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Constance Glube was Canada’s first female provincial chief justice

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Constance Glube
Constance Glube

Halifax, the province of Nova Scotia and Canada have lost a trailblazing woman who set precedents in the civic and justice communities.

Constance Glube, the first female provincial chief justice in Canada and the first Jewish woman to hold that job, died in Halifax on Feb. 15 at 84. Glube was a woman who gave much of herself to the legal profession and the many community organizations who benefited from her extensive wisdom and expertise.

The Ottawa-born Glube was the first female city manager in Canada when she was named to the post in Halifax in 1974. Three years later, the graduate of McGill University (BA 1952) and Dalhousie Law School (LLB 1955) was named the first female judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia by then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau. In 1982, she was named the province’s chief justice, the first woman in Canada to hold a provincial chief justice position.

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In 1998, she became Chief Justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, where she served until her retirement in December 2004.

“We’ll miss her dearly,” Nova Scotia Chief Justice Michael MacDonald told the Halifax Chronicle Herald. MacDonald appeared before Glube, known to friends as Connie, as a young Sydney lawyer. He called her “a great Canadian.”

“There is no question Connie will have a place in history,” former Nova Scotia premier John Buchanan said. He was a law school classmate of Glube, and premier when Glube was named chief justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

He said Glube’s career saw her preside over many important legal cases in Nova Scotia history, including the Westray Mine inquiry.

Buchanan said he saw Glube only two weeks ago during a Canadian Bar Association event. The organization recognized Glube by awarding her the Constance R. Glube CBA Spirit Award, given to those who demonstrate “outstanding effort and contribution to women in law.” Glube attended as the special guest.

Buchanan praised Glube as a great lawyer, excellent city solicitor and superb judge who knew many people and treated everyone with grace and respect.

“Constance Glube’s contributions to the law and to our province are profound,” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil. “She maintained a lifelong commitment to gender, ethnic and religious equality and opportunity.”

An obituary on the Courts of Nova Scotia website said Glube, as a Jewish woman in Canada in the mid-1900s, showed “steadfast dedication to overcoming the gender, ethnic and religious barriers of her era.”

Glube and her late husband Richard were lifelong members of Shaar Shalom Synagogue, of which Richard’s father, Joe, was a founding member. Glube served the synagogue in many capacities, and she was also a member of Hadassah WIZO and the local Masada Club for Jewish seniors, as well as a board member of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, Atlantic region, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

A Queen’s Counsel and member of the Order of Canada (2005) and Order of Nova Scotia (2006), Glube served the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital Foundation as a member, vice-chair and finally chair from 2007 to 2009. She was honorary chair of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society and an honorary member of both the Canadian Bar Association and International Association of Women Judges. She received honorary degrees from Dalhousie University, Mount St. Vincent University and Saint Mary’s University.

Always a woman of integrity, dignity and generosity, Glube was never one to ruffle feathers, except in situations when she knew she was right, of course. Her constant smile made people feel welcome in her presence. You were the focus of her attention and were met with eye contact in any conversation. As a judge, she was known for complete impartiality and she led her private life the same way, remaining unaffiliated with external organizations to retain that judicial independence.

As a judge, she was focused on finding what was right and just. Her sense of fairness carried into her private life, where she treated everyone as an equal.

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After she retired in 2004, Glube developed a passion for bridge, calling it “my second career.” She became a Ruby Life Master, and days before her passing, she was eagerly anticipating a bridge cruise in late February.

Her children reflected on her generosity. “She gave back to so many causes because she felt she was so blessed in her life,” said son Harry.

Her eclectic interests included gardening, swimming, Symphony Nova Scotia, Neptune Theatre and other arts endeavours.

Glube is survived by her sister Sheila Pollock of Ottawa; sons John (Toronto), Harry (Wanda Pottle, Halifax), and Joe (Elizabeth, Oakville, Ont.); and daughter Erica Kolatch (Barry, Silver Springs, Md.), five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.