Nfld. & Labrador

Gay judge 'humbled' by apparent first for N.L. Supreme Court

Newfoundland and Labrador's newest judge says he looks forward to a time when a person's sexuality is no more important than the colour of their hair.

Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald sworn in Monday, after 3 decades practising law

Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald is the newest judge in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Canada's newest judge says never in his "wildest dreams" did he ever imagine that that a gay man could be appointed to a provincial supreme court — and talk openly about it during the swearing-in ceremony.

"I am humbled to be apparently Newfoundland and Labrador's first gay judge," Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald told a packed St. John's courtroom on Monday, joking that in the long history of the court, "I'd be flabbergasted if there wasn't at least one other."

There was a time when many of us felt we were required to lead a hidden life.- Judge Sandy MacDonald

MacDonald's appointment to the bench comes after three decades practising law.

He's an expert in construction and natural resources — including oil and gas — and has been named by his peers as one of the best lawyers in the country.

For the past 10 years, he has been managing partner at Cox & Palmer in St. John's.

"In addition to balancing a complex legal career, I navigated the perhaps even more complex path of a gay man during the '80s and '90s and I watched with pride and amazement the fight for equality led by many brave and resolute Canadian heroes," MacDonald said.

"It may seem hard to believe for many from the perspective of 2017, but there was a time when many of us felt we were required to lead a hidden life, to be careful about what we would say about our personal life."

Judge Sandy MacDonald, right, is sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court, Ray Whalen. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

He thanked his longtime partner Kevin Angel, along with legal mentors Alex Hickman and Doug Hunt, whose suit and robes he wore during Monday's ceremony.

"You cannot know how profoundly important acceptance is to those who feel like an outsider looking in," he said.

​"I can tell you never in my wildest dreams as a young man did I ever think I could be a judge or for that matter, be a managing partner of a large law firm or live openly with my partner … or talk about him in this room."