Supreme Trio: The Hon. Morris Fish, the Hon. Frank Iacobucci, and the Hon. Louis LeBel
Supreme Trio: The Hon. Morris Fish, The Hon. Frank Iacobucci, and The Hon. Louis LeBel.

“To Be Frank” was both the title and theme for a June colloquium at the McGill Faculty of Law which focused on The Honourable Frank Iacobucci, and was timed to celebrate his 80th birthday. Conceived, organised and chaired by Professor Shauna Van Praagh, in connection with her research and writing, the event explored engaged citizenship through the work and impact of Frank Iacobucci.

Shauna Van Praagh and Frank Iacobucci
Professor Shauna Van Praagh with former Supreme Court Justice, Frank Iacobucci.

Colloquium conversations were shaped by almost 40 individuals who had been invited to write short reflections on Frank’s influence on their lives and careers.  These “friends of Frank” came from a broad spectrum of experiences and positions of responsibility; their pieces informed the two themes of the colloquium – Diversity and Inclusivity in Canadian Institutions and Society, and Ethical Practice in Leadership, Governance and Law – which provoked informed inquiry and productive exchange about complex contemporary challenges.

“His is a story of determination, imagination and leadership, as time and again we hear of Frank’s ability to view obstacles as opportunities and to demonstrate the qualities of teamwork, self-awareness, moderation, creativity and resilience.” David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, wrote in his contribution, which was read aloud by student participants during colloquium proceedings. “Renowned for his ability to find common ground and to forge consensus, as well as for his simple and generous humanity, Frank is a bridge-builder from whom we have much to learn.”

Throughout the day stories were told of Frank the corporate lawyer and Deputy Minister of Justice, Frank the law Professor and Dean, University Provost and President, Frank the member of the Federal Court and Supreme Court of Canada, Frank as negotiator and reviewer and director and advisor, Frank as parent and Frank as mentor. What was apparent from the colloquium proceedings however, was not how impressive Frank’s curriculum vitae is (though very impressive!), but rather how Frank inspires those around him to act as leaders—to act ethically with care and compassion.

More than paying tribute to Frank Iacobucci, the colloquium provided participants of all ages with a reminder of what one can become when care is taken in our everyday moments, as it is when we are working towards our greatest endeavours.

Text: Meghan Pearson
Photos: Ana Lucia Lobos