbreaking initiatives and leadership in judicial social context education and decision-making.

SOGIC Ally Award – Justice Harry LaForme is the recipient of this year’s SOGIC Ally Award, which recognizes lawyers, professors, law students or retired judges who support the LGBTT communities. LaForme wrote the 2002 majority Ontario Superior Court decision in Halpern v Canada, which found that the common law rule defining marriage as being between one man and one woman violated the equality guarantees in the Charter. “Justice LaForme has fought against marginalization at every stage of his career,” says the letter nominating LaForme for the award. “His victories have furthered the rights of all Canadians who share experiences of oppression.”

SOGIC Hero Award – Florence Ashley is the recipient of this year’s SOGIC Hero Award, which recognizes lawyers, professors, law students or judges who are members of the LGBTT communities. A widely published academic who often appears in mainstream media speaking on trans issues, Ashley is being recognized for three important contributions they make to the cause of LGBTT people: legal scholarship, serving as a role model, and engagement with and education of the general public on trans issues. In 2019-2020, Ashley will serve as the first known openly trans clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada, working in the chambers of the Hon. Sheilah Martin.

The Douglas Miller Award, which recognizes a Canadian Bar Association member who demonstrates outstanding dedication and team spirit in his or her ongoing involvement with the CBA, was awarded this year to Michèle Moreau, the Director of Protection and Defense of Rights and Interim Deputy Director for Investigations with the Quebec Human Rights Commission. An enthusiastic Quebecer who has held more than 13 official roles in the CBA, including national second-Vice-President (she stepped off the presidential ladder to sit on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls), Moreau is currently a member of the Finance Committee.

Jack Innes Award – Tamra Thomson, the Executive Director of Advocacy, is this year’s recipient of the Jack Innes Award, which recognizes outstanding contribution to the Canadian Bar Association by a current staff member who has shown creativity, innovation, leadership and commitment. Thomson came to the CBA in 1994 after honing her advocacy and policy development skills with the federal government and non-governmental legal organizations, where among other things she contributed to the equality guarantees in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Known to many as the CBA’s “Resolution Queen” and to others as the “Queen of the By-Laws,” she has been instrumental in the Association’s transition to CBA 2.0 and has been an invaluable resource during the transition period.