Fred Kaufman to be Doctor of Laws

Ceremony C: May 17, 2012

Journalist, lawyer, judge, The Honorable Fred Kaufman. Who would have dared to predict in 1940 that the 16 year-old internee in Minto, New Brunswick would become the accomplished man standing before us today.
 
The only child of a Jewish silk importer, Fred was one of the Kindertransport children evacuated from Austria and sent to Britain at age 15, just before the start of the Second World War. The next year, he was deemed to be an adult and, by some magnificent twisted logic, an enemy alien.  He was sent to Canada, ending up in the Internment Camp at Minto, where he spent the winter felling trees. A year later he was transferred to a camp near Sherbrooke, Quebec where he was finally released in 1942. He completed High School and, notwithstanding being in a new country with a new language, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Bishop's University at age 22.

After six years as a reporter, Fred returned to university to obtain a B.A. from l'Université de Montréal and a Bachelor of Laws degree from McGill. A 20-year career as a partner in the firm of Kaufman, Yarosky & Fish, was followed by 20 more years as a Judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal. After retiring from that position he resumed his law practice, and apparently deciding he did not have enough academic credentials, completed an M.B.A at Concordia University. The third major component of his career, which was about to begin, focused on miscarriages of justice.

The Attorney General of Nova Scotia called upon him twice, first to review Public Prosecution Services, and secondly to review the government’s response to reports of abuse by provincial employees against former residents of provincial institutions. From 1996 to 1998, he was appointed a one-man Ontario Royal Commission to investigate the circumstances of the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin. In 2002, he was appointed to examine the application of Steven Truscott against his conviction for murder in 1959 at age 14. The 750 page document he submitted concluded that a miscarriage of justice had likely occurred and the Court of Appeal acquitted Truscott in 2007.

One cannot help but wonder if being incarcerated without cause himself helped motivate Fred to undertake such cases.

These are only some of the highlights of Fred’s remarkable career. You could write a book.... well in fact, Fred has done that. His aptly titled autobiography Searching for Justice was published by Key Porter Books in 2005.

A member of the Order of Canada since 1992 and a special Fellow of the Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Royal Society of Canada since 2002, Fred Kaufman represents a triumph of success over adversity and a model for every aspiring lawyer. We are most pleased to award him this honorary degree today.

Citation written by Gordon Mason, University Orator