Chancellor’s portrait unveiled

A striking portrait of the Chancellor of York University, Peter Cory (right), was unveiled Wednesday at a ceremony in the office of Patrick Monahan, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School.

Painted by Canadian artist Martina Shapiro, the portrait titled “Build the Case” will hang in the law school. It was commissioned by the American and Canadian Colleges of Construction Lawyers to celebrate the career and dedication to service of Cory during his career as a justice on the Supreme Court of Canada and his role in supporting education. The dedication on the portrait reads: “Presented to the Honourable Peter Cory in appreciation of his keynote address to the first joint conference of the American-Canadian Colleges of Construction Lawyers, Coral Gables, Florida, February 2004”.

The influences of building knowledge, construction and justice are all represented in the vibrant portrait. Painted in an impressionistic fashion, it features the likeness of a bewigged Cory presented against a background of construction equipment. In front of Cory rests a stack of legal texts. “I think it is very clever,” said Cory.

The painting was unveiled by Cory and Monahan, with the assistance of representatives of the Construction Law Education Association of Canada. Stanley Naftolin, of the firm Goldman, Sloan, Nash & Haber LLP and Harvey Kirsh of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP represented the association and Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation, attended the ceremony.

Right: From left, Patrick Monahan, Harvey Kirsch, Peter Cory, Paul Marcus and Stanley Naftolin

“It has been a great privilege for York University to have Justice Cory as our chancellor,” said Monahan in his opening remarks. “He brings his dignity, his sense of integrity and fairness to this University and to Osgoode Hall Law School. It is our great pleasure to host this event today and to receive this portrait that will hang in the law school as a tribute to you, to your ongoing work and your commitment to law and to justice.”

Monahan thanked the association. “The legal profession recognize the importance of serving the public interest and that includes education, importing knowledge and enhancing our understanding of law and its role in society, especially business law,” said Monahan. “This is a recognition of your public spiritedness and your generosity and we are very pleased that you have chosen to honour Justice Cory in this way. Thank you to you and your colleagues.”

“The role of chancellor at a university is a very striking and important role,” said Marcus. “We are honoured to have Justice Cory serve the University as its chancellor. You may also not know that he shakes about 8,000 hands in addition to conferring the honorary degrees.”

Both Kirsh and Naftolin spoke of their regard for Cory and all that he has accomplished over the course of his career. Marcus thanked Kirsh and Naftolin and the association for their support of the University. “You have truly helped us ‘build the case’ for York,” said Marcus.

The event offered an opportunity for Cory an opportunity to hare some private reflections on his career with those present.  “I feel so fortunate to live in Canada,” said Cory. “I think this gesture is truly wonderful and I am very touched and grateful.”

More about Chancellor Peter Cory

Born in Windsor, Ontario, 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 1999, the year of his retirement from the Supreme Court, 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.

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 reported his findings in the fall of 2003 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.