Countdown to Hutch: Get ready to vote

He’s enthusiastic, not afraid to speak his mind and regularly refers to himself as being an "evil deity".  Allan Hutchinson, a lively and colourful professor of law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, is ready to storm the competition on Saturday, Feb. 10, as one of 10 finalists in TV Ontario’s 2007 Best Lecturer Competition.

On Jan. 13, the TV Ontario program Big Ideas began airing the lectures given by the finalists. Tune in to the program on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 4pm, to catch a broadcast of Hutchinson in action as he delivers a compelling lecture that challenges the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Viewers who can’t tune in on Saturday can catch a rebroadcast on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 4pm.) Following the Saturday lecture, starting at 5:45pm and continuing until Monday, Feb. 12 at noon, the television audience can rate Hutchinson’s lecture and vote for their favourite lecturer online. The winning lecturer’s university will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship from TD Meloche Monnex.

Left: Allan Hutchinson. Photo by Chris Kurata.

Hutchinson, or "Hutch" as he is best known, is one of 155 professors nominated by students in Ontario for the popular TVO Best Lecturer Competition. The list, which included some of Canada’s top academics, was cut to 71 professors and then to 30. The final list of 10 was chosen by an independent panel of judges –Maclean’s magazine managing editor Tony Keller, novelist Camilla Gibb and Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente. Finalists were chosen for their ability to present complicated ideas or concepts with clarity, enthusiasm and authority.

Hutch promises to deliver a memorable experience on Feb. 10. "My lecture challenges the received wisdom that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is obviously a good thing. I contend that the first 25 years of the Charter have not been an unmitigated success and that it fails in a number of regards," says Hutchinson.

"In particular, the substance of many of its decisions has tended to favour established interests – it has not worked to the advantage of the disadvantaged and most-needy in our society. Also, Charter litigation has tended to sap further the democratic energies and resources of Canadians and reinforced rule by elite groups. Accordingly, while the Charter is not all bad, it is clearly not all good as many assume or contend."

A member of Osgoode Hall Law School’s faculty since 1982, Hutch teaches tort law, constitutional law, jurisprudence and civil procedure. With flair reminiscent of a Shakespearean actor, he turns each lecture into theatre – effectively engaging his students while at the same time delivering complex legal material in dynamic, memorable lectures.

"Students most often remember Professor Hutchinson’s first Tort Law class, where he typically storms in wearing a black robe, declaring that he is the ‘Evil Deity’; what follows is a lively discussion," commented one student.

Another says, "Professor Hutchinson presents his ideas very clearly and enthusiastically, and with a finesse and rhythm that mimics Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter."

For more information about the competition, visit the TVO Best Lecturer Web site. To find out why TVO has saved the best for last, view a video clip of Hutch in action, which is available on the site or by clicking here.

See the July 14, 2006 issue of YFile for a profile of Hutchinson.