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Chief Justice of Canada

Chief Justice of Canada

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The Chief Justice of Canada, like the eight puisne Justice
Puisne Justice
A Puisne Justice or Puisne Judge is the title for a regular member of a Court. This is distinguished from the head of the Court who is known as the Chief Justice or Chief Judge. The term is used almost exclusively in common law jurisdictions such as England, Australia, Kenya, Canada, Sri Lanka,...

s of the Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

, is appointed by the Governor-in-Council
Queen-in-Council
The Queen-in-Council is, in each of the Commonwealth realms, the technical term of constitutional law that refers to the exercise of executive authority, denoting the monarch acting by and with the advice and consent of his or her privy council or executive council The Queen-in-Council (during...

 (Governor General of Canada
Governor General of Canada
The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II...

 on the advice of the Cabinet
Cabinet of Canada
The Cabinet of Canada is a body of ministers of the Crown that, along with the Canadian monarch, and within the tenets of the Westminster system, forms the government of Canada...

). All nine are chosen from either sitting judges or barristers who have at least ten years' standing at the bar of a province or territory. The Chief Justice is sworn as a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
Queen's Privy Council for Canada
The Queen's Privy Council for Canada ), sometimes called Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada or simply the Privy Council, is the full group of personal consultants to the monarch of Canada on state and constitutional affairs, though responsible government requires the sovereign or her viceroy,...

 prior to taking the oath of office as Chief Justice.

Judicial Council


The Chief Justice chairs the Canadian Judicial Council
Canadian Judicial Council
The Canadian Judicial Council is a federal body created under the Judges Act , with the mandate to "promote efficiency, uniformity, and accountability, and to improve quality of judicial service in the superior courts of Canada". The Council is also mandated to review "any complaint or allegation"...

, which is composed of all chief justices and associate chief justices of superior courts in Canada. This body, established by the Judges Act, organizes seminars for federally appointed judges, coordinates the discussion of issues of concern to the judiciary, and conducts inquiries, either on public complaint or at the request of the federal Minister of Justice or a provincial attorney general, into the conduct of any federally appointed judge.

Assistant viceroy


The Letters Patent of 1947 respecting the Office of Governor General
Governor General of Canada
The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II...

 provide that, should the Governor General die, become incapacitated, or be absent from the country for a period of more than one month, the Chief Justice or, if that office is vacant, the Senior Puisne Justice, of the Supreme Court would become the Administrator of Canada
Administrator of the Government
An Administrator in the constitutional practice of some countries in the Commonwealth is a person who fulfils a role similar to that of a Governor or a Governor-General...

 and exercise all the powers and duties of the Governor General. This has happened twice in the past, with Chief Justices Robert Taschereau
Robert Taschereau
Robert Taschereau, CC, PC was a lawyer who became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and who briefly served as acting Governor General of Canada following the death of Georges Vanier in 1967.-Biography:...

 and Sir Lyman Poore Duff
Lyman Poore Duff
Sir Lyman Poore Duff, GCMG, PC, QC was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and briefly served as Acting Governor General of Canada in 1931 and 1940....

 acting as Governor General for brief periods following the death of a sitting Governor General. In 2005, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin
Beverley McLachlin
Beverley McLachlin, PC is the Chief Justice of Canada, the first woman to hold this position. She also serves as a Deputy of the Governor General of Canada.-Early life:...

 was Administrator of Canada when then-Governor General
Governor General of Canada
The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II...

, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson
Adrienne Clarkson
Adrienne Louise Clarkson is a Canadian journalist and stateswoman who served as Governor General of Canada, the 26th since Canadian Confederation....

, was hospitalized when she had a pacemaker
Artificial pacemaker
A pacemaker is a medical device that uses electrical impulses, delivered by electrodes contacting the heart muscles, to regulate the beating of the heart...

 installed.

The Chief Justice and the other Justices of the Court serve as deputies of the Governor General for the purpose of giving Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

 to bills passed by parliament
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

, signing official documents or receiving credentials of newly appointed high commissioner
High Commissioner
High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

s and ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

s.

Other duties


The Chief Justice also sits on the advisory council of Canada's highest civilian order, the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

. In practice however, the Chief Justice abstains from voting on a candidate's removal from the order
Removal from the Order of Canada
Recipients of the Order of Canada can have their honour revoked if the Order's Advisory Council feels that a recipient's actions have brought dishonour to the Order. As of 2010, only four people have been removed from the Order of Canada: Alan Eagleson, David Ahenakew, T. Sher Singh, and Steve Fonyo...

, presumably because this process has so far only applied to individuals convicted in a lower court of a criminal offence, and could create a conflict of interest for the Chief Justice if that individual appealed their conviction to the Supreme Court.

Under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, each province has a three-person commission responsible for modifying that province's federal ridings
Electoral district (Canada)
An electoral district in Canada, also known as a constituency or a riding, is a geographical constituency upon which Canada's representative democracy is based...

. The chair of each such commission is appointed by the chief justice of that province; if no appointment is made by the provincial chief justice, the responsibility falls to the Chief Justice of Canada.

Current Chief Justice


The current Chief Justice is The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin
Beverley McLachlin
Beverley McLachlin, PC is the Chief Justice of Canada, the first woman to hold this position. She also serves as a Deputy of the Governor General of Canada.-Early life:...

, PC
Queen's Privy Council for Canada
The Queen's Privy Council for Canada ), sometimes called Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada or simply the Privy Council, is the full group of personal consultants to the monarch of Canada on state and constitutional affairs, though responsible government requires the sovereign or her viceroy,...

, the first woman to hold this position. She was appointed in 2000 and was previously a puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, and a Justice on the British Columbia Court of Appeal. A graduate of the University of Alberta
University of Alberta
The University of Alberta is a public research university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Founded in 1908 by Alexander Cameron Rutherford, the first premier of Alberta and Henry Marshall Tory, its first president, it is widely recognized as one of the best universities in Canada...

 Faculty of Law, she has also practised law with various firms and taught law at the University of British Columbia
University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia is a public research university. UBC’s two main campuses are situated in Vancouver and in Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley...

. She was born in Pincher Creek, Alberta
Pincher Creek, Alberta
Pincher Creek is a town in the southwest of Alberta, Canada. It is located immediately east of the Canadian Rockies in the centre of ranching country, north of Waterton Lakes National Park.The town's mayor is Ernie Olsen.- History :...

, in 1943.

List of Chief Justices

Name Province Term Elevated by
1 The Right Honourable Sir William Buell Richards
William Buell Richards
Sir William Buell Richards, PC, Kt was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.Richards was born in Brockville, Upper Canada to Stephen Richards and Phoebe Buell. He earned law degree at the St. Lawrence Academy in Potsdam, New York and then articled with his uncle Andrew Norton...

Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

September 30, 1875 – January 10, 1879 N/A
2 The Right Honourable Sir William Johnstone Ritchie
William Johnstone Ritchie
Sir William Johnstone Ritchie was one of the first judges appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada and became the second Chief Justice of the court....

New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

January 11, 1879 – September 25, 1892 Macdonald
3 The Right Honourable Sir Samuel Henry Strong
Samuel Henry Strong
Sir Samuel Henry Strong, PC, QC was a jurist and Chief Justice of Canada.Strong was born in Poole, England to Samuel Spratt Strong and Jane Elizabeth Goose. He emigrated to Upper Canada with his family in 1836 settling in Bytown . He studied law in the office of local Ottawa lawyer Augustus Keefer...

Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

December 13, 1892 – November 18, 1902 Thompson
4 The Right Honourable Sir Henri Elzéar Taschereau
Henri Elzéar Taschereau
Sir Henri-Elzéar Taschereau, PC was a Canadian jurist and Chief Justice of Canada.He was born in his family's seigneurial manor house at Sainte-Marie-de-la-Beauce, Lower Canada to Pierre-Elzéar Taschereau and Catherine Hénédine Dionne. Tashereau attended the Université Laval and was called to the...

Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

November 21, 1902 – May 2, 1906 Laurier
Wilfrid Laurier
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, GCMG, PC, KC, baptized Henri-Charles-Wilfrid Laurier was the seventh Prime Minister of Canada from 11 July 1896 to 6 October 1911....

5 The Right Honourable Sir Charles Fitzpatrick
Charles Fitzpatrick
Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, PC, GCMG was a Canadian lawyer and politician. He was born in Quebec City, Canada East, to John Fitzpatrick and Mary Connolly....

Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

June 4, 1906 – October 21, 1918 Laurier
Wilfrid Laurier
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, GCMG, PC, KC, baptized Henri-Charles-Wilfrid Laurier was the seventh Prime Minister of Canada from 11 July 1896 to 6 October 1911....

6 The Right Honourable Sir Louis Henry Davies
Louis Henry Davies
Sir Louis Henry Davies, was a Prince Edward Island lawyer, businessman and politician, the third Premier...

Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...

October 23, 1918 – May 1, 1924 Borden
7 The Right Honourable Francis Alexander Anglin
Francis Alexander Anglin
Francis Alexander Anglin PC was Chief Justice of Canada from 1924 until 1933.Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, one of 9 children of Parliamentarian Timothy Anglin, and elder brother to the renowned stage actress, Margaret Anglin, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of...

Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

September 16, 1924 – February 28, 1933 King
William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King, PC, OM, CMG was the dominant Canadian political leader from the 1920s through the 1940s. He served as the tenth Prime Minister of Canada from December 29, 1921 to June 28, 1926; from September 25, 1926 to August 7, 1930; and from October 23, 1935 to November 15, 1948...

8 The Right Honourable Sir Lyman Poore Duff
Lyman Poore Duff
Sir Lyman Poore Duff, GCMG, PC, QC was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and briefly served as Acting Governor General of Canada in 1931 and 1940....

British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

March 17, 1933 –January 7, 1944 Bennett
9 The Right Honourable Thibaudeau Rinfret
Thibaudeau Rinfret
Thibaudeau Rinfret, PC was a Canadian jurist and Chief Justice of Canada and acting Governor General of Canada in 1952.-Personal life:...

Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

January 8, 1944 – June 22, 1954 King
William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King, PC, OM, CMG was the dominant Canadian political leader from the 1920s through the 1940s. He served as the tenth Prime Minister of Canada from December 29, 1921 to June 28, 1926; from September 25, 1926 to August 7, 1930; and from October 23, 1935 to November 15, 1948...

10 The Right Honourable Patrick Kerwin
Patrick Kerwin
Patrick Kerwin, PC , was a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.Kerwin was born in Sarnia, Ontario to Patrick Kerwin and Ellen Gavin. After graduating from the Sarnia Collegiate Institute at the age of 16, he enrolled at Osgoode Hall Law School in 1906. He articled in Sarnia with R. V...

Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

July 1, 1954 – February 2, 1963 St. Laurent
Louis St. Laurent
Louis Stephen St. Laurent, PC, CC, QC , was the 12th Prime Minister of Canada from 15 November 1948, to 21 June 1957....

11 The Right Honourable Robert Taschereau
Robert Taschereau
Robert Taschereau, CC, PC was a lawyer who became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and who briefly served as acting Governor General of Canada following the death of Georges Vanier in 1967.-Biography:...

Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

April 22, 1963 – September 1, 1967 Pearson
Lester B. Pearson
Lester Bowles "Mike" Pearson, PC, OM, CC, OBE was a Canadian professor, historian, civil servant, statesman, diplomat, and politician, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis...

12 The Right Honourable John Robert Cartwright
John Robert Cartwright
John Robert Cartwright, was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.Born in Toronto, Cartwright was the son of James Strachan Cartwright and Jane Elizabeth Young...

Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

September 1, 1967 – March 23, 1970 Pearson
Lester B. Pearson
Lester Bowles "Mike" Pearson, PC, OM, CC, OBE was a Canadian professor, historian, civil servant, statesman, diplomat, and politician, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis...

13 The Right Honourable Gérald Fauteux
Gérald Fauteux
Joseph Honoré Gérald Fauteux, was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1970 to 1973....

Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

March 23, 1970 – December 23, 1973 Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau
Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, , usually known as Pierre Trudeau or Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984.Trudeau began his political career campaigning for socialist ideals,...

14 The Right Honourable Bora Laskin
Bora Laskin
Bora Laskin, PC, CC, FRSC was a Canadian jurist, who served on the Supreme Court of Canada for fourteen years, including a decade as its Chief Justice.-Early life:...

Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

December 27, 1973 – March 26, 1984 Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau
Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, , usually known as Pierre Trudeau or Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984.Trudeau began his political career campaigning for socialist ideals,...

15 The Right Honourable Brian Dickson
Brian Dickson
Robert George Brian Dickson, , commonly known as Brian Dickson, was appointed Chief Justice of Canada on April 18, 1984. He retired on June 30, 1990 and died October 17, 1998.-Career:...

Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

April 18, 1984 – June 30, 1990 Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau
Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, , usually known as Pierre Trudeau or Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984.Trudeau began his political career campaigning for socialist ideals,...

16 The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer
Antonio Lamer
Joseph Antonio Charles Lamer, PC, CC, CD was a Canadian lawyer, jurist and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.-Personal life:...

Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

July 1, 1990 – January 6, 2000 Mulroney
Brian Mulroney
Martin Brian Mulroney, was the 18th Prime Minister of Canada from September 17, 1984, to June 25, 1993 and was leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1983 to 1993. His tenure as Prime Minister was marked by the introduction of major economic reforms, such as the Canada-U.S...

17 The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin
Beverley McLachlin
Beverley McLachlin, PC is the Chief Justice of Canada, the first woman to hold this position. She also serves as a Deputy of the Governor General of Canada.-Early life:...

British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

January 7, 2000 – present Chrétien
Jean Chrétien
Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien , known commonly as Jean Chrétien is a former Canadian politician who was the 20th Prime Minister of Canada. He served in the position for over ten years, from November 4, 1993 to December 12, 2003....


External links