On what was described as "an historic day for the administration of justice and law reform in Ontario," the new Law Commission of Ontario was officially launched at a plaque presentation ceremony at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School on Sept. 7.
"I’m very proud to stand here today to announce the Law Commission is back and better than ever," enthused Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant (LLB ’92). "The new Law Commission is a victory for all Ontarians," he said. "As an independent think-tank comprised of some of the brightest legal minds in the province, the commission’s work will serve as a catalyst for change and advancement in our evolving justice system."
|Above: Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant (left) and Patricia Hughes, executive director of the new Law Commission of Ontario, unveil a plaque at the official launch on Sept. 7|
Bryant also introduced Patricia Hughes (LLB ’82) as the Law Commission’s first executive director. Hughes, who was dean of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law from 2001 to 2006, will serve a four-year term.
"I’m thrilled and excited to be coming back to Osgoode and York," said Hughes, who most recently served as Alberta’s executive director of education and scholar-in-residence at Bennett Jones LLP in Calgary.
"I am looking forward, immensely, to getting the LCO off the ground and to producing results," said Hughes. "There has never been any question in my own mind of the need to make the legal system more accessible, whether financially or in other ways, and this will be a major priority for us. It is not the only issue that the commission will address, but it is a crucial one."
Above: Attending the opening were, from left: W.A. Derry Millar, Chair, finance & audit committee, Law Society of Upper Canada and partner, WeirFoulds LLP; Larry Banack, Chair, Law Foundation of Ontario and partner, Koskie Minsky LLP; Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant; Commission Executive Director Patricia Hughes; Commission Board of Governors Chair, Dean Patrick Monahan; and York University President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri
The Law Commission of Ontario, first announced by the Ontario government in November 2006, is a partnership among the deans of Ontario’s six law schools, the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General and the Law Foundation of Ontario. Its role is to recommend law reforms to improve the administration of Ontario’s justice system and enhance access to justice.
The commission’s offices will be housed temporarily in the Computer Methods Building on York’s Keele campus. It will then move to Osgoode once the law school has completed a renovation and expansion.
Bryant thanked all of the commission’s partners for their leadership and support "in making this dream a reality" and in particular he saluted Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan, who is also the Chair of the Board of the Governors of the Law Commission of Ontario, for "stepping up with a road map that allowed all of us to come together".
Left: Patricia Hughes
Monahan reminded everyone gathered that the province had an independent institution – the Ontario Law Reform Commission – promoting law reform in the province for more than 30 years, but unfortunately it was wound up in 1996. "In the tradition of two great attorneys general, Roy McMurtry [LLB ’58] and the late Ian Scott [LLB ’59], and through the vision and commitment of Attorney General Michael Bryant, we are here today at the rebirth of an independent law commission in Ontario," said Monahan.
York University President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri also had high praise for the new Law Commission as a vehicle for change and reform.
"York is very proud to be involved and associated with the formation of this important legal body, not only for its vital work, but the impact it will have on legal education and research in the province and beyond," said Shoukri.
To view the full launch ceremony for the new Law Commission of Ontario, play video.