Ontario’s top judge spoke of the importance of high ethical standards and praised his long-time mentor during the Call to the Bar ceremony yesterday morning at Roy Thomson Hall (RTH).
The Honourable Justice Warren K. Winkler, Chief Justice of Ontario, was granted a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by the Law Society at the ceremony, the first of three Toronto calls this week. He then delivered the customary keynote address to the 329 new calls in attendance.
“I can tell you that a lawyer without high ethical standards is an empty vessel, a mere technician, whose relationship to the client amounts to nothing other than a casual, superficial commercial transaction,” Justice Winkler said. “Were it not for the strict ethical code by which lawyers are required to conduct themselves, they would have no right to command a monopoly over the services they render in the practice of law. Nor would they enjoy the privilege of self-regulation.”
Justice Winkler then acknowledged the presence of The Honourable Robert Stanley Montgomery. Q.C., his mentor since Justice Winkler joined his first firm (where Montgomery was a senior partner). He told of his long association with “Monty,” and then passed on some advice: “Time doesn’t permit me to exhaust the list of what my mentor imparted to me,” Justice Winkler said. “Three short, simple examples will serve to illustrate the type of values Monty sought to instill in me. He said: ‘Don’t exaggerate’; ‘Don’t mislead the court’; ‘Don’t take advantage of people.’”
The guests at the this morning’s call (also at RTH) Was Diana Lynn Fuller, a former Crown attorney and legal trailblazer. Former Law Society Treasurer Gavin MacKenzie will be honoured at the third Toronto call, later this afternoon. The Honourable Thomas A. Cromwell of the Supreme Court of Canada and former lay bencher and community champion Abdulrahim Ali Chahbar were granted honourary doctorates at the Ottawa and London calls, respectively.