News Column

Law Society to Honour Five Extraordinary Ontarians

Apr 25 2013 12:00AM



TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 04/25/13 -- Five distinguished individuals, including Ontario's own Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, will each receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD), from the Law Society of Upper Canada at ceremonies in Toronto, London and Ottawa in June.

Honorary doctorates are awarded to individuals in recognition of outstanding achievements in service and benefit to the legal profession, the rule of law or the cause of justice.

The 2013 recipients are:

-- The Honourable David C. Onley-- The Honourable Annemarie E. Bonkalo, Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice-- The Honourable J. Douglas Cunningham, QC-- The Honourable Edward W. Ducharme-- The Honourable Dennis O'Connor, QC

The Law Society will present the honorary doctorates at June Call to the Bar ceremonies, which welcome new lawyers to the profession. Honorary LLD recipients serve as inspirational keynote speakers for the graduating classes.

"The Law Society is proud to honour these five extraordinary individuals and their numerous contributions to the legal profession, the cause of justice, and the people of Ontario," says Law Society Treasurer Thomas G. Conway. "These honorary doctorates recognize and celebrate their venerable careers and achievements."

Each LLD recipient's career is highlighted below.

The Honourable David C. Onley - Toronto, June 20, 2:30 p.m.

The Honourable David C. Onley graduated from the University of Toronto in 1975 with a BA (Honours) in Political Science. He worked as an intern at Queen's Park and attended the University of Windsor Law School.

He was Canada's first senior newscaster with a visible disability and worked for CityTV for 22 years. A popular news anchor, host/producer, science and technology specialist, and weatherman, he showed that ability outshines disability.

In 2007, he was appointed Ontario's 28th Lieutenant Governor and became the nation's most highly placed advocate for accessibility. As Lieutenant Governor he has promoted accessibility and spoken about equality for all persons with disabilities. He has taught business leaders of the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and passionately encouraged their employment. He also remains dedicated to bringing attention to the neglected First Nations communities in Northern Ontario, and has implemented an Aboriginal Forum to study their challenges.

For his public service, he has received many awards, including 10 honorary degrees since becoming Lieutenant Governor.

The Lieutenant Governor is Chair of the Order of Ontario and Vice-Patron of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. He is also a recipient of the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal and The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

The Honourable Annemarie E. Bonkalo, Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice - Toronto, June 21, 9 a.m.

Chief Justice Bonkalo holds a BA (Honours) from Queen's University, an MA in Criminology from the University of Toronto and an LLB from Queen's University.

Called to the Bar of Ontario in 1978, Chief Justice Bonkalo was appointed the first woman Assistant Crown Attorney in Peel Region in 1978. She was appointed as a judge of the Ontario Court (Provincial Division) in 1990, Regional Senior Justice - Toronto Region in 2004, and Associate Chief Justice in 2005. She was appointed Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice in 2007.

She serves as Chair of the Chief Justice's Executive Committee, the Justices of the Peace Review Council and the Canadian Council of Chief Judges, and Co-chair of the Ontario Judicial Council.

She has lectured in the areas of criminal law, advocacy and court administration, in addition to presiding over hundreds of criminal cases.

The Ontario Court of Justice is one of Ontario's two trial courts and deals primarily with criminal and family law cases as well as youth criminal justice matters. It is also the largest trial court in Canada with a complement of 284 judges and 345 justices of the peace.

The Honourable J. Douglas Cunningham, QC - Ottawa, June 18, 10 a.m.

The Honourable Douglas Cunningham, QC, was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1969 after receiving an LLB from Queen's University Law School. A former partner in the law firm of Cunningham, Swan, in Kingston, he was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1980.

He was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court in 1991. He served as president of the Ontario Superior Court Judges Association from April 1999 until 2000, when he was appointed Regional Senior Judge of the Superior Court of Justice for the East Region.

In 1999, he was appointed to the Pension Appeals Board, and to the Court Martial Appeals Court in 2010. In December 2002, he was appointed Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice.

As a member of the Canadian Judicial Council, Associate Chief Justice Cunningham served as a member on the Executive Committee and chaired the Administration of Justice Committee.

He presided over hundreds of cases as a trial judge and has conducted countless mediations throughout his judicial career.

On September 30, 2012, he retired from the Superior Court of Justice and began his private mediation and arbitration practice at Neeson Chambers in Toronto.

The Honourable Edward W. Ducharme - London, June 24, 2:30 p.m.

Justice Ducharme holds a PhD in English and Education from the University of Michigan (1980) and an MA and LLB (1985) from the University of Windsor. He was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1987.

Before entering the practice of law in 1990, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Windsor, where he specialized in teaching courses in literary criticism and theory.

He practised initially with Sutts Strosberg LLP, then with Ducharme Fox LLP, in Windsor, where his main areas of practice were employment law and labour relations.

He served as a bencher of the Law Society from 1999 until his appointment to the Superior Court of Justice (Ontario) in May 2002.

Justice Ducharme has authored or co-authored legal articles in a variety of areas, including employment law, the law of evidence, and civil trial advocacy.

In 2004, he was appointed local administrative justice for Chatham-Kent, and in 2009, he was appointed Regional Senior Judge for the Superior Court of Justice in the Southwest Region. He was a member of the Clerkship Committee for the Superior Court of Justice from 2006 until his judicial appointment, and a member and occasional co-chair of the Court's Education Committee from 2005 to 2008.

On April 5, 2012, he was appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

The Honourable Dennis O'Connor, QC - Toronto, June 21, 2:30 p.m.

The Honourable Dennis O'Connor, QC, received an LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1964 and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1966.

After his call, he practised law with his father and Arthur Maloney, QC. He was appointed Magistrate in the Yukon Territory and sat as a Deputy Magistrate of the Northwest Territories from 1973 to 1976.

In 1980, he was appointed Queen's Counsel. From 1980 to 1998, he practised a broad range of litigation with the firm Borden & Elliot in Toronto.

He was appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 1998 and went on to serve as the Associate Chief Justice of Ontario from 2001 until he retired at the end of 2012. He led the Walkerton Inquiry from 2000 to 2002 and the Maher Arar Inquiry from 2004 to 2006.

He has received honorary Doctors of Law degrees from the University of Guelph (2011), Assumption University (2008), York University (2007) and the University of Western Ontario (2003).

Other honours include the Toronto Lawyers Association Award of Distinction, the Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada Eid-ul-Adha Award (2008), the Ontario Bar Association Award for Distinguished Service (2007), the Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators Medal (2006), the Canadian Water Resources Association Distinguished Achievement Award (2004) and the American Water Works Association Award of Merit (2003).

Mr. O'Connor retired from the Bench at the end of 2012 and recently re-joined the Toronto offices of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (formerly Borden & Elliot), as counsel.

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals ( in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.

For more information about the Law Society, visit us online (

Media Contacts:
Law Society of Upper Canada
Susan Tonkin
Communications Advisor
(416) 947-7605

Law Society of Upper Canada
Lisa Hall
Manager, Communications
(416) 947-7625

Source: Marketwire

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