258 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 2 MARCH 2021
You have such a kindly face and manner that should I ever have the misfortune
to be the accused, I hope I draw you as judge!
Few judges enjoy such enthusiastic feedback. Counsel might sometimes
have feared him, but he always had their respect. His dry British wit and
friendly smile were often on display.
Following the merger of the superior courts in the province on July 1,
1990, Michael sat as a justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. He
was pleased to now have the slightly expanded jurisdiction to sit on criminal
His obvious enthusiasm for the job never wavered over his 28 years on
the bench. He relished the intellectual challenge of wrestling with the new
law relating to the division of matrimonial property under the 1978 Family
Relations Act, accused persons’ rights under the newly promulgated Charter
of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 and Canadian families’ entirely new landscape
for divorce and separation under the Divorce Act of 1985. The law was
undergoing huge change, which in turn reflected society’s own massive
changes. This was fuel for Michael’s great appetite for intellectual stimulation
and his love of the law.
Throughout his distinguished career, he remained a loving, involved
father of his four children. No doubt determined to avoid re-creating his
own childhood experience, he insisted on the family gathering each night
for dinner. Most evenings he reminded all present that “dinner is a ceremony”.
As soon as the four children were old enough, dinner time involved
everyone reporting on the day’s events or school or sports. He often contributed
by recounting the issues that had arisen in an interesting court
case. While anonymized, the cases were vehicles for wide-ranging discussions
of the issues involved and the remedies available or not. Was the outcome
fair and just? Was the punishment appropriate? What would you have
done? Everyone was expected to join in.
Then came his famous declaration: “Now, QUESTIONS!!!!” and he proceeded
to pose a series of precise quiz questions designed to foster a love of
competition and learning. This ritual survived the family dinner table to
find Michael posing the same QUESTIONS quiz to his grandchildren round
the dinner table at Hood Point. Since some questions appeared again and
again, attention could guarantee success in future rounds. Underlying this
parental modus operandi was the clear message: be intellectually curious
and there are no limits to what you can accomplish. Everyone was held to
a high standard.
Always on the search for ideas and intellectual stimulation, Michael read
voraciously. He was a member of at least two book clubs, as well as the