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Truth Be Told  By  cover art

Truth Be Told

By: Beverley McLachlin
Narrated by: Beverley McLachlin
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Publisher's Summary

Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin offers an intimate and revealing look at her life from her childhood in the Alberta foothills to her career on the Supreme Court, where she helped to shape the social and moral fabric of the country.

As a young girl, Beverley McLachlin’s world was often full of wonder - at the expansive prairie vistas around her, at the stories she discovered in the books at her local library, and at the diverse people who passed through her parents’ door. While her family was poor, their lives were rich in the ways that mattered most. Even at a young age, she had an innate sense of justice, which was reinforced by the lessons her parents taught her: Everyone deserves dignity. All people are equal. Those who work hard reap the rewards. Willful, spirited, and unusually intelligent, she discovered in Pincher Creek an extraordinary tapestry of people and perspectives that informed her worldview going forward.

Still, life in the rural Prairies was lonely, and gaining access to education - especially for girls - wasn’t always easy. As a young woman, McLachlin moved to Edmonton to pursue a degree in philosophy. There, she discovered her passion lay not in academia, but in the real world, solving problems directly related to the lives of the people around her. And in the law, she found the tools to do exactly that.

She soon realized, though, that the world was not always willing to accept her. In her early years as an articling student and lawyer, she encountered sexism, exclusion, and old boys’ clubs at every turn. And outside the courtroom, personal loss and tragedies struck close to home. Nonetheless, McLachlin was determined to prove her worth, and her love of the law and the pursuit of justice pulled her through the darkest moments.

McLachlin’s meteoric rise through the courts soon found her serving on the highest court in the country, becoming the first woman to be named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. She rapidly distinguished herself as a judge of renown, one who was never afraid to take on morally complex or charged debates. Over the next 18 years, McLachlin presided over the most prominent cases in the country - involving Charter challenges, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia. One judgment at a time, she laid down a legal legacy that proved that fairness and justice were not luxuries of the powerful but rather obligations owed to each and every one of us.

With warmth, honesty, and deep wisdom, McLachlin invites us into her legal and personal life - into the hopes and doubts, the triumphs and losses on and off the bench. Through it all, her constant faith in justice remained her true north. In an age of division and uncertainty, McLachlin’s memoir is a reminder that justice and the rule of law remain our best hope for a progressive and bright future.

©2019 Beverley McLachlin (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

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Impressive

I recently read a biography of the newly retired Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court. When I learned that Beverley McLachlin had just published her memoir, I had to read it.

The book is well written. McLachlin tells the story of her life, both personal and professional. She got my attention right at the beginning by describing the visit to the Canadian Supreme Court by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg of the United States Supreme Court. I particularly enjoyed learning how Canadian law differs from American law. She was the first female Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court. I found it interesting that Canada appoints the Chief Justice from within the Court and they have to alternate a Chief Justice from Quebec then one from anywhere else in Canada. Also, of the nine Justices three must always be appointed from Quebec. McLachlin managed to bring a polarized, dysfunctional court into the center and working congenially together. That reveals great leadership skills. McLachlan’s love of the law and her brilliant mind comes through in the book. I would love to read more by this exceptional woman.

The book is eleven hours and nine minutes. Beverley McLachlin does an excellent job narrating her own book. It was great to hear memoir in her own voice.

4 people found this helpful

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For both Canadians and Americans

I enjoyed this book much more than I had anticipated.

First, full disclosure, before I retired I practiced law in Vancouver, British Columbia for some 30 years. I took Justice McLachlin’s class on Evidence when I was in law school, I sometimes appeared before her when she was sitting in the BC Supreme Court, I read her judgments. So I was obviously interested in her story.

[A brief explanation for all you Americans. British Columbia is one of the Provinces of Canada, akin to a state in the United States].

“Truth be Told” is divided roughly into three sections. First, her life growing up in a small town in Alberta and starting her legal career ; next her move to British Columbia to continue her practice and eventually to teach law; third her appointments to the various court levels in British Columbia [County court; BC Supreme court; BC Court of Appeals; Supreme Court of Canada]. The third part is her discussion of some judgments while sitting as a Supreme Court of Canada judge.

For obvious reasons the book “took off“ for me when she talked about moving to British Columbia and thereafter.

But in submitting this review, I pondered what, if anything, it had to offer beyond, well, lawyers from British Columbia. Plenty.

Much of her focus is on the difficulties women faced in a “man’s world“ ( circa 1968 and beyond) and whether it was in philosophy, where she studied prior to law, or as a young articled student and then lawyer in both Alberta and British Columbia, slogging against the perception that women didn’t belong in the man’s world of the legal profession. Anyone interested in the position of women trying to advance in such a forum, this is for you.

When she discusses her role as the Supreme Court of Canada Justice she discusses the judgments such as rulings dealing with free speech and hate speech/ literature, the evolution of Canadian law on sexual assault [when she first started practicing it was not considered sexual assault unless there was penetration and a women’s testimony wasn’t enough, it had to be cooperated by another person and it had to be reported soon after the “alleged“ event]. She discusses the law of right to die and when her young husband passed away, asked for her assistance ( she could not) and how that influenced her later deliberations. Those types of decisions are highly relevant to both current Canada and the United States today

Most of all, and this applies to anyone interested in the law, I was fascinated in seeing her as a “person“ ( a mother; a student) and her story of achievement, as opposed to seeing her only as a “justice of the Supreme Court of Canada”

If anyone is interested in reading about Justice Ruth Ginsburg, the same applies to Justice McLachlin.

For all of these reasons, I highly recommend.

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Inspirational and delightfully educational

As a US citizen, of an age similar to the author’s, married to a lawyer (now retired) and a frequent visitor to Canada, I thoroughly enjoyed this journey and the way the laws were spelled out in terms a layman can understand.

Hers were heady times in the law in both countries and I was intrigued at how the Canadian Supreme Court judiciously handled them.

1 person found this helpful