602 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 4 JULY 2019
was the best legal advisor he had ever worked with. As Alan Kessel, the current
legal advisor to what is now Global Affairs, wrote: “Those of us who
grew up as lawyers either under his tutelage or during the many encounters
with him after his time in Ottawa will miss him dearly. Maurice’s advice
and insight guided our work.”
Maurice saw the lawyers in Foreign Affairs as part of a broader international
law community, and he engaged with academics on issues concerning
the department in a way that other legal advisors had been reluctant to
do. Some of my early work in the field of international law involved providing,
at Maurice’s request, analyses of the work of the United Nations International
Law Commission for the Legal Bureau in the Department of
External Affairs. In involving me in this way, Maurice helped further my
own career in international law.
Maurice filled the role of legal advisor with great accomplishment. He
understood that, in the words of one of his predecessors, Allan Beesley, the
role of the legal advisor to Foreign Affairs is to advance Canada’s interests
in accordance with international law. But he was perhaps different from
other legal advisors. His interest was in law certainly, but also in society and
the world more generally, and this readiness to look beyond Canada and to
the world characterized his career both in the department and subsequently.
This predilection started early, probably before he left Vancouver,
and it quickly manifested itself in his work.
In 1955, the year before he joined the Department of External Affairs,
Maurice attended the international seminar of the World University Service
in Japan. There he met his future wife Tama and together they retained a
lifelong interest in Asia and its cultures. In this interest in Asia and the
world, Maurice and Tama were a team. Maurice was posted to Beijing and
later became commissioner for Hong Kong. He also served in Indochina
and Malaysia. This grounded him for the position he would later hold, that
of assistant undersecretary for Asia and the Pacific in the Department of
A subsequent interview of Maurice and Tama by Knowledge Network
described their house in Vancouver as being “filled with an eclectic collection
of artwork”, often gathered from their time in these postings abroad.
Knowledge Network also paid tribute to the Copithornes’ shared view that
home, then Vancouver, had to be viewed within a broader global picture.
After Maurice retired from Foreign Affairs, he and Tama moved back to
Vancouver. There, he became associate counsel at Ladner Downs and began
teaching international law at the UBC law school and later at Royal Roads.
He brought back to practice and to teaching the vast experience he had