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The Supreme Court of Canadamarker consists of the Chief Justice of Canada ( ) and eight Puisne Justices, all appointed by the Governor-in-Council (Governor General of Canada on the advice of his or her Cabinet). 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 prior to taking the oath of office as Chief Justice.

Judicial Council

The Chief Justice chairs the Canadian Judicial Council, 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.

Governor General

The Letters Patent of 1947 respecting the Office of Governor General 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 and exercise all the powers and duties of the Governor General. This has happened twice in the past, with Chief Justices Robert Taschereau and Sir Lyman Poore Duff acting as Governor General for brief periods following the death of a sitting Governor General. In 2005, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin was Administrator of Canada when then-Governor General, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, was hospitalized when she had a pacemaker 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 to bills passed by parliamentmarker, signing official documents or receiving credentials of newly appointed high commissioner and ambassadors. The Chief Justice of Canada is officially designated as the Deputy Governor General of Canada.

Other duties

The Chief Justice also sits on the advisory council of Canada's highest civilian order, the Order of Canada. In practice however, the Chief Justice abstains from voting on a candidate's removal from the order, presumably because this process has so far only applied to individuals convicted in a lower court of a criminal offence, and if that individual appealed their conviction all the way to the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice could be put in a conflict of interest.

Under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, each province has a three-person commission responsible for the modifying that province's federal ridings. 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

The current Chief Justice is The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, PC, 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 Columbiamarker Supreme Court, and a Justice on the British Columbia Court of Appeal. A graduate of the University of Albertamarker Faculty of Law, she has also practised law with various firms and taught law at the University of British Columbiamarker. She was born in Pincher Creek, Albertamarker, in 1943.

List of Chief Justices

Name Province Term Elevated by
1 Sir William Buell Richards Ontariomarker September 30, 1875 – January 10, 1879 N/A
2 Sir William Johnstone Ritchie New Brunswickmarker January 11, 1879 – September 25, 1892 Macdonald
3 Sir Samuel Henry Strong Ontariomarker December 13, 1892 – November 18, 1902 Thompson
4 Sir Henri Elzéar Taschereau Quebecmarker November 21, 1902 – May 2, 1906 Laurier
5 Sir Charles Fitzpatrick Quebecmarker June 4, 1906 – November 21, 1918 Laurier
6 Sir Louis Henry Davies Prince Edward Islandmarker November 23, 1918 – May 1, 1924 Borden
7 The Right Honourable Francis Alexander Anglin Ontariomarker September 16, 1924 – February 28, 1933 King
8 Sir Lyman Poore Duff British Columbiamarker March 17, 1933 –January 2, 1944 Bennett
9 The Right Honourable Thibaudeau Rinfret Quebecmarker January 8, 1944 – June 22, 1954 King
10 The Right Honourable Patrick Kerwin Ontariomarker July 1, 1954 – February 2, 1963 St. Laurent
11 The Right Honourable Robert Taschereau Quebecmarker April 22, 1963 – September 1, 1967 Pearson
12 The Right Honourable John Robert Cartwright Ontariomarker September 1, 1967 – March 23, 1970 Pearson
13 The Right Honourable Gérald Fauteux Quebecmarker March 23, 1970 – December 23, 1973 Trudeau
14 The Right Honourable Bora Laskin Ontariomarker December 27, 1973 – March 26, 1984 Trudeau
15 The Right Honourable Brian Dickson Manitobamarker April 18, 1984 – June 30, 1990 Trudeau
16 The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer Quebecmarker July 1, 1990 – January 6, 2000 Mulroney
17 The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin British Columbiamarker January 7, 2000 – present Chrétien


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