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VOL. 76 PART 2 MARCH 2018
league with a broad expertise in the field of criminal law. He is also incredibly
modest and will no doubt appreciate the largely uncontroversial assessment
Mike was born in Montreal in 1966. His father Don was an engineer in
the pulp and paper industry, and his mother Janice a schoolteacher. Don’s
employment in the pulp industry eventually took the family west, and in
his early years Mike lived in several small towns in B.C. including Houston
and Quesnel. In 1972 the family finally settled in North Vancouver. Mike
attended Handsworth High School, graduating in 1984. As a young student
he far preferred playing sports (including soccer, baseball and basketball) to
applying himself in school, though he did excel in two areas: drama, which
prepared him well for his first career as a lawyer, and typing, which will
serve him equally well in his second career as a judge.
Mike obtained his B.A. in political science in 1988 from UBC and then
moved to Ontario to pursue his law degree at the University of Toronto.
Being born in Montreal, raised in Vancouver and schooled in Toronto would
undoubtedly have made for enviable political roots, but the pull of law was
too strong. Like many lawyers who grew up in the 70s, Mike had discovered
his love of the law watching Perry Mason reruns. Although he could not
have predicted he would one day become Perry’s nemesis, Hamilton
Burger, this prospect would likely have appealed to Mike. After all, the prosecutor
was no showboat like Perry and with the real murderer always hiding
among his own witnesses, he clearly had the more demanding job.
After law school Mike returned to B.C., where he was called to the bar in
1992. He began his legal career at the Department of Justice prosecuting
drug, tax and extradition cases. 1994 was a big year for Mike: he met his
future wife Tammy and got the job he had always wanted at the provincial
Crown in Vancouver. Mike was “in between jobs” when he and Tammy were
introduced by friends. Despite Mike having no job and no car when he nervously
first asked her out, she still agreed. They became engaged just over a
year later and their marriage has yielded two beautiful boys.
Like many Crown counsel in Vancouver, Mike began his career in the
“trenches” at 222 Main Street, managing a heavy caseload as a trial lawyer.
Lengthy stints at Main Street gave Mike a profound insight into issues of
poverty, mental illness and drug addiction. He was later assigned to tours
in North Vancouver, Burnaby and West Vancouver, and witnessed the closing
of the latter two courthouses. Eventually Mike progressed to more complex
files, prosecuting several dangerous offender and murder cases.
Throughout he was exposed to a wide variety of witnesses, offenders and
victims, and these experiences gave him a deep respect for people from different
cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.