The legal and financial communities are mourning the passing of a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in the profession.
John Mountain died suddenly Monday morning at the age of 62 surrounded by family including his spouse of 27 years, Greg, whom he married in 2003. He had recently been diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Lino Cambone, vice president and deputy general counsel, wealth management, legal at BMO Financial, knew Mountain well and had learned only last week that his friend of 20 years was sick.
“I was totally shocked and gutted by this; he is gone in such a short period of time,” says Cambone. “We had lunch planned for next month.”
Dorothy Quann, former general counsel of Xerox Canada, said Mountain was a “man with a big [last] name and a big heart” and “a great sense of personal style with his signature bow ties.”
“He leaves an important legacy in the LGBTQ community for his leadership and courage in celebrating diversity — he really believed in making the world a better place,” said Quann.
In 2014, Mountain received the Canadian General Counsel Award for social responsibility when he was general counsel at NEI Investments, presented to him by Simon Fish, general counsel at BMO Financial.
“I am deeply saddened by the sudden loss of John Mountain. John was a highly regarded lawyer and business leader. In 2014, I was delighted to present John with the CGCA’s ESG and social responsibility award. Having worked closely with John on Legal Leaders for Diversity, I think he would have considered his advocacy to promote inclusion and equitable treatment within the legal profession some of his most important work. He will be dearly missed,” Simon Fish, general counsel, BMO Financial Group, said in an emailed statement Monday.
Cambone said Mountain is probably best known for being a “fierce and tireless” champion of human rights and for his contribution to the regulatory landscape in Canada.
“He brought the idea of diversity and inclusion not only in the legal profession but to the investment community. That was really near and dear to his heart. He probably would have wanted his contributions to diversity and inclusion to be the hallmark of his life and his career,” says Cambone, who met Mountain in 1997 when Mountain was heading up regulatory affairs at the Investment Funds Institute of Canada, where he worked for seven years before moving to NEI Investments.
“I met him at IFIC and we were on a few committees together and I got to know him socially as well and was just an all-around good guy,” says Cambone. “We had great and numerous conversations over the years about things like investor protection and the growth of the fund industry and making sure you can accomplish both — you can have investor protection and still have a thriving industry. John got that and had a very practical approach to things.”
In 2016, Mountain returned to the OSC, where he had also worked from 1989 to 1996 as deputy director of registration and senior legal counsel.
“He was only in that role a short time, but I think he would have done a lot of good for the regulatory environment in Canada,” says Cambone. “We are missing a real leader today.”
Mountain loved to travel and in 2003 he and Greg took time off to do a trip around the world.
“John took a year off from IFIC and literally went around the world and called it followsummer,” recalls Cambone. “He was blogging about it at a time when no one really knew what blogging was.”
Mountain attended the University of Windsor Law School and was an associate at McMillan LLP for two years before moving to the OSC. He also attended the University of Western Ontario Richard Ivey School of Business, obtaining his MBA in 2003.
Donations in lieu of flowers should be directed to the John Mountain Law Scholarship. Please direct to Karen Momotiuk at Windsor Law firstname.lastname@example.org
An obituary indicates celebrations of life will be held in Toronto and St. Marys, Ont., later this summer.