Honorary degree citation - Gerald LeDain*
By: Ian L. Campbell, June 1976
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you the Honourable Mr. Justice Gerald LeDain, distinguished jurist, educator, lawyer and public servant.
Dr. LeDain was born and educated in Montreal. He studied in the Faculties of Arts and Law at McGill. At graduation he was honoured as the student standing first in his class. He subsequently earned a doctorate at the Université de Lyon.
During the war he served in the Royal Canadian Artillery. He is a member of the Quebec and Ontario Bars and was created a Queen's Council in 1961. He has practiced law in Montreal and served as Counsel for the Attorney General of Quebec in constitutional cases from 1963 to 1967.
Gerald LeDain has had a varied and distinguished academic career. It began in the 1940's when, for five years, he was a parttime lecturer in the Department of English at Sir George Williams College. For nearly a decade he was a distinguished member of the Faculty of Law of McGill. From 1967 to 1972 he served as Dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School. Under his leadership major innovations were made in the programmes of the School and in consequence the reputation of an already great law school was enhanced.
Dr. LeDain has a record of scholarly publications that could be envied by most academics. His writing has ranged from topics of major constitutional significance to consideration of the methods of teaching law.
He has made a number of notable contributions in the service of Canada. Dr. LeDain was a consultant to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism and Advisor to the Special Counsel on the Constitution to the Minister of Justice of Canada. For four years from 1969 he was Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs that became known as the LeDain Commission. In that role he contributed mightily to the potential for understanding and compassion between the generations in Canada, he brought reason, calm, fact and informed judgement to an arena that had been dominated by hysteria, superstition, ignorance and prejudice. Throughout he displayed patience and wisdom. It was my great privilege to serve with him as a colleague and I learned to respect his mind as one of the two or three most powerful intellects that I have met.
In 1975 Gerald LeDain was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeal and to the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada.
Mr. Chancellor, it is a distinct honour to present to you, on behalf of the Senate, and by authority of the Board of Governors, the Honourable Mr. Justice Gerald Eric Willoughby LeDain, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.