Roderick Alexander MacDonald

Where Are They Now?


Roderick Alexander Macdonald, O.C., FRSC

Ronald E. WinterProfessor Roderick Alexander Macdonald is F.R. Scott Professor of Constitutional and Public Law at McGill University and a member of the Law Societies of both Ontario and Quebec. Professor Macdonald holds a B.A. from York University (1969), an LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School (1972), an LL.L. from the Civil Law Faculty, University of Ottawa (1974) and an LL.M. from the University of Toronto (1975). He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Montreal (2010) and from Osgoode Hall Law School (2011). 

He commenced his career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Windsor in 1975, where he served notably as Co-Director of the Community Law Programme (1977-79) and where he commenced the teaching of the common law in French (1977). In 1979 he joined the Faculty of Law at McGill, where he served as Associate Dean (Academic) (1981-1983) and Dean (1984-1989). He teaches and publishes in the areas of civil law, commercial law, administrative law, constitutional law, jurisprudence and access to justice. Since 1975 he has published more than 200 books, essay collections, articles, reports and study papers.  

Following his Deanship at McGill, he chaired a Task Force on Access to Justice of the Ministère de la justice du Québec (1989-91). He served as a consultant to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, to the Ontario Civil Justice Review and to the Federal Department of Justice on the interaction of federal law and the Civil Code of Québec. From 1989 to 1995 he was Director of the Law in Society Programme of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and from 1997 to 2000, he was the founding President of the Law Commission of Canada, the federal law reform agency. 

Between 2002 and 2004 he was a consultant to the World Bank in Ukraine and drafted that country's current law on secured transactions. In 2003 and 2004 he was a consultant on civil judgement execution with the CIDA-sponsored Legal Reform Project in the Republic of Vietnam. Since 2002 he has been a member of the Canadian delegation to Working Group VI (Secured Transactions) of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and was on the team that drafted the Legislative Guide to Secured Transactions Law (2009). In 2007-2008 he chaired a Task Force for the Ministère de la justice du Québec that produced a Report on Anti-Slapp Legislation, the recommendations of which were enacted into the Quebec Code of Civil Procedure. In November 2011 he was named one of three Commissioners on the Commission of Inquiry into Corruption in the Construction Industry in Quebec (the Charbonneau Commission).  

Professor Macdonald has lectured widely across Canada, the United States, Australia, Chile, England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, and has held visiting positions at Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, the Australian National University, the Université Blaise Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand and the Université Paul Cézanne in Aix-Marseilles. 

In 1996 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 2004 he was named a Fellow of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. In April 2007, Professor Macdonald was awarded a Killam Prize, Canada's most distinguished annual award for outstanding career achievement in research in the humanities and social sciences. In September 2007, he was honoured with the University of Ottawa Civil Law Faculty’s Ordre du mérite and in November 2007 was awarded the Sir William Dawson Medal for the Social Sciences by the Royal Society of Canada. In 2009 he made history when he became the 111th President of the Royal Society of Canada, making him the first law professor to hold the post. He was awarded the Ramon Hnatyshyn Medal by the Canadian Bar Association in 2010. He received the McGill University Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Learning in 2011, the Paul-André Crépeau Award for Excellence in Comparative Law Scholarship by the Canadian Bar Association, Quebec Branch in 2012 and the John W. Durnford Prize for Teaching Excellence by the Faculty of Law, McGill University in 2012.  

Professor Macdonald was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012 and received one of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals in 2013. On November 16, 2012 at an event at the Ottawa Convention Centre to mark the 130th anniversary of Royal Society of Canada (RSC), Governor General David Johnston announced the creation of a new library at Walter House, the RSC’s new headquarters in Ottawa. “I am equally delighted to announce that this new reading room, with the support and encouragement of his many friends, colleagues and loved ones, is to be named in honour of Rod Macdonald,” he added.  Former McGill Law Professor Macdonald’s leadership of the RSC was transformative, resulting in a greatly strengthened National Academy, as well as in the acquisition of Walter House, the first permanent home in the 130-year history of the RSC.  

In June of 2014 Professor Macdonald will be awarded the McGill University Gold Medal for Career Research Achievement.  

Roderick Macdonald – 1962-63 10A
Class with Miss Myrtle Adams at front steps of YMCI