In April, Prime Minister Mulroney appointed Beverley McLachlin to be one of the nine judges on Canada’s Supreme Court. Unlike court appointments in the United States, Canada’s appointments are not submitted to public scrutiny even though the 1981 Charter has given the Supreme Court enormous powers. To the general public, McLachlin is a completely unknown personality.
By accident, pro-lifers did find out something about Justice McLachlin just before her move to Ottawa. During a pre-trial hearing on the pro-life blockade of the Vancouver abortuary on February 21, 1989, the then British Columbia Chief Justice McLachlin noted the unwillingness of the Attorney General’s office to lay criminal charges. As Western Report (March 13) noted, in the face of the refusal she made explicit the court’s intention. Stated McLachlin, “I suppose that doesn’t rule out that the (civil) proceedings be converted to criminal proceedings by order of the court…” Two days later, on February 23, presiding judge, Josiah Wood, made good on that threat and instituted criminal charges with their more severe fines and prison terms.