590 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 4 JULY 2018
And so we turn to the case of Peter D. Whyte, appointed to the Provincial
Court of British Columbia on January 3, 2018 and assigned to sit in Williams
Lake. Does he possess this critical attribute?
The historical record is cause for optimism.
Born in Victoria in 1968, Peter was a child of immigrants. His formative
years were spent in a West Vancouver household which was never quite
stereotypically Canadian, yet was not stereotypically anything else either.
He did not learn to play hockey, but instead became a tennis ace. He was
exposed early to the delights and the burdens of excruciatingly correct English
grammar which, as we will discuss below, has found its way into his formal
writing style. Oh, the things up with which he had to put!2 Does one yet
detect a vestigial British lilt in his occasional word? Those who appear
before him will have to decide.
Law school did not beckon early. Peter graduated from UBC in 1991 with
a B.A. in psychology. He then began his real education working out of
Chicago as a chapter services consultant for the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity,
a position which saw him take to the roads of the northeastern United
States, visiting fraternity houses in small and obscure American college
towns to address the peculiar issues which sometimes arise in these settings.
After a few more years of employment in Vancouver, notably (for our
developing theme) with the St. Leonard’s Youth and Family Services, Peter
began work on a master’s degree in social work at Wilfrid Laurier University
in Waterloo, which he completed in 1997.
Even before graduation, he started work as a child protection social
worker with what was then the Ministry for Children and Families, based in
Burnaby and New Westminster. Child protection work is often a first job for
social workers. Peter was assigned to various intake and assessment teams,
which made him a first responder to allegations of abuse or neglect of children.
Occasionally escorted by the police, he would quickly have to assess
a difficult and emotion-drenched situation and make the decision in the
best interest of our society’s most vulnerable members. It was important
and fulfilling work, but not long-term work.
His social work interests began to point toward the legal field. In 1999 he
started work with the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission – Vancouver
Community Services Clinic. In this position he was tasked with the assessment,
treatment and case management of mentally ill criminal offenders,
particularly with respect to bail, probation and NCRMD designations.
It was his introduction to the seriously mentally ill. He worked with
many people who had committed horrific crimes while operating under
psychoses or delusions. Some of his work with an inter-ministerial street-