CSILLAG email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-03-12 published
A trailblazer in women's hockey
As a coach, he saw people first, athletes second and so took Canadian women's hockey to the pinnacle of the sport
By Ron CSILLAG Special▼ to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - Page R7
Toronto -- Think "hockey coach, " and you may be forgiven for conjuring images of a bug-eyed, borderline rage-oholic working a small wad of gum while berating his bench and screaming instructions to the ice.
That wasn't Dave McMASTER.
A fixture in Canadian women's hockey for 35 years, Mr. McMASTER was the polar opposite: A calm and calming influence who taught his players respect for their abilities and those of their opponents who saw people first and athletes second; who radiated a sheer love of the game; who hugged his players and meant it.
A trailblazer who boosted woman's hockey in this country before it was popular, or even seemly, Mr. McMASTER guided the Canadian women's team to a gold medal at the first women's world hockey championship in 1990 in Ottawa. Over one-million television viewers watched as Canada beat the U.S. 5-2 in the final. He also coached Team Canada at the first unofficial women's world tournament in 1987.
Through 22 seasons coaching the University of Toronto's Varsity (Lady) Blues, Mr. McMASTER won 12 Ontario university titles and compiled a record of 212-38-22.
"Everywhere there was hockey, Dave was there, said Fran RIDER, executive director of the Ontario Women's Hockey Association. "He was the lifeblood of women's hockey, very dedicated, not only to the game but to life skills. He cared about every player on every team. His enthusiasm and love of the game was catching."
At the time of his unexpected death of a heart attack this month in Toronto at the age of 62, he was still coaching three girls' teams, despite being officially retired as a schoolteacher and coach. One of them, the squad at Bishop Strachan School, had to leave for a tournament in Newfoundland just days after Mr. McMASTER died. Their coach's influence obviously sunk in: Despite being distraught at the news of his death, which sent shock waves through the world of women's hockey, the team won all seven of its games. That was after Bishop Strachan captured the Foster Hewitt Memorial Cup for the fifth consecutive year at the Air Canada Centre just three weeks before Mr. McMASTER's death.
"He gave players a sense of responsibility for their actions. He taught us to respect ourselves and others, but most important, he let us have fun, recalled Team Canada head coach Karen HUGHES, who also took over from Mr. McMASTER as coach at U of T, where she had played for him. "With Dave, it wasn't about winning and losing, but a love of the game and sharing and Friends. He encouraged players to go beyond their limits."
Some 800 Friends, loved ones and jersey-clad players crowded Grace Church-on-the-Hill in Toronto on Valentine's Day to celebrate a life that touched so many others.
David Carson McMASTER was born in Toronto to a homemaker and a lawyer who wanted a legal career for his son. At St. Andrew's College, the young Mr. McMASTER played football, cricket and hockey, and later, at Dalhousie University, "he was a born goaltender, remembered his lifelong best friend, Douglas ROWAN. " Mix, as he came to be called (as in Mixmaster), was not known as a particularly graceful player, as his many stitches and at least seven broken noses attested. He was an early proponent of face masks for goalies and after donning one, he ducked out of the way of a puck, only to be hit in the head. More stitches followed.
It was at Dalhousie that he coached his first women's team, in 1965. "He acquired a girlfriend he could yell at on the ice, Mr. ROWAN quipped. "It didn't last." But the coaching bug did.
Armed with a history degree, Mr. McMASTER returned to Toronto to study law. That lasted less than a year, and he graduated from the University of Toronto's teachers' college instead. He joined the small staff of Toronto's Royal St. George's College in 1969 and spent nearly 30 years teaching geography, history and guidance.
Mr. McMASTER began coaching the women's hockey team at University of Toronto while still a student there. In 22 seasons (1967-69 and 1975-93), he won an enviable 82 per cent of games. There, as with Team Canada, he would don his trademark track suit and black bike helmet to preside over practices, with cries of "Regroup!" "Shoot your passes!" and "Two laps." Coughing up the puck in the neutral zone was "a never."
In 1972, he married Norma McCLURE, who'd been his waitress at the Muskoka Golf and Country Club. The couple had a son, Scott, and a daughter, Anne, before divorcing in 1991. Mr. McMASTER never remarried.
He was a focused, demanding coach, but not obsessive, said his daughter. "I don't even have any idea how to skate. But Dad never pushed me. That was testament to his patience and love. He never raised his voice." At Toronto Maple Leaf games, "he was always coaching. He would cheer a good play by the other team."
He displayed his gold medal, said Anne, but not as prominently as a letter from a young girl saying Mr. McMASTER had changed her perspective on life.
He wasn't without a mischievous sense of humour. Vicki SUNOHARA, who played for Mr. McMASTER for two years, recalled how Team Canada once thrashed Japan 13-0. Ms. SUNOHARA, who is of Japanese extraction, scored several goals and was named player of the game. She recalled how Mr. McMASTER told her after the game, in mock horror, "These Japanese girls love you and look up to you. How could you do this to them?"
Mr. McMASTER went on to Bishop Strachan School in 1998 to coach hockey and teach geography and history. He was inducted into the University of Toronto's Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. He retired in 2001, but couldn't stop a simple desire to expose young people to Canada's game.
Asked whether it was the passion, cleaner play or some other mysterious quality that drew Mr. McMASTER to women's hockey as opposed to men's, his daughter smiled. "He used to say girls asked a lot more questions. I think he liked that."
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CSILLAG firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-03-31 published
Scholar was 'hooked' on religion
Director of Centre for Religious Studies at the University of Toronto was lauded for important introductory works
By Ron CSILLAG Special▲▼ to The Globe and Mail Monday, March 31, 2003 - Page R7
Like members of the clergy and their early epiphanies, scholars of religion can often pinpoint the instant they decided to pursue their calling.
For Willard OXTOBY, one of the world's foremost students of comparative religion and founding director of the University of Toronto's Centre for Religious Studies, a defining moment came at the tender age of five, when his father, a teacher of Old Testament at a Presbyterian seminary, taught his son to memorize the 23rd psalm, in Hebrew. One night, while an advanced Hebrew class met at the Oxtoby home, young Willard was summoned, in his pyjamas, to recite the psalm.
"See?" his father told the class. "Even a kid can do Hebrew, so get on with it."
A decade later, another breakthrough: While accompanying his father on a preaching visit, the elder OXTOBY recounted one of Jesus's parables, and then interrupted his exposition to say, "Of course that was just a story. Can a thing be true that never happened?"
About a year before his March 6 death in Toronto of colon cancer at age 69, the son remembered the father's blunt words as a turning point: "I can still recall the colour of paint on the wall at that instant. And thanks to the right question coming at the right time in my life, I've never had a problem personally handling the symbolic dimensions of religion."
He did more than merely handle. Through over 40 years of probing, analyzing, observing and writing in quantities that left colleagues astonished, Prof. OXTOBY bequeathed a legacy of scholarship that's been described as passionate and exuberant. From Anabaptism to Zoroastrianism, he dove headlong into all the world's major and minor religious traditions and had the ability, so often demonstrated, of connecting the dots between them.
"His command of detail was amazing," eulogized his former student, Alan SEGAL, who now teaches Jewish studies at Barnard College in New York, "all with specific knowledge of how it made religions fit together and help explain what religion was all about."
A fixture at the University of Toronto's religion department for 28 years, Prof. OXTOBY was a vocal proponent of interfaith dialogue, believing, as his friend, the Swiss Catholic renegade Hans KUNG, that there will be no peace on the planet until there is peace among its inhabitants' religions. In the specific case of Islam, he called for the need to understand the faith's diversity: "Lumping people of any group together, as if they're all alike, is one basic strategy of prejudice."
Prof. OXTOBY knew his share of grief -- he was twice married and twice widowed -- but he never lost his own footing. "He was optimistic and curious about everything until his final day, " said his son David, an executive with Ontario Power Generation Inc.
Willard Gurdon OXTOBY was born July 29, 1933, in Kentfield, Calif., just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, into a family of scholars. Both his father and grandfather were ministers and teachers of the Old Testament, and he spent a year between high school and college accompanying his father on a sabbatical to Europe and the Middle East. "I was hooked," he would recall. "The world of the Bible, both its archeology and its current events, came alive vividly."
After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in philosophy, he completed masters and doctoral degrees within a year of each other at Princeton, specializing in pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions. In 1958, he married Layla JURJI, the daughter of one of his Princeton professors, and the couple spent two years in Jerusalem, with Prof. OXTOBY as part of the team that studied the Dead Sea Scrolls.
His first teaching job was in Montreal, where he launched McGill University's inaugural course on Judaism. But after a few years, he realized he needed to explore the influence of modern-day Iran on the religion of the Hebrews following their Babylonian exile. He returned to school, this time to Harvard, to study Zoroastrianism, an ancient faith born in Persia, possibly the world's first monotheistic religion. So expert would he become that he was made an honorary member of the Zoroastrian Society of Ontario.
He taught at Yale University for five years before accepting a full professorship at the University of Toronto's Trinity College in 1971, a relationship that would last until his retirement in 1999. In between were a slew of visiting professorships, appointments, awards and fellowships, and authorship of dozens of entries for dictionaries and encyclopedias on world religions.
Reprising his travels with his father, Prof. OXTOBY took his wife and teenage son and daughter, Susan, on an around-the-world sabbatical beginning in 1976 to study Zoroastrians in the diaspora. The clan lived in London, India and southeast Asia. The experience "definitely changed my perspective on the transient nature of North American culture," recalled Susan, director of programming at Cinematheque Ontario.
Cancer claimed Prof. OXTOBY's first wife in 1980. The following year, he married Julia CHING, a Shanghai-born onetime Catholic nun and formidable scholar of Chinese religions and neo-Confucian philosophy. The two formed an academic partnership at University of Toronto that produced a slew of monographs and articles, before cancer took Prof. CHING in October, 2001.
Prof. OXTOBY was probably best known for two introductory volumes he edited, World Religions: Western Traditions and World Religions: Eastern Traditions, in which he wrote chapters on Christianity, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and general entries. Both have been hailed for their lucidity -- examples of his ability to render complex matters accessible without dumbing them down. He was working on a condensed, one-volume version of the books at the time of his death, along with a multitude of other projects.
In all, he travelled to more than 100 countries and studied over a dozen languages, including Arabic, Ugaritic and Sanskrit.
He was fond of recounting several humorous firsts in his career: That he was ordained a Presbyterian minister without actually attending divinity school; that he gathered the inscriptional data for his dissertation in one day; and that he smuggled pork sausages into Israel.
A deeply religious man personally and a biblical scholar too, Prof. OXTOBY never thought of himself as anything other than a Christian -- but as a comparatavist, never an exclusivist: "At no time have I ever supposed that God could not also reach out to other persons in their traditions and communities as fully and as satisfyingly as He has to me in mine," he concluded in his 1983 book, The Meaning of Other Faiths. "My Christianity, including my sense of Christian ministry, has commanded that I be open to learn from the faith of others."
He extended that openness to his own funeral: "He wanted it to be non-eucharistic," his son David said. "He wanted everyone to feel welcome."
Prof. OXTOBY even had a snappy comeback to pious Christians who asked whether he'd been saved: "Well, I'll be damned if I'm not."
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CSILLAG email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-08-30 published
A man of uncommon passion and drive
Despite hints of scandal, the scrappy former Liberal member of parliament, who spent a lifetime fighting for social safety nets, earned a reputation as a tireless crusader for the working people
By Ron CSILLAG Special▲▼ to the Globe and Mail; With a report from staff Saturday, August 30, 2003 - Page F8
He died with his boots on.
John MUNRO, a Trudeau era Liberal warhorse once described as a rumpled fighter who had gone too many rounds, had just put the finishing touches to a barn-burning speech, to be delivered to a Rotary Club, on the evils of concentration of media ownership when he suffered at heart attack at his desk in his Hamilton home on August 19. He was 72.
It was almost just as well that he went suddenly, his daughter, Anne, said in a eulogy, for her father could not stand suffering. Rather, he would not abide it. Suffering had no place in Canada, he reasoned, which is why his name is so closely associated with such social safety nets as medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and improvements to Old Age Security.
More than 500 well-wishers, including old political pals, steel-workers, artists, business people and labourers, packed the James Street Baptist Church last Saturday to laud Hamilton's favourite son, a scrappy lawyer who earned a reputation as a tireless crusader for working people, despite the recurring taint of scandal.
As the Member of Parliament for Hamilton East from 1962 to 1984 and through five cabinet posts, he was proudly on the left of the Liberal Party, alongside people such as Allan MacEACHEN, Judy LAMARSH, Lloyd AXWORTHY, Eugene WHELAN -- and probably Pierre TRUDEAU himself -- fighting for medicare, against capital punishment and in favour of a guaranteed annual income. As minister of national health and welfare, he didn't win the battle for a guaranteed annual income, but he did get the Guaranteed Income Supplement that has made life easier for many seniors. He was also known and often ridiculed -- for being a chain-smoking health minister.
Prime Minister Jean CHRÉTIEN, who entered Parliament a year after Mr. MUNRO, mourned the death of his former cabinet colleague. "We were very good Friends, and I'm terribly sorry that he passed away. He was a very good member of Parliament, and he was a very good minister and a guy who worked very, very hard in all the files that were given to him."
The political bug bit early. At 18, Mr. MUNRO ran for president of the Tribune Society at Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton. Mark NEMIGAN, a lifelong friend, remembers his resourcefulness: "He went to a local bus stop and festooned all the park benches with banners reading, 'Vote for John.' It worked too. He had uncommon drive and passion, even then."
Born in Hamilton on March 26, 1931, to lawyer John Anderson MUNRO and Katherine CARR, a housewife, John Carr MUNRO became a municipal alderman at the age of 23 while attending law school at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.
"I have no idea how he did that," Mr. NEMIGAN says. "The guy didn't sleep."
Mr. MUNRO took his first run at federal politics in the seat of Hamilton West in 1957, but was beaten by Ellen FAIRCLOUGH, who went on to become Canada's first female cabinet minister. In 1962, he switched ridings, and won the seat he would hold for the next 22 years.
With the election of Mr. TRUDEAU in 1968, a string of cabinet positions followed for Mr. MUNRO: minister without portfolio, amateur sport, health and welfare, labour and Indian affairs and northern development, the last earning him the hard-won respect of aboriginal groups.
In the 1968 general election, an aggressive young poll captain named Sheila COPPS worked on Mr. MUNRO's re-election bid. She would go on to replace him in the seat in 1984.
Tom AXWORTHY, who was Mr. TRUDEAU's principal secretary, recalled that the prime minister often turned to Mr. MUNRO for support on progressive positions at the cabinet table: "When we had those kind of debates, he would kind of look over to MUNRO when he wanted to hear the liberal perspective on the issue."
Mr. MUNRO's support for the decriminalization of marijuana led to a perk in December, 1969: A 90-minute chat about drugs with John LENNON and Yoko ONO, fresh from the duo's "bed-in" at Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Documents unearthed this spring by a researcher for an Ottawa Beatles Web site revealed that Mr. LENNON joked that while Mr. TRUDEAU and Mr. MUNRO, then health minister, were members of the "establishment," they were both "hip."
"Mr. MUNRO's speech [on the decriminalization of marijuana] was the only political speech I ever heard about that had anything to do with reality that came through to me," Mr. LENNON is quoted as saying in the 12,000-word document.
Contacted by a reporter in May, Mr. MUNRO recalled that the incident, and his stand on cannabis, didn't go over well. "Yeah, I was in a little hot water at the time," he laughed. "Everybody thought I wanted to give the country to the junkies."
Mr. LENNON and Ms. ONO made a distinct impression, he said. "The more I think about it, the more I remember he and his wife were very polite and committed people."
In 1974, the water became considerably hotter when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police raided Mr. MUNRO's campaign headquarters during a probe into kickbacks and bid rigging on Hamilton Harbour dredging contracts.
Around the same time, Mr. MUNRO was criticized for accepting a $500 campaign donation from a union whose leaders were under investigation.
In 1978, he was forced to resign from the cabinet when it was revealed that he had talked to a judge by telephone to give a character reference for a constituent on the day of the person's sentencing for assault. But he bounced back with a tenacity that Mr. TRUDEAU was said to have admired and in 1980 won reappointment to the cabinet.
Mr. MUNRO's stamp on Hamilton was legendary, from the reclamation of land that gave the city Confederation Park, to the Canada Centre for Inland Waters, to the fundraising of more than $50-million for the local airport, renamed in his honour in 1998. "Without a doubt, he was the feistiest, most stubborn person I knew in public life," former mayor Bob MORROW remarked. "I don't think we will ever meet his equal of scaring up funds for Hamilton."
When Mr. TRUDEAU retired in 1984, Mr. MUNRO ran for the Liberal leadership and prime minister. He finished a poor fifth in a field of six. There began what his daughter called the "decade from hell," starting with a four-year Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation so vigorous, the Mounties even considered using a helicopter to track Mr. MUNRO because the officers assigned to tail him couldn't keep up with his car.
That investigation killed a re-election bid in 1988 and scuttled his marriage to Lilly Oddie MUNRO, a minister in the former Ontario Liberal government. It eventually produced 37 flimsy charges of breach of trust, conspiracy, corruption, fraud and theft stemming from his years as Indian affairs minister. After a trial that dragged on for most of 1991, the judge threw out nearly all the charges without even calling for defence evidence. The Crown later withdrew the rest.
Mr. MUNRO welcomed the verdict as "complete exoneration" but was left with legal bills estimated at nearly $1-million and a reputation in ruins. Swimming in debt (he had to rely on Ontario Legal Aid), he filed a civil suit in 1992, claiming malicious prosecution and maintaining he had been targeted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to embarrass him. He attempted a political comeback in 1993, only to have Mr. CHRÉTIEN refuse to sign his nomination papers. Mr. MUNRO responded by filing an unsuccessful court challenge seeking to strip Mr. CHRÉTIEN of his power to appoint candidates.
Mr. MUNRO, who had returned to an immigration law practice in Hamilton, felt betrayed by the government's refusal to pay his legal bills, and it took an emotional toll.
"I'm not mad at the world," he said in 1996. "I realized this could totally destroy me if I didn't live a day at a time. You have to impose discipline, or you're finished. The motivation to carry on is voided. There's nothing to look forward to except endless grief."
He finally won nearly $1.4-million in compensation from Ottawa in 1999, but most of the money went to pay taxes, legal bills and other expenses. He could have avoided problems by declaring bankruptcy, but insisted on clearing his debts.
"He was no saint, but he was dedicated and hardworking," said his daughter Susan. "He was deeply hurt."
Mr. MUNRO had no interest in the personal trappings of wealth, she said, adding that he had a weakness only for Chevy Chevettes and homemade muffins. Good thing too, for a proposal for bankruptcy he filed in 1995 showed a monthly living balance of $476.
His last political gasp came in 2000 when he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Hamilton. Asked in 1996 about writing his memoirs, he said: "I'm not ready. There's no last chapter yet."
Mr. MUNRO leaves his third wife, Barbara, and four children.
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CSILLAG firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-09-22 published
Quiet minister a Trudeau stalwart
Former Bay Street whiz kid helped revamp Canada's social safety net and served as both secretary of state and labour minister
By Ron CSILLAG Special▲▼ to The Globe and Mail Monday, September 22, 2003 - Page R7
His children possess no qualms about pronouncing Martin O'CONNELL as having been a bit of a policy wonk. "Oh, totally," says his son John.
"My dad wasn't interested in money -- odd, given his Bay Street successes. Just policy, and formulating policy."
"He was a classic workaholic," concurs Mr. O'CONNELL's daughter Caryn. "He was just driven by his work. It's one of the things that kept him going."
Rare is the politician remembered for self-effacing skills and effectiveness rather than bombast. Mr. O'CONNELL was indeed serious and conscientious. He worked hard and achieved much. But of all the cabinet ministers from the Pierre TRUDEAU era, his name probably rings the quietist bell for Canadians old enough to recall names like Don Jamieson, Otto Lang and Marc Lalonde.
Mr. O'CONNELL, who died in Toronto on August 11 at 87 of complications from Parkinson's disease, served as Canada's labour minister on two separate occasions, and was Mr. TRUDEAU's principal secretary for two years when Trudeaumania had been replaced by the infuriation of millions with Canada's philosopher-king.
How does one keep a low profile in federal politics, especially in a contentious cabinet post? Mr. O'CONNELL did it by guiding the country with a steady hand through great labour turbulence in the early 1970s, including convincing his boss to pass emergency legislation that terminated work stoppages at the Vancouver and Montreal dockyards.
"He was an exceptionally low-key guy. He liked it that way," recalls Barney DANSON, who served as Minister of National Defence in the Trudeau cabinet. Doubtless Mr. TRUDEAU saw in Mr. O'CONNELL a kind of kinship. Both men were unflappable philosophers and academics at heart who entered politics relatively late in life, both sacrificing cushier lives to hasten Mr. TRUDEAU's vaunted "just society."
For Mr. O'CONNELL, the bug bit in 1965 when he and two other Bay Street whiz kids were summoned to Ottawa by then finance minister Walter GORDON -- still stinging from a disastrous budget two years earlier -- to help revamp Canada's social safety net. The group ultimately designed policies that led to the Canada Pension Plan, the Municipal Loan Development Fund and medicare.
Martin Patrick O'CONNELL was one of four children born in Victoria to a mother from Ontario and a horticulturist father from County Kerry in Ireland who farmed a few acres and raised livestock. Mr. O'CONNELL taught elementary school for six years and completed a B.A. at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, before beginning a wartime stint in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps and Infantry Regiment. Haunted perhaps by the death of his brother Johnny, cut down in the battle for Caen, France, in June, 1944, Mr. O'CONNELL volunteered for action in the Pacific just as the fighting ceased.
It was while in uniform that he met his future wife of 58 years, Helen Alice DIONNE. The two met at the Art Gallery of Ontario while Mr. O'CONNELL was on leave from his base, and Ms. DIONNE was volunteering at the museum.
He spent the decade after the war at the University of Toronto, earning graduate degrees in economics and political science and lecturing on Plato, John Stuart Mill and liberal democratic principles. He had learned French for his doctoral thesis on Henri Bourassa, one of the first scholarly studies in English on the fiery Quebec journalist and Canadian nationalist.
Academia gave way to Bay Street, where Mr. O'CONNELL spent 11 years in investing and bond underwriting while heading the volunteer Indian and Eskimo Association of Canada, as it was then called, where he represented aboriginal concerns to governments and encouraged the devolution of federal powers to native groups.
He had run and lost in 1965 in the federal seat of Greenwood in Toronto but was swept up in the 1968 Trudeau whirlwind, winning the seat of Scarborough East. In 1971, he was named Secretary of State, and was appointed Labour Minister the following year, just before Mr. TRUDEAU called an election that ended in a minority Liberal government. Mr. O'CONNELL, like 46 other Grit members of parliament, was defeated.
But he bounced back as Mr. TRUDEAU's principal secretary for those two lean minority years between 1972 and 1974. Mr. O'CONNELL laid the groundwork for Mr. TRUDEAU's first official visit to the People's Republic of China in 1973 and was instrumental in establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing. (His interest in China would later find expression in his role as co-chair of the Canadian Foundation for the Preservation of Chinese Cultural and Historical Treasures.)
Mr. O'CONNELL also reshaped the Prime Minister's Office in an effort to bring the party closer to the grassroots of Canadian society.
The 1974 general election returned a majority Liberal government and Mr. O'CONNELL as the Member of Parliament for Scarborough East. In 1978, he was back as Labour Minister.
Around the cabinet table, "he wasn't terribly assertive," recalls Mr. DANSON. "He only spoke when he knew what he was talking about." During question period, "he was logical and solid. He was never asked the same question twice. He exuded integrity."
Mr. O'CONNELL lost to Tory Gordon GILCHRIST in the 1979 and 1980 elections (the latter by 511 votes) and he took no pleasure in Mr. GILCHRIST's resignation of the seat in 1984 after a tax-evasion conviction.
Mr. O'CONNELL took a stab at the presidency of the Liberal Party, losing by two just votes. Despite the lack of backing by old Friends, he took the losses gracefully, saying they were part of politics. "They all say that," remarked Mr. O'CONNELL's long-time friend David GOLDBERG. "He took it stoically, but hard."
He bid politics farewell and returned to the private sector as a consultant to government agencies and corporations. The only time his name was ever remotely linked to controversy was in 1983. He was acting as a consultant to multinational drug companies when he was hired by the government to consult on legislation the companies wanted repealed. Mr. O'CONNELL disclosed his role with the drug companies immediately, and Ottawa explained he was tapped precisely because he knew his way around the industry.
He was a taciturn man but prescient when he pronounced, in 1984, that tobacco smoke was a legitimate health problem in the workplace. As head of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, Mr. O'CONNELL commented on the recently changed Canada Labour Code: "My own feeling is that the right to refuse work is an essential right, ... personally, I wouldn't think it would be an abuse [of the legislation] to refuse work because of tobacco smoke.''
Mr. O'CONNELL's daughter Caryn recalls somewhat ruefully that as a child she would sometimes hesitate to tell her Friends' parents about what her father did for a living, fearing a typical tirade about Mr. TRUDEAU.
"But my Dad really was different," she recalls. "He may not have been as colourful [as other politicians] but he taught us to play fair and to accept defeat. He taught us the values of honesty, tolerance, patience and the concept of justice. But we never felt pressured. He never force-fed us. I think he was the rare person who entered politics to do good."
Mr. O'CONNELL leaves his wife, children, a brother, sister, four grandchildren and something rare indeed: a good name.
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CSILLAG email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-11-26 published
A scholar and a gentle man
'Fine example of a great Canadian' who founded Ontario's Brock University was once private secretary to prime minister Mackenzie KING
By Ron CSILLAG, Special▲ to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - Page R9
In an almost Zen-like fashion, James GIBSON knew the value of not acting. In the late 1960s, when a group of student radicals seized part of Brock University, hoping to be dragged away kicking and screaming, Dr. GIBSON, who had helped found the institution a few years earlier, reacted in a way no other university president did when faced with the same problem: He did nothing. The protesters, he reasoned, may have had legitimate grievances, but their unseemly actions offended his firm sense of propriety. In time, the students simply went away.
It was an effective, though uncharacteristic, action for a man who embodied Brock's Latin motto: "Surgite," freely translated as "push on." That he did, through some 65 rich years of advancing higher education and in public service, most notably as a private secretary to former prime minister Mackenzie KING, whose penchant for soothsaying and assorted eccentricities Dr. GIBSON kept mainly to himself until later in life.
Just five days before his death in Ottawa on October 23 at the age of 91, Dr. GIBSON was doing what he loved: Watching a new group of graduates receive their diplomas at the fall convocation of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, the school he had launched as founding president in 1963.
At a recent memorial service at Brock, David ATKINSON, the university's president and vice-chancellor, recalled a man whose attributes a strong moral fibre, clarity of thought and a general uprightness, all tempered by a warm and gentle touch -- harkened to a quaint, bygone era. "It's unlikely we will meet anyone like him again," Dr. ATKINSON said.
In the House of Commons on October 27, Dr. GIBSON was praised by St. Catharines Liberal member of parliament Walt LASTEWKA as "a fine example of a great Canadian."
Dr. GIBSON, whose knowledge of Canadian history and government were legend, was in the news this past summer as the oldest of over 1,000 Rhodes Scholars who flew to England for a five-day bash honouring the centenary of the trust. With his brother William, also a Rhodes Scholar, Dr. GIBSON dedicated a re-leaded stained-glass window at the chapel of Oxford's New College.
A normally discreet man, he had sharp words for former prime minister Brian MULRONEY, not an Oxford graduate, who surprised guests at the alumni dinner -- and raised a few eyebrows -- when he took a seat on the podium alongside Oxonians Bill CLINTON and Tony BLAIR, and guest Nelson MANDELA. Many alumni, Dr. GIBSON included, felt that Mr. MULRONEY, who had been invited by The Independent newspaper chain, had no business being there. Though upset, Dr. GIBSON retained his dignity, saying simply, "I was offended."
James Alexander GIBSON was born in Ottawa, in 1912, to Canadian-born parents of Irish-Scottish stock with strong Methodist and Quaker leanings. Raised in Victoria, he graduated with a B.A. in history from the University of British Columbia at age 18. Less than a year later, he was one of the youngest boys at Oxford.
"That was the real dividing line in my life," he told The Globe and Mail last July. "The economic depression was beginning to take over and some of the graduates in my year at University of British Columbia ended up digging ditches, but I had a guaranteed income for three years."
The annual stipend was only £400 but it enabled Dr. GIBSON to live comfortably and travel to the rest of Europe when he wasn't studying modern history, debating in the Oxford Union Society and keeping wicket for the New College cricket squad, the Nomads.
Back in Ottawa and armed with a doctorate in history, he joined the Department of External Affairs. On his second day on the job, he was whisked to the prime minister's office for a six-month secondment that lasted nine years. Mr. KING, who was also External Affairs minister, blocked Dr. GIBSON's promotions to postings abroad three times because "he told me I stopped him getting into trouble."
The prime minister was a notorious taskmaster, calling on his assistant to work most evenings and weekends to draft letters and speeches. Throughout, "Dad never complained about anything," said his daughter Julia MATTHEWS. " But as he got older, he loosened up a little."
According to his daughter, he came to describe the famously erratic leader as "a very grumpy man and a very lonely man, insensitive, and quite damaging to work for."
Ultimately, it occurred to the clan that perhaps the unmarried prime minister was simply jealous of Dr. GIBSON's status as a beloved family man and father of three children. "Whenever we went on a family holiday, Dad always got called back," remembered Ms. MATTHEWS.
But a high point came in the spring of 1945, when Dr. GIBSON accompanied Mr. KING and 380 other delegates to San Francisco and the founding of the United Nations. During the historic two-month conference, Dr. GIBSON got personal glimpses of such leaders as the Soviet Union's Andrei GROMYKO and Britain's Anthony EDEN, but the task at hand, he later recalled, was to keep the Canadian prime minister "on the rails."
Fearing he would never advance in the public service, Dr. GIBSON resigned in 1947 and took a teaching post at Ottawa's Carleton University, where he later served as the first dean of arts and science and deputy to the president. By the early 1960s, he was courted by a group of community leaders in the Niagara peninsula to establish Brock University. When he began as founding president, the school had seven faculty (known as "the magnificent seven"), 29 students and a "library" consisting of a shelf of books. Today, it boasts more than 15,000 students and 47,000 alumni.
His first order of business at Brock was the creation of a library.
Now housed in the campus's Schmon Tower, it has become something of a landmark on the Niagara Escarpment. Dr. GIBSON, fondly known by faculty as "James A.," remained as Brock's president until 1974. He was named to the Order of Canada in 1992, and the library was named after him in 1996.
He was also a leading figure in the Unitarian faith, serving for a time as chaplain of the Unitarian Congregation of Niagara.
Asked what dinner-table conversation was like at home, Ms. MATTHEWS sighed good-naturedly. "Oh, God. There was a lot of current events. He had all the answers. He was always lecturing, but he could be really charming." Even after his vision started to fail, he travelled, read and wrote. "He never felt old."
After moving from his beloved St. Catharines to an Ottawa retirement home, Dr. GIBSON lectured residents on "governors-general I have known."
Dr. GIBSON was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Caroline (née STEIN,) and leaves three children, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, his brother, and a sister, Isobel SEARLS.
His final days were summed up poetically by Josephine MEEKER, a former professor at Brock. After attending the university's convocation last month, Dr. GIBSON "went for a long walk, returned to his residence, went into the lounge area, took off his coat and folded it up, put it on the back of his chair, sat down, folded his hands in his lap, closed his eyes, and died."
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