THE ADVOCATE 237
VOL. 78 PART 2 MARCH 2020
Q: You’ve been known to ask the court clerk to turn the recording system
off (once proceedings were over) and chat with counsel. Why did you
A: Let me emphasize at the start that I never did that during a hearing, but
only after chambers was done, and it was never to discuss any of the
matters I had heard. I did it to read the pulse of the profession wherever
I was at that point. Sometimes I asked them how they thought new
developments were going, such as JCCs, TMCs and CPCs, or the thennew
Family Law Act. Over the years I had dealt with the bankruptcies
of a number of lawyers, so I might ask how things were going in the
local bar. The input I got was always helpful and valuable.
Q: Looking back on your career, is there anything you are particularly
A: I consider myself unbelievably lucky to be involved in a profession
where the vast majority of people were trying to do a good job and do
the right thing. Lawyers don’t always get credit for that. Also, I never
forgot what it is like to be a lawyer. The legal bill reviews involved in registrar’s
work were a constant reminder of that.
When I was a young lawyer there were judges who were very harsh and
intimidating with counsel, and I vowed not to be that kind of judge. Master
Ken Doolan once reminded me that with articling students, even
appearing in court to speak to a consent order can be a big deal, and for
that reason I often tried to take them off script with a few softball-type
questions about the application to help them become a bit more comfortable
in the courtroom. I know there were good lawyers who were
dissuaded from doing court work or becoming barristers after unfortunate
early experiences, and I didn’t want that to happen.
Finally, I never had a sick day as a master.
Q: What lessons do you think you have learned from your 42 years in law?
A: If I had to boil it down to one line, I guess I’d say “the human species
has an infinite capacity for rationalization.” That seems to explain why
people do such demonstrably wrong things, or why they often disregard
or breach our orders. They seem to feel that we don’t understand their
point of view, but of course usually we do understand.
I seldom had any illusions about the power or authority of my position
or the orders I made. I have long said that, in family law in particular,
I’d be surprised if fifty per cent of my orders were followed. That’s the
way it is. But I recall retired master Alan Donaldson’s retirement
speech in which he said that, on reflection, he thought that maybe, just