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Four lawyers named in Order of Canada honours

|Written By Gail J. Cohen

On Dec. 30, Governor General David Johnston announced 54 new appointments to the Order of Canada. The new appointees include 12 Officers (O.C.), and 42 Members (C.M.). Four esteemed members of the legal profession are included.

Officers of order of Canada

The Honourable René Dussault, a former judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal who is now counsel with the Quebec City office of Heenan Blaikie, was elevated to the level of Officer of the Order of Canada "for his contributions to the advancement of law and the promotion of equality, as a jurist, professor and senior public servant." He has held various positions as an adviser, and later as a director, in the public service, for the Ministry of Federal-Provincial Affairs, the Quebec Commission of Inquiry on Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Social Affairs, among others. He was the founding president of the Office des professions du Québec and has also been a Deputy Minister of Justice of Québec. Amongst his important accomplishments,he co-chaired the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples from 1991 to 1996.

Harry Walsh
Harry Walsh

Harry Walsh, who is now 97, was elevated to the rank of Officer of the Order of Canada "for his dedication to criminal law in Canada for more than 70 years, and for his advocacy against the use of capital punishment." The 97-year-old Winnipeg lawyer, who is still at work every day, led the fight in 1975 to abolish the death penalty. That year, he succeeded in having a resolution for abolition passed by the Canadian Bar Association. In 1976, Parliament abolished capital punishment.

Paul Copeland
Paul Copeland

Toronto lawyer and activist Paul D. Copeland was named a Member of the Order of Canada "for his contributions as an advocate for human rights and social justice." He is cited for  for his human rights activism in Burma and with Project Ploughshares, The Group of 78, Peace Brigades International, and Canadian Seniors for Social Responsibility. He is a practising criminal lawyer, co-founder of the Law Union of Ontario, a former co-president of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, and a life bencher  of the Law Society of Upper Canada

Beth Symes
Beth Symes

Beth Symes of Toronto was also named as a Member of the Order of Canada "for her contributions as a champion of women's rights in the legal profession." She is one of the founding members of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and served on its National Legal Committee. Shge was awarded the Law Society of Upper Canada Medal in 1996 and was the Gordon F. Henderson Lecturer in Human Rights in 2003. She is also a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada. She practises administrative law and civil litigation in the areas of equality rights, professional regulation, labour and employment law and human rights with her firm Symes and Street.

The appointments are made on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada, which is chaired by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. All 54 recipients will be invited to a ceremony to receive their awards later this year.

The full list of recipients is available here.


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