Former Ontario attorney general Ian Scott held a York honorary degree

Former Ontario attorney general Ian Scott, who was awarded a York honorary degree in 1997, has died from complications from a stroke he suffered over a decade ago. He died at his Toronto home early Tuesday morning at the age of 72.

Right: Ian Scott

Scott, a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School (LLB ‘59) and later a lecturer there, was best known for his service as the attorney general of Ontario from 1985 to 1990. He was also known as one of Canada’s leading barristers. First elected to the Ontario legislature in 1985, Scott represented the downtown Toronto riding of St. George-St. David until his retirement from politics in 1990. While in cabinet, Scott had a number of key posts including attorney general and minister responsible for native affairs. During the early years of the Rae administration, Scott served as the Opposition critic for intergovernmental affairs and native affairs.

As attorney general, Scott led the way on important reforms, including the introduction of the first public sector pay equity legislation in North America, and the comprehensive reform of the Ontario court system. He steered the government’s initiative to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and implemented a new process around provincial judicial appointments designed to ensure that the most highly qualified candidates be appointed to the bench.

Scott held the Bora Laskin Chair in Public Law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School from 1991 to 1992, served as an instructor for several years in the law school’s annual Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop, and lent his expertise to several other Ontario university law schools. Before entering the legislature, Scott practised law with Cameron, Brewin & Scott, which merged into Gowling, Strathy, Henderson, to which he returned after retiring from the legislature. In his distinguished career at the bar, Scott argued cases in every level of court in the country. He also served as counsel during important public inquiries and has provided leadership in a wide range of legal and community organizations.

In 1994, Scott suffered a crippling stroke. In his recovery, he demonstrated the same personal strength that enabled him to achieve so much on behalf of others throughout his distinguished career in law and politics. He was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in October 1994 and was invested in January  1995. In May 1997,  York University bestowed an honorary doctor of laws degree on Scott.

On Nov. 14, 2005, Scott was on hand at Toronto’s National Club to celebrate the launch of a new internship program at Osgoode Hall Law School. The Honourable Ian Scott Public Interest Internship at Osgoode funds law students studying at Osgoode who are working, paid or underpaid, at public interest organizations for the summer The program is supported by generous donations from two law firms where Scott once practised.

A funeral mass will take place at St. Michael’s Cathedral, 200 Church Street (at the corner of Shuter and Bond Streets), Toronto, on Friday, Oct. 13, at 10:30am. A private internment will follow the mass. In lieu of flowers, donations to The Honourable Ian Scott Public Interest Internship at Osgoode would be appreciated by his family and his wide circle of friends and colleagues.