Faculty of Law

Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law

Justice Mark G. Peacock, Law’74

Recipient of the 2017 Justice Thomas Cromwell Distinguished Public Service Award

Thank You Speech (English version below / Bilingual version)

(April 24, 2017)

The Hon. Tom Cromwell, Justice Mark Peacock, Dean Bill Flanagan
The Honourable Thomas Cromwell, Law’76, LLD’10, award winner Justice Mark Peacock, Law’74, and Dean Bill Flanagan, at an alumni reception on April 24 in Montreal’s Palais de justice

I am both grateful and humbled to receive this award. I want to thank Dean Flanagan and the Queen’s Faculty of Law for finding me worthy. To have Tom Cromwell, after whom the award is named, come from Ottawa to present it, is as we say in Gaelic: “la cerise sur la sundae.”

I acknowledge and thank Chief Justice Fournier and Associate Chief Justice Petras for their support of me and my colleagues. They work tirelessly to assign critical legal services with a chronic shortage of judges. If Superior Court judges are like fishes and loaves, Chief Justice Fournier is required to work miracles with the 183 judges serving a population of 8.3 million. He deserves our collective support.

As for Dean Flanagan, he has done more than any other to recruit new Queen’s Law students in Quebec. When I came to Quebec in 1982, there were few Queen’s Law graduates. Now, “les Quebecois de Queen’s” number 160 graduates.

Halfway between U of T and the Université de Montréal, Queen’s is ideally situated to open law students’ eyes to the uniqueness of Canada’s bi-jural system.

Our class, Law’74, is “tissée serrée” so I would also like to thank our class president Marlene Thomas, QC, here present and my classmates Dave Allgood from Toronto and Peter Trousdale from Kingston for proposing me for this award. 

My efforts at public service could not have happened without the unflagging support of my wife Dru and our children Grant and Claire. I share this award with them and also with the principled and devoted jurists with whom I have been privileged to collaborate over the years. I am delighted to have some of them here with us: The Honourable Thomas Cromwell (Law’76, LLD’10), research director, the Canadian Bar Association National Court Reform Project (1989); Associate Chief Justice Eva Petras from the Montreal Bar Committee on Costs (1998); and Mr. Justice Pierre-C. Gagnon and Me. Louis Brousseau, former CBA Quebec Branch presidents, for the Citizenship Program (1996 to the present), Quebec Lawyers and Judges Teaching the Canadian and Quebec Charters to Quebec Secondary School Students, now part of Educaloi offered through the Quebec Bar.

Well, may you ask how could a unilingual student from Queen’s Law become a Québec Superior Court judge?

Most of the answers to that question originate from lessons learned and values inculcated by the Queen’s Faculty of Law. And by following a dream. 

My mother was Queen’s Arts’36. She captained the 1936 Queen’s Women’s Basketball Team that won the Canadian Championship that year. She bled red, blue and gold. My going to Queen’s Law was not an option. 

I have always sought to replicate the collegiality that we felt at Queen’s. The old saying is, “in first year they scare you to death,” and on the first day of law school, we were nothing if not all scared.

Some law schools operated on the first-year model: “Look to the left of you, look to the right of you; at the end of first year, one of those people will not be there.”  At Queen’s, then-Dean Dan Soberman said very simply to the 136 of us, “we have taken a lot of time to choose you people and we know that all of you working together can graduate.” And that is essentially what happened. 

As alumni, we all have our inspiring professor stories. Queen’s Law profs of my day cared greatly for their students. They didn’t simply seek to fill the jar, they lit the light of lifelong learning and commitment to the rule of law. 

My personal favourites were Bill Lederman and JohnWhyte in Public Law, David Mullan in Admin and Sonny Sadinsky in Civil Pro. For example, when Dean Bill Lederman talked about Roncarelli and Duplessis, those two classic Canadian litigants came to life in the then-“dungenous” Macdonald Hall. We felt Dean Lederman’s profound sense of Canadian indignity at the government bully abusing power over a citizen whose only sin was not to share the bully’s religious views. The power of the law to right wrongs – as the school motto says Droit Soit Fait - inspired us. 

When we left Queen’s, Law’74 grads knew we had received a privileged education and that we had a responsibility “that right should be done.”

I grew up in a French-speaking suburb of Ottawa. At École Secondaire André Laurendeau, the language of instruction in my classes was unilingual English, although 95 per cent of my classmates were Franco-Ontarians. In hindsight, it made no sense but that was just the way it was in 1950’s Ontario.

While I was at Queen’s and then after when I went to Toronto to work as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of Ontario, I began to miss hearing French. Quite simply, I was embarrassed for the linguistic paradox in which I had grown up. At the same time, there was an understanding developing for the first time in Canada that you could, as an English Canadian, learn and take pride in Canada’s French heritage. 

I had a dream that put me on the quest to learn French and through learning French to learn Québec civil law and through learning Québec civil law, to know Québec. I live that dream every day.

I consider myself an Ontarian by birth and a Québecer by conviction.

I have exercised two good judgments in my life: The first was marrying my wife Dru and the second was following Professor Sadinsky’s recommendation for a research director for the National CBA Court Reform committee. When I called Professor Sadinsky looking for a recommendation, he said there was a former student of his who was a really great church organ player but had decided to teach law at Dalhousie. He said this guy Cromwell is probably looking for weekend church organ work at Anglican churches around Halifax, but if he has any free time, he might be interested in this volunteer research director’s job.

The intellectual rigour and inspiration for the committee was provided by Tom Cromwell and Mr. Justice Peter Seaton, then a senior member of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, our Chairman. Justice Seaton was as intelligent, generous and humble a man as you could hope to find. He was a progressive reformer who led by example. 

Thanks to Tom, our committee produced a study called “Court Reform in Canada,” which broke the ground for the subsequent seminal CBA report on the Systems of Civil Justice. Two of Tom’s important legacies from that early Court reform work were the establishment of the Canadian Forum for Civil Justice, which collects and disseminates the best ideas on court reform across Canada… and the concept of proportionality. 

Many of the groundbreaking ideas from those court reform studies, including proportionality and alternate dispute resolution now form the basis for our Québec Code of Civil Procedure. Tom and Mr. Justice Seaton were pioneers in the late 1980s for Canadian Court Reform.

For me as I suspect for many of you, the example of public service was set by our parents. Both my father and mother served in the Canadian Armed Forces in the Second World War. 

Public service was not something that was required in my family; it was simply something that you did. 

At 30 years old, my father as the navigator, was the oldest member of his 20- something bomber crew. They would eat supper at midnight and then load into a freezing Lancaster bomber. Working at a miniscule table just down from the pilots, it was my father’s job, to direct their plane into the bomber stream of hundreds of similar bombers that brought the war to Germany, and then if they were lucky, navigate them back to England. 

No sacrifice that I make in my job ever matches my father’s.

My mother was the first woman in Ottawa to become a lieutenant in the newly formed Canadian Royal Women’s Naval Service. My mother graduated from Queen’s Arts’36. After working in naval ship building, she was sent to work for the covertly-named British Passport Office at Rockefeller Center in New York City, with other Canadian women officers. She worked in one of the largest intelligence operations of its kind at the time, headed by Canadian Sir William Stephenson, the man called Intrepid, and Churchill’s chief of intelligence operations in the western hemisphere.

My parents’ generation gave to the service of their fellow citizens so that we could benefit from the peace and prosperity we have today. It is my sincere hope that, as the new generations of Queen’s Law graduates here present, you will be able to carry forward that important legacy by your own public service to ensure that Canada remains a beacon for respect for the rule of law and justice for all. 

Canadian citizens now pay me to undertake public service every day. Doing the job the way I would want it done if I were a litigant, takes all my time. 

Public service provides lifelong friendships and a great sense of accomplishment. If that is what you want, public service is never work.

 

Thank You Speech as delivered, Montreal Courthouse, April 24, 2017  

I am both grateful and humbled to receive this award. I want to thank Dean Flanagan and the Queen’s Faculty of Law for finding me worthy. To have Tom Cromwell, after whom the award is named, come from Ottawa to present it, is as we say in Gaelic: “la cerise sur la sundae.”

Je tiens à exprimer ma reconnaissance et mes remerciements au Juge en chef Fournier et au juge en chef adjoint Petras pour leur soutien envers moi et mes collègues. Les juges en chef travaillent sans relâche pour assigner des services juridiques essentiels, et ce en dépit de la pénurie de juges. Imaginez un instant que les juges de la Cour supérieure soient des poissons et des pains comme dans les évangiles. Dans cette optique, le juge en chef Fournier doit faire des miracles en utilisant ses 183 juges pour rendre justice à une population de presque 8,3 millions. Il mérite notre soutien collectif.

Quant au doyen Flanagan, il en a fait plus que tout autre doyen de la faculté de droit pour recruter au Québec. En venant au Québec en 1982, je me joignais à une petite minorité de juristes issus de Queen’s. Aujourd’hui, nous sommes 160 anciens de Queen’s au Québec.

À mi-chemin entre l’Université de Toronto et l’Université de Montréal, Queen's est idéalement située pour ouvrir les yeux des étudiants en droit sur l'unicité du système bi-juridique du Canada.

Our class, Law’74,  is “tissée serrée” so I would also like to thank our class president Marlene Thomas, QC, here present and my classmates Dave Allgood from Toronto and Peter Trousdale from Kingston for proposing me for this award. 

My efforts at public service could not have happened without the unflagging support of my wife Dru and our children Grant and Claire. I share this award with them and also with the principled and devoted jurists with whom I have been privileged to collaborate over the years. I am delighted to have some of them here with us: The Honourable Thomas Cromwell (Law’76, LLD’10), research director, the Canadian Bar Association National Court Reform Project (1989); Associate Chief Justice Eva Petras from the Montreal Bar Committee on Costs (1998) and Mr. Justice Pierre-C. Gagnon and Me. Louis Brousseau, former CBA Quebec Branch presidents, for the Citizenship Program (1996 to the present), Quebec Lawyers and Judges Teaching the Canadian and Quebec Charters to Quebec Secondary School students, now part of Educaloi offered through the Quebec Bar.

Well, may you ask how could a unilingual student from Queen’s Law become a Québec Superior Court judge?

Most of the answers to that question originate from lessons learned and values inculcated by the Queen’s Faculty of Law. And by following a dream. 

My mother was Queen’s Arts’36. She captained the 1936 Queen’s Women’s Basketball Team that won the Canadian Championship that year. She bled red, blue and gold. My going to Queen’s Law was not an option. 

I have always sought to replicate the collegiality that we felt at Queen’s. The old saying is, “in first year they scare you to death,” and on the first day of law school, we were nothing if not all scared.

Some law schools operated on the first-year model: “Look to the left of you, look to the right of you; at the end of first year, one of those people will not be there.” At Queen’s, then-Dean Dan Soberman said very simply to the 136 of us, “we have taken a lot of time to choose you people and we know that all of you working together can graduate.”…And that is essentially what happened. 

En tant qu'anciens étudiants, nous avons tous nos histoires de profs inspirants. À l’époque de mes études à Queen’s, nos profs prenaient soin de nous. Ils ne se sont pas simplement contentés de remplir le verre mais ils ont allumé en nous la lumière de la formation permanente et de l'engagement envers la règle de droit.

Mes profs favoris furent Lederman et Whyte en droit public, Mullan en droit administratif et Sonny Sadinsky en procédure civile. Par exemple, lorsque le doyen Lederman parlait de Roncarelli et Duplessis, ces deux justiciables classiques canadiens revenaient à la vie au MacDonald Hall, nous sentions que le doyen Lederman avait un profond sentiment d'indignation canadienne face à un intimidateur au gouvernement qui abusait de son pouvoir à l’égard d’un citoyen dont le seul péché était de ne pas de partager les opinions religieuses de l'intimidateur. Le pouvoir que le droit a, de redresser les torts, conformément à la devise de l'école – Droit soit fait – nous inspirait.

J'ai grandi dans une banlieue francophone d'Ottawa. À l'École secondaire André Laurendeau, l’enseignement était dispensé surtout en anglais même si 95% de mes camarades de classe  étaient franco-ontariens. Cela n'avait aucun sens, mais il en était ainsi dans l’Ontario des années 1950.

Pendant que j'étais à Queens et par la suite, lorsque je suis allé à Toronto pour travailler en tant que recherchiste à la Cour suprême de l'Ontario, j'ai commencé à avoir la nostalgie d'entendre le français. Tout simplement, le paradoxe linguistique dans lequel j'avais grandi m’embarrassait. Au même moment, il y avait une compréhension qui se développait pour la première fois au Canada que vous pourriez et devriez, en tant que canadien anglais, apprendre et être fier de l'héritage français du Canada.

J'ai eu un rêve qui m'a poussé à apprendre le français et, en apprenant le français, j’ai appris le droit civil. En apprenant le droit civil, j’ai appris à connaître le Québec. Je vis ce rêve tous les jours.

I consider myself an Ontarian by birth and a Québecer by conviction.

I have exercised two good judgments in my life: The first was marrying my wife Dru and the second was following Professor Sadinsky’s recommendation for a research director for the National CBA Court Reform committee. When I called, Professor Sadinsky looking for a recommendation, he said there was a former student of his who was a really great church organ player but had decided to teach law at Dalhousie. He said this guy Cromwell is probably looking for weekend church organ work at Anglican churches around Halifax, but if he has any free time, he might be interested in this volunteer research director’s job.

The intellectual rigour and inspiration for the committee was provided by Tom Cromwell and Mr. Justice Peter Seaton, then a senior member of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, our Chairman. Justice Seaton was as intelligent, generous and humble a man as you could hope to find. He was a progressive reformer who led by example. 

Thanks to Tom, our committee produced a study called “Court Reform in Canada,” which broke the ground for the subsequent seminal CBA report on the Systems of Civil Justice. Two of Tom’s important legacies from that early Court reform work were the establishment of the Canadian Forum for Civil Justice, which collects and disseminates the best ideas on court reform across Canada… and the concept of proportionality. 

Many of the groundbreaking ideas from those court reform studies, including proportionality and alternate dispute resolution now form the basis for our Québec Code of Civil Procedure. Tom and Mr. Justice Seaton were pioneers in the late 1980s for Canadian Court Reform.

For me as I suspect for many of you, the example of public service was set by our parents. Both my father and mother served in the Canadian Armed Forces in the Second World War. 

Public service was not something that was required in my family; it was simply something that you did. 

At 30 years old, my father as the navigator, was the oldest member of his 20- something bomber crew. They would eat supper at midnight and then load into a freezing Lancaster bomber. Working at a miniscule table just down from the pilots, it was my father’s job, to direct their plane into the bomber stream of hundreds of similar bombers that brought the war to Germany, and then if they were lucky, navigate them back to England. 

No sacrifice that I make in my job ever matches my father’s. “Quand on se compare, on se console”.
My mother was the first woman in Ottawa to become a lieutenant in the newly formed Canadian Royal Women’s Naval Service. My mother graduated from Queen’s Arts’36. After working in naval ship building, she was sent to work for the so-called British Passport Office at Rockefeller Center in New York City, with other Canadian women officers. She worked in one of the largest intelligence operations of its kind at the time, headed by Canadian Sir William Stephenson, the man called Intrepid, and Churchill’s chief of intelligence operations in the western hemisphere.

My parents’ generation gave to the service of their fellow citizens so that we could benefit from the peace and prosperity we have today. It is my sincere hope that, as the new generations of Queen’s Law graduates here present, you will be able to carry forward that important legacy by your own public service to ensure that Canada remains a beacon for respect for the rule of law and justice for all. 

Les citoyens canadiens me rémunèrent maintenant pour être au service des justiciables  tous les jours. Faire mon travail de la façon dont je voudrais qu’il soit fait si j'étais un justiciable prend tout mon temps. 

Le service à la population nous permet de développer des amitiés durables avec nos pairs et un grand sentiment d'accomplissement. Si c'est cela que vous voulez, alors le service à la population n’est jamais une corvée.