Canada’s 1st female chief justice recalls ‘wonderful moments’ with Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s quiet eloquence, incisiveness and victories for women’s rights is what the former head of Canada’s top court says she will remember most about the U.S. Supreme Court justice, who died Friday at the age of 87.

“I write in my memoir about a lunch at a restaurant in the Gatineau hills and our talk about the progress of women in Canada,” former chief justice Beverley McLachlin recalled in an interview with CBC News Network.

“‘What is the history of the progress of women in Canada?’ she asked. And I found myself launching into a series of stories, beginning with the Famous Five. Wonderful moments.”

Ginsburg was first appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993 by then-president Bill Clinton, becoming the court’s second female justice. She was embraced by supporters for her defence of the rights of women and minorities, and the strength and resilience she displayed in the face of personal loss and health crises.

Just four years before Ginsburg was appointed, McLachlin had been sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, ascending to the court’s top job in 2000 — the first woman to hold the position. McLachlin “drew confidence” from Ginsburg, who she said she first met at a lecture series in Cambridge, England.

WATCH | Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy and the impact of her death:

CBC Washington correspondent Keith Boag and lawyer Marie Henein talk about the mark Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left on the world and what could happen with her vacancy in the United States Supreme Court. 6:28

“We had a lovely tea in the garden after her lecture,” McLachlin said. “Over the years, we got together again and again. We had exchange visits with the Supreme Court of Canada and she was an enthusiastic supporter of that.”

McLachlin said that while Canada and the U.S. have a strong commitment to rights and freedoms, both countries have different approaches when it comes to protecting those freedoms.

“But from a point of view of the values … particularly on the issue of equality? The ideas Ruth Bader Ginsburg put forward resonate here in Canada very strongly,” she said.

As for what happens to Ginsburg’s advocacy now that she is gone, McLachlin said her legacy endures.

“Whatever happens, I don’t think anyone will be able to ignore the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she wrote so carefully, so powerfully in her decisions.”



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