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Toronto Metropolitan University appoints the Honourable J. Michael MacDonald

Retired Justice to lead review into recent actions at TMU
November 07, 2023
J. Michael MacDonald.

Toronto Metropolitan University has appointed retired Chief Justice J. Michael MacDonald as external reviewer in response to the open letter signed by students within the faculty of law and sent to the faculty.

In response to an open letter posted by a collection of individual students at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), the university has engaged the expertise of retired Chief Justice J. Michael MacDonald as an external reviewer. 

The open letter, posted on October 20, 2023, was directed to the administration of the Lincoln Alexander School of Law. It was one of several events and actions that have occurred at TMU in recent weeks, following the conflict in the Middle East.

The university is engaging Mr. MacDonald as an independent expert to undertake a thorough, judicious review of the open letter in a manner that respects the seriousness of the situation. As part of his mandate, Mr. MacDonald will determine whether the Student Code of Non-Academic Conduct has been breached and, if so, what actions are appropriate.

“Given the impact of the open letter on TMU community members, our partners, and our stakeholders, we feel a formal external review is the best way forward. It will give TMU community members an opportunity to be heard, while taking into account the significant complexities of the challenges before us,” said president and vice-chancellor, Mohamed Lachemi. “We are extremely grateful to Mr. MacDonald for offering his guidance and expertise, and we look forward to receiving his determinations.”

About the Honourable J. Michael MacDonald

The Honourable J. Michael MacDonald (external link)  was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in 1995, and in 1998 was appointed the Associate Chief Justice. From 2004 to 2019 he served as the 22nd Chief Justice of Nova Scotia and the Chief Justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

From 2021 to 2023, Mr. MacDonald served as one of three Commissioners of the Mass Casualty Commission, the joint public inquiry created to examine the April 18-19, 2020 mass casualty in Nova Scotia and to provide meaningful recommendations to help make communities safer in the future.

Mr. MacDonald’s access to justice initiatives have been recognized by Cape Breton University with an honorary doctorate of laws degree. The Canadian Bar Association (Nova Scotia Branch) has renamed its annual access to justice award the “J. Michael MacDonald Access to Justice Award” to honour his work in this area.

A member of the Canadian Judicial Council for 20 years, Justice MacDonald chaired several of its committees, most recently the Judicial Conduct Committee.

Resources and support available to community members

Community members who may need support in managing their well-being are encouraged to access the many supports available to them: 

  • Students can access well-being services and support through the Centre for Student Development and Counselling.
  • Keep.meSAFE (external link)  provides counselling services for students, with 24/7 access to licensed counsellors via telephone and mobile chat. Mental health care can be provided in over 60 languages and students can access the service from outside of Canada too.
  • Student Care offers support to students navigating a variety of complex factors while they study, including financial and academic as well as physical and mental health challenges. Students are encouraged to connect with them at
  • For concerns about safety, we encourage you to reach out to the Community Safety and Security (CSS) team at – personal safety planning is also available; should you wish to use these services, please contact
  • Faculty and staff members affected by these troubling events can connect with the Employee and Family Assistance Program for counselling and other supports.

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