Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies


Sean MacDonald


In January of 2007, the Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, the Honourable Justice Michael MacDonald, sat down with the author for a conversation about the role of the judiciary in era since the introduction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The conversation sparked discussion about the broad spectrum of important relationships in which the judiciary must engage. These include the relationships that the judiciary maintains with the bar, the litigants before it, the media, the public and, ultimately, the personal and professional relationships that exist between individual members of the judiciary. Maintaining these relationships requires judges to engage in a variety of balancing acts. One systemic concern for judges is the sometimes difficult effect that these balancing acts may have on judicial independence. The issue is particularly acute in the Charter era as individual rights are increasingly emphasized, sometimes in preference to other rights or interests. For example, where is the appropriate balance between the media’s freedom of expression and a judge’s judicial independence? The need to balance individual rights and judicial independence resonates throughout much of this conversation. Chief Justice MacDonald brings a broad perspective to this conversation. He has been able to witness these issues play out in a variety of different contexts, both before and after the advent of the Charter. After graduating from Dalhousie Law School in 1979, he worked as a litigator in Sydney, Nova Scotia for fifteen years before being appointed to the Trial Division of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in April of 1995. In January of 2005, he was appointed Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, filling the void left by the retiring Honourable Justice Constance Glube.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.