In any account of twentieth-century Canadian law, Bora Laskin (1912-1984) looms large. Born in northern Ontario to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Laskin became a prominent human rights activist, university professor, and labour arbitrator before embarking on his 'accidental career' as a judge on the Ontario Court of Appeal (1965) and later Chief Justice of Canada (1973-1984). Throughout his professional career, he used the law to make Canada a better place for workers, racial and ethnic minorities, and the disadvantaged. As a judge, he sought to make the judiciary more responsive to modern Canadian expectations of justice and fundamental rights. In this rich biography, Philip Girard chronicles the life of a man who, at all points of his life, was a fighter for a better Canada: he fought antisemitism, corporate capital, omnipotent university boards, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and his own judicial colleagues in an effort to modernize institutions and re-shape Canadian law. Girard exploits a wealth of previously untapped archival sources to provide, in vivid detail, a critical assessment of a restless man on an important mission.
Table of Contents
Introduction Part I: Starting Out 1 The Lakehead 2 Law School 3 Articling 4 Harvard 5 Waiting Part II: The Academy 6 Professor 7 Osgoode 8 Revolution 9 Federalism Part III: Extra-curricular 10 Arbitrator 11 Human Rights 12 Academic Freedom Part IV: Transitions 13 Elder Statesman 14 The Accidental Judge 15 Ontario Court of Appeal Part V: The Supreme Court of Canada 16 On to Ottawa 17 Early Promise 18 Chief Justice 19 The Laskin Court 20 The Great Dissenter 21 Architect of Public Law 22 Patriation 23 The Berger Affair 24 Final Years 25 Epilogue notes illustration credits index
Philip Girard is a professor in the Department of Law, Department of History, and Canadian Studies Programme at Dalhousie University.