Beth Bilson Q.C. of Saskatoon wins CBA’s 2015 Louis St. Laurent Award

  • February 19, 2016

OTTAWA – Beth Bilson Q.C. of Saskatoon is the recipient of the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) 2015 Louis St. Laurent Award of Excellence that recognizes distinguished or exceptional service to the objectives and goals of the CBA.

“Beth Bilson’s dedication to the CBA, the academy and to the administration of justice in Canada, make her a clear choice as winner of this year’s Louis St. Laurent award,” says CBA President Janet Fuhrer. “During a career that has spanned more than 35 years, Beth has shown understated, resolute and unflagging service that is faithful to the goals of our Association.”

Beth Bilson served as Editor of the CBA’s legal journal, the Canadian Bar Review, for 10 years, before announcing her retirement last summer. During her tenure, the Review flourished as a leading journal in a climate that saw the proliferation of law school based legal periodicals.

As editor, she maintained and enhanced the quality of submissions, ensured a balance between the theoretical and practical, and, with the support of the associate French-language editor, produced a journal with an enviable linguistic balance.

Devoted to advancing the rights of women in the legal profession and in academic life, Beth Bilson was named the first female dean of law at the University of Saskatchewan in 1999. She is one of only two people to hold the position of dean on three separate occasions. She currently sits as acting dean.

The CBA has twice recognized her contributions. In 2010, she received the Cecilia Johnstone Award in recognition of her outstanding work for the advancement of women in the legal profession. In 2011, she received the Saskatchewan Distinguished Service Award for her exceptional contributions in her branch.

The first female chair of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board from 1992 to 1997, she also chaired the CBA’s Equality committee in both the Saskatchewan and nationally.

As an editor, scholar, trailblazer, adjudicator, and dean, she brings a thorough analysis, excellent judgment and collaborative decision-making to whatever she undertakes.

Friends and colleagues acknowledge her personal as well as the professional contributions. A mentor to many, she is described as bringing a calm rationality, strength and a sense of humour to those around her.  She builds bridges and finds points of common interest among stakeholders and works effortless and seamlessly on behalf of the CBA without calling attention to herself or her work.

Prof. Bilson joined the University of Saskatchewan faculty of law in 1979 and was named Queen’s Counsel in 2000. She holds three academic degrees from the University of Saskatchewan: a BA in history, an MA in history, and an LL.B.

She obtained her Ph.D. from the Faculty of Laws at the University of London in 1982. She has published articles in labour and administrative law, and is currently working on several projects in Saskatchewan legal history.

The award was named in memory of Louis St. Laurent, a former Prime Minister of Canada and President of the CBA. The award takes the form of a bronze medallion, inspired by the bronze statue of Mr. St. Laurent which sits in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa.

Prof. Bilson will receive the award on Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Fairmont Château Laurier, during the CBA Mid-Winter Meeting of Council.

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries in Quebec, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.