2003-2004 Suzanne Costom
The Society was in wonderful shape when I began my tenure, as it had benefitted from a recent string of dynamic Presidents and energetic Executive Members. Their hard work, and the work of the 2003-2004 Executive, yielded yet another stellar year for the Society.
Our program was very well received and the dinner-meetings were so well-attended that we never ate upstairs, holding all 6 programs in the main dining room (with salmon and roast beef on the menu, of course!) Our first program, The Alan B. Gold Advocacy Lecture featured Me William Brock, and former Chief Justice of Québec Claude Bisson whose presentation was entitled “Arbitration and the Advocate: Different Forum, Same Role”. Our Henry Steinberg Memorial Lecture featured Society favourite Edward Greenspan, QC who shared with us the trials and tribulations of defending the outcasts of society. Our annual Human Rights Lecture featured Alan Borovoy, General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who delivered the human rights lecture and was the human rights honouree. Of note, is that Mr. Borovoy was introduced by his old friend (and best man) Irwin Cotler who travelled from Ottawa specifically to participate in the human rights program. The following day, the news of Mr. Cotler’s appointment to Prime Minister Paul Martin’s cabinet as Attorney General of Canada and Minister of Justice was made public. Mr. Cotler, of course, has known this news prior to his attendance at the Human Right Dinner.
Our first program of 2004 featured Calin Rovinescu, who discussed the challenges involved in restructuring Air Canada. His lecture, aptly entitled “The Restructuring of Air Canada – Redoing 60 Years in 6 Months” was enjoyed by all. Then, on April 29th, the Society highlighted one of its proudest moments as we honoured Justice Morris Fish, one of our own, on his appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada the previous year.
The “Evening Honoring Justice Morris Fish” was expertly chaired by Morton Bessner. There were over 200 people in attendance, including lawyers, judiciary and members of Justice Fish’s family. The honourable Yves-Marie Morissette, and Mes Raphael Schacter, Harvey Yarosky and Fred Kaufmann shared with us their personal feelings and observations – both comical and serious – of Justice Fish. Justice Fish himself also spoke and began his remarks by stating how nice it was to be “at home”. The night will forever stand out as one of the most memorable in Society history.
The year closed with a wonderful presentation by the Honourable Justice Pierrette Rayle, who discussed her journey from lawyer to Superior Court Judge, to Judge of the Court of Appeal. She was introduced by Lynne Kassie, former Battonier of Montreal, who served as the first female President of the Lord Reading Law Society in 1989-1990. While I was the 47th President of the Society I was in fact only the third woman to assume this role, following only Ms. Kassie and Sharon Druker who served in 1996-1997.
In addition to our regular program, the Society hosted its annual Continuing Legal Education seminar, on the topic of governance. We were treated to informative and insightful presentations by experts Me Norman Seinberg, of Ogilvy Renault, Edward Leschiutta, of Deloitte Touche as well as Dr. Margaret Graham and Dr. Edward Aronson of the Faculty of Management, McGill University.
Another highlight of the year was the organisation of the first ever Lord Reading Law Society Young Bar cocktail party. This event, designed to introduce young lawyers to all that the Society has to offer, is now an annual tradition. Also in an effort to make young members feel welcome, we began inviting the President of the Association du Jeune Barreau de Montréal to our dinner-meetings.
Another innovation during the 2003-2004 year was the publication of a Society handbook listing the names and coordinates of all paid-up members, as well as other Society information.
It was an active year for the Society, which retained its strong voice within the Montreal legal community. It was an honor to serve as President.