Osgoode grad Dubin was ‘a complete man of the law’

A shrewd and ethical lawyer whose recommendations cleaned up amateur sport in Canada and set an anti-doping standard for the world, Osgoode graduate and York Honorary Doctor of Laws Charles Dubin (BARR ’44) was revered for his persuasive technique, his dedication to professional standards and his ability to hone in on the nut of a legal problem and present it simply and lucidly, wrote The Globe and Mail Oct. 28 in an obituary. One judge simply called him "a complete man of the law."

"He had a tremendous effect on the justice system in Ontario by virtue of his leadership, his strength as a lawyer, his interest in access to justice and his support of legal aid," said Justice Robert Armstrong of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

"This is very sad," said former chief justice and York Chancellor Roy McMurtry. "Charlie Dubin was a very, very important and significant figure in the legal profession for so many years and a long-time friend of mine. He contributed so much as a lawyer and a jurist in taking on a number of important royal commissions," said McMurtry, who succeeded Dubin as chief justice of Ontario. "He brought a civility and a courtesy to the Court of Appeal that was badly needed. He left a legacy of excellence which is important in any profession, and he was good fun to be with."

Dubin became associate chief justice of Ontario in 1987, and chief justice three years later. But he is best known for his one-man Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Use of Drugs and Banned Practices Intended to Increase Athletic Performance. Twenty years later, the recommendations of the Dubin Inquiry still stand and have been implemented in the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Charles Leonard Dubin was born in Hamilton, Ont., on April 4, 1921. He died of bacterial pneumonia in Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto on Oct. 27, 2008. He was 87. Predeceased by his wife, Anne, and by his brother, he is survived by two nieces, a nephew and his extended family. Funeral services are planned for Wednesday at 1:30pm at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.

  • There were many successes in the life of Charles Dubin, who saved more than a dozen convicted murderers from likely death. The former Ontario chief justice became a national figure after heading the federal inquiry into drug use in amateur sport following the 1988 Olympics, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 28.

Dubin, 87, died yesterday in Toronto of pneumonia. He had been in failing health for the past two years and despondent over the death of his wife, Anne Dubin, [a former member and honorary member of York’s Board of Governors] who passed away last year following surgery. They had been married 55 years.

While his friends once told the Star Dubin literally could not change a light bulb, he did have the uncanny ability to simplify highly complex legal issues and capture a court’s attention with what Justice Robert Armstrong of the Ontario Court of Appeal called his "perfect courtroom voice" – clear and booming – which may have been honed in an earlier career as an emcee.

York policy change reflects growing diversity

York University has decided to end a 34-year practice of not scheduling classes on Jewish holidays in part to reflect the growing diversity at the booming Toronto campus, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 28.

It’s believed to have been the only public university in North America to close down campus-wide for the Jewish holidays each fall: two days of Rosh Hashanah and one day for Yom Kippur.

York officials say they were not reacting to an Ontario Human Rights Commission investigation of a complaint by a history professor that the practice is unfair to students of other faiths who do not get the same consideration on religious holidays.

"The answer is no, we didn’t make the change because of the complaint – but the change does in part reflect the reality of the diversity of our students," said Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations. "The reality was, when the policy was designed, a lot of students and faculty members celebrated those dates," Bilyk explained.

The Star said York adopted the practice in 1974 as a way to respect religious freedom for those whose holy days were not enshrined by law as are the Christian holidays of Christmas and Good Friday.

"But over the past 10 years, the diversity of our campus has grown and we have really learned how to handle accommodations of all kinds," said Bilyk, noting York allows any student whose religious holiday conflicts with a class or assignment to make alternative arrangements with their professor.

But to David Noble, professor in York’s Faculty of Arts who long has opposed the practice [of not scheduling classes on Jewish holidays] and who launched the Human Rights Commission complaint, the decision spells victory.

"We won, and I’d like to welcome York University to the multicultural society of Canada," Noble said.

Although York does not track the religion of its students, one recent study that matched the student body’s home postal codes with census information estimates that almost 6 per cent of its 51,000 students are Jewish, almost 5 per cent Muslim, almost 35 per cent Catholic, 22 per cent Protestant, almost 4 per cent Hindu, 2 per cent Buddhist and 2 per cent Sikh.

Len Rudner of the Canadian Jewish Congress said he understands why York has changed its practice. "The practice comes from a time when the demographics were different, and as the University has become much more diverse over the years, we’re in favour of a policy that meets the needs of all students – as long as it’s well-known by students and easy to use," said Rudner.

York scouts search far and wide for football talent

The final game of Sudbury’s Thursday Night Lights football series brought to town three scouts from the York University football program, wrote columnist Scott Haddow in The Sudbury Star Oct. 28. Toward the end of the game, I asked them if they saw anything they liked. They responded with a resounding yes. Further, they saw a lot they liked. It will be interesting to see if any players end up being recruited by York for 2009.

New faces join community board

Newly appointed to the Toronto Star’s Community Editorial Board, Tanna Brodbar (MA ’06) is a marketing professional currently employed by a major Canadian bank, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 28 in a story about new board members. American-born, she completed an MA in humanities in York University’s Faculty of Arts. She believes in the Jewish tenet of social justice and is committed to tikkun olam (repairing the world).

Vancouver paper cites York prof’s study of minorities 

Living in a small town offers many advantages over big-city life, including the obvious ones of lower house prices, lighter traffic and relatively less crime of the sort that plagues large metropolitan areas, wrote The Vancouver Sun Oct. 28 in an editorial.

A new study suggests another positive, a surprising one for those who buy into the derogatory depiction of rural life. Visible minorities report that there is less ethnic and cultural tension in small towns than in big cities.

The study by researchers Valerie Preston, professor in York University’s Faculty of Arts and director of the Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS), and Brian Ray of the University of Ottawa, found that 46 per cent of visible minorities in big cities felt racially related discomfort, compared with 40 per cent of visible minorities living in communities of 10,000 people or fewer.

Opponents of wind farms are often misled, says York prof

Jose Etcheverry, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Environment Studies, said some critics are being "misled" about wind farms and don’t realize the benefits: "Renewable energy industries could generate thousands and thousands of jobs," he told the Toronto Star Oct. 28 in a story about a proposed wind farm offshore from the Scarborough Bluffs.

Corporate law is becoming more democratic

In addition to the considerable pressures created by the current financial sector crisis, a number of forces are working to dramatically democratize corporate governance, wrote Edward Waitzer, Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney Chair in Corporate Governance at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business at York, in The Lawyers Weekly, Oct. 10.

Given the obvious constraints on national and provincial governance in global markets and the impact of information and communications technologies, many have concluded that markets themselves may be more susceptible to democratic action than governments.

These developments are related and couldn’t be more timely. The need for more effective communication between corporate boards and management with stakeholders has become critical, not just in the face of the current market crisis but, more fundamentally, to ensure that corporations appreciate the concerns of an increasingly heterogeneous shareholder and stakeholder body, enabling them to build support for long-term plans and ultimately, informing the manner in which corporate law will evolve.

SCC must define directors’ duties during takeovers

The Supreme Court of Canada’s relatively rare interjection into the heart of corporate law is timely, wrote Peer Zumbansen, Canada Research Chair in the Transnational and Comparative Law of Corporate Governance in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in The Lawyers Weekly Oct. 10 in an article about the Court’s decision on the buyout of BCE Inc. The corporation has once again become an intensely contested institution in our economy, wrote Zumbansen.

As the corporation – in particular the large, listed corporation with substantive roles in infrastructure – escapes traditional confinements of a merely local and “private” actor, it would seem naive to reduce its complexity by conceiving of it as either a “private” contractual arrangement or an explicitly “political” actor. The challenge is that corporate law has not had many chances to fully internalize the financialization that has transformed corporate reality (and may now be too late), nor to address the transnationalization of its subject.

The challenge remains to indentify frameworks that capture the important elements of both and to articulate coherent policy options on that basis.