The York University Board of Governors yesterday announced the appointment of Peter deCarteret Cory, former Canadian Supreme Court justice and distinguished international jurist, as 11th chancellor of York University.
Cory will succeed popular outgoing Chancellor Avie Bennett, chairman of McClelland & Stewart Ltd. and chairman of the Historica Foundation of Canada, who has served as York’s chancellor since 1998.
Right: Peter deCarteret Cory
"Peter Cory has dedicated his lifetime to breaking new ground in the pursuit of justice at home and abroad and we are simply delighted to welcome him to York as our new chancellor," said Lorna Marsden, president and vice-chancellor. "Justice Cory is one of Canada’s most respected jurists, highly regarded for his courage, empathy and intellectual rigour. He is celebrated for his principled legal decisions and commitment to the rights of youth, minorities and the disadvantaged. He is the ideal choice to inspire our students to explore new ideas and global concerns, empowered by the courage of their convictions."
Born in Windsor, Ontario, Peter Cory joined the RCAF as a teenager in World War II, trained as a pilot and flew 22 bomber missions. He studied at Osgoode Hall Law School, which later affiliated with York University, and was called to the bar in 1950. He practised litigation in Toronto, was appointed as Queen’s Counsel and elected as a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada. He then rose through the ranks of the judiciary in Ontario. Recognizing the importance of an accessible legal system, he mastered French in order to hear cases in both official languages. Appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1989, he wrote reasons in numerous landmark judgments helping to define the evolution of Canadian law and jurisprudence.
Many of the most significant cases he participated in while serving on the Supreme Court involved interpretation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and have encompassed criminal, family, constitutional, commercial, labour, administrative and common law. In 1997, Cory received an honorary doctor of laws degree from York University.
His contributions to the law were analyzed and celebrated with a published symposium in his honour at his alma mater, Osgoode Hall Law School.
"I look forward to working closely with members of the York community to support their commitment to academic excellence and to the ideals of social justice, academic freedom and human rights," said Chancellor-designate Cory. "York is a dynamic, young university whose impact reaches beyond Canada’s borders and I am convinced the best is yet to come."
Cory is highly sought-after by governments and international leaders for his legal and public policy expertise. In 2002, he was appointed commissioner by the governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to investigate six controversial murder cases involving alleged collusion by security forces in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republican Army. Following intense interest from parties involved in the peace process, Cory last October reported his findings to the Irish and United Kingdom governments, urging judicial inquiries into several of the cases.
In recognition of his legal contribution and record of public service, Cory was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2002. The new chancellor-designate will be officially installed this spring.