Since her passing on Feb. 15, many glowing and well-deserved tributes have been written and spoken about the remarkable life and achievements of Constance Glube, better known to her friends as “Connie.” This outstanding woman was a trailblazer who, notwithstanding her gender and ethnicity, rose through the legal ranks, shattered the glass ceiling and ultimately was appointed chief justice of Nova Scotia. While our professional paths frequently crossed during her time on the bench, my most precious memories stem from the other areas where our lives intersected.
Originally from Ottawa, she married into the Glube family of Halifax. The Glubes had a very close and long-standing relationship with the Goldberg family. Both were founding members of the Shaar Shalom Synagogue and very active in all aspects of the Jewish community, not least of which was an abiding love of and support for Israel. Connie had a staunch commitment to the egalitarianism of the Shaar Shalom congregation and regularly attended and participated in Shabbat services, always sitting in the same spot and next to the same people.
In the mid-’90s, my wife and I had the pleasure of participating with the Glubes in an Atlantic Canadian mission to Prague and Israel. During our visit to Jerusalem, we had a tour of the Supreme Court followed by a private meeting with one of the court’s female jurists. I vividly recall Connie’s joy and pride bearing firsthand witness to the deep and abiding commitment of the Jewish state to the rule of law and importance of the judiciary as a bulwark of democracy.
While Connie’s late husband, Dick, was an avid sailor who once sailed a yacht across the Atlantic Ocean, she was a keen bridge player, a hobby and passion that we shared. Connie approached the game as she did all other aspects of her life. She combined exceptional ability and competitive zeal with a pleasant and unflappable demeanour and achieved great success at all levels of tournament competition. Although her ability to dedicate time to the game took a backseat to her career, she resumed competitive bridge after retirement without losing any of her mental acuity or love of the game.
Deeply committed to her community, religion and the administration of justice, Connie was above all a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She took great pride in all of her family’s many accomplishments and was a steadfast rock and support in times of adversity. She believed in the importance of giving back, both in terms of time and resources.
From 2007 to 2009 she was chair of the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital Foundation, which is the fundraising wing of the main hospital network in Halifax, and helped recruit me to the board, where I had the pleasure of serving with her for some years. She was a significant contributor to the UJA campaign and any number of other causes. Her philanthropy epitomized the way she lived – generosity at a leadership level without pretension. To canvass her was a delight. She would thank me for taking the time to solicit for such a worthy cause. She had no air of self-importance and made it clear that it was the cause that was important.
Needless to say, Connie’s view of justice transcended the practice and dispensing of the law. She held a steadfast belief in the importance of human dignity and the protection of basic rights. When the Asper family approached people from across the country to support their vision of building a Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg, it was Connie who helped solicit donations in Nova Scotia and became a founding member of the Human Rights Museum board.
Notwithstanding all of her achievements and awards, she was always approachable, honest, respectful, funny and, above all, a loyal and caring friend. Her husband enjoyed working with friends on building and maintaining miniature but working trains, one of which was kept in their home. Even though he had passed away almost 20 years ago, Connie continued to entertain his surviving “railroaders” on a weekly basis, and always left them cookies and cakes to enjoy during their working visits to her home. Such was the nature of this extraordinary human being whose real legacy may be how one can achieve great professional success while at the same time balancing career with family, friends, leisure activities and community involvement.
Who was this woman of valour whose many accomplishments were due to intelligence, ambition and hard work but always tempered with even-handedness and humility? Connie can best be described by drawing on expressions from her twin passions of bridge and Judaism. She was a true “life master” and “mensch,” and she will be sorely missed by all.
Victor Goldberg is a lawyer in Halifax. He is a past chair of the Atlantic Jewish Council.