Searching for Justice

Searching for Justice: An Autobiography

FRED KAUFMAN
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442679665
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  • Book Info
    Searching for Justice
    Book Description:

    The Honourable Fred Kaufman has been a distinguished figure in Canadian law for a half century. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in mid-1920s Vienna, Kaufman escaped to England on the eve of the Second World War. In 1940, he was interned as an 'enemy alien' and sent to Canada. Released in 1942, Kaufman stayed in Canada where he went on to university and law school in Montreal.

    Kaufman was called to the Bar of Quebec in 1955 and practiced criminal law for eighteen years, taking part in many of the famous cases of that period. In 1960, he secured the release of a young Pierre Elliott Trudeau from prison, and in 1973, Trudeau returned the favour by personally informing Kaufman of his appointment to the Quebec Court of Appeal, where he served for eighteen years, including one as Acting Chief Justice of Quebec. Since his retirement in 1991, Kaufman has led numerous commissions and inquiries, most notably the investigation into the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin and the two-year reassessment of the Steven Truscott case.

    Searching for Justiceis Kaufman's remarkable story in his own words. It is the tale of adversity overcome in a crucial period of Canadian legal history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7966-5
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    R. Roy McMurtry and Peter N. Oliver

    As one assessor wrote, this is ‘a tale well told of a remarkable life well lived’ Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Vienna in the mid-1920s, Fred Kaufman managed to leave his native city on one of the trains to freedom before the outbreak of the Second World War. The young boy found refuge in England, but in May 1940, along with thousands of others, he was interned as an enemy alien and sent to Canada. He was released in 1942, went to school and then to university, and found employment as a reporter with the Montreal Star. Fascinated...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 In the Beginning
    (pp. 3-24)

    In my living room in Toronto hang two old Viennese etchings. On a bookshelf are two tattered children’s books:Stoffel und die bösen BubenandPeters Reise.In a drawer are two tiny moth-eaten slippers. These are the only tangible souvenirs of my early childhood.

    I was born on 7 May 1924, in Vienna, the ancient capital of what was once a great empire. But by the time of my birth, the glamour and richness of thefin de siècleera was gone, and people were struggling for survival. The Great Depression was not yet upon us, and even worse...

  6. 2 Safe Haven
    (pp. 25-32)

    I left Vienna on 25 July 1939. I was a few weeks past fifteen years of age, and while I was overcome with a mixture of sadness and guilt for leaving home without my parents, I also felt a certain excitement. A whole new world lay ahead, and rather than fearing the unknown, as a wiser person might have done, I looked forward to a fresh start in life. If this seems contradictory, it probably was. But somehow, in the short time available, my parents had prepared me for this moment, and the good front they put up — ‘Don’t worry,...

  7. 3 Guest of His Majesty
    (pp. 33-52)

    The day was 12 May 1940, Whit Sunday, the seventh Sunday after Easter. The weather was sunny and mild, the grass had shed its winter hues, and peonies had just come into bloom. The news, however, was terrible. Germany had invaded Holland and Belgium, the road to France was clear, and Allied troops were in retreat. Worse was yet to come, and all of England seemed to sense this.

    Churchill had taken over the government two days before and that gave people hope. Immediately on assuming office, he formed a highlevel Home Defence Committee, charged with devising ways to deal...

  8. 4 Freedom Regained
    (pp. 53-60)

    It was cold and bleak, but the ride from the camp into Sherbrooke, a matter of ten minutes, was like a voyage of discovery into a world hitherto carefully hidden. I had a lot of questions, and so did my benefactors, and it was all marvellously exciting. Our first stop was Rosenbloom’s on Wellington Street, a venerable men’s store, where I was fitted with a brown, three-piece suit, shirts, socks, and underwear. From there we went to my new home, a comfortable house with a large verandah on Portland Avenue, near the corner of Quebec Street. There, Rabbi Mittleman’s wife,...

  9. 5 Newspaper Days
    (pp. 61-73)

    I graduated from Bishop’s in June 1946 with my Bachelor of Science in math and physics. In those days, three options were open to math majors: teaching, working for Bell Telephone (where long-distance tariffs were calculated by people good with figures), or a job with the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (DBS), the forerunner of Statistics Canada. Since I didn’t want to teach (which, in any case, would have taken an extra year of teachers’ college, something I couldn’t afford), I applied to Bell and the DBS. But Bell wasn’t hiring, and while the DBS was, and I had successfully written...

  10. 6 The Asbestos Strike
    (pp. 74-78)

    The strike began on 13 February 1949. Collective bargaining had brought no solution, and Jean Marchand, secretary general of the Canadian and Catholic Confederation of Labour, told the miners at the Canadian Johns-Manville plant in Asbestos that only two options remained: submit to arbitration, as provided by provincial labour laws, or strike. A strike, however, would be illegal, and he urged the men, who clearly favoured this action, to give him forty-eight hours to meet with the minister of labour. This was refused, and as midnight approached, groups of workers left the church hall where the meeting was held to...

  11. 7 Law School
    (pp. 79-90)

    My favourite pastime is reading — newspapers, magazines, journals, and books of all kinds. I read quickly, and I retain most of what I’ve read (especially trivia, according to my children). My tastes are wide, but I do have preferences which change from time to time. It so happened that in the late 1940s I was deep into legal biographies, and the lives of two English barristers had a profound influence on my future career.¹

    Patrick Hastings and Rufus Isaacs represented the finest standards of the English Bar, and I devoured not only their biographies but also books about their famous...

  12. 8 A New Career
    (pp. 91-109)

    There was a strong feeling at McGill in the 1950s that lawyers should develop their writing skills while still at law school. Therefore, as part of the course, each student had to write a mini-thesis on a topic assigned by the dean. However, permission could be requested to write on a different subject, provided a member of the faculty agreed to supervise the project. I had done well in criminal law — in fact, I got a prize for standing first in the subject — and I decided to approach Joseph Cohen, the legendary Montreal criminal lawyer, who had taught me criminal...

  13. 9 Insanity and Other Matters
    (pp. 110-117)

    more than fifteen years, the criminal assizes in Montreal were presided over by Justice Wilfrid Lazure, a quiet, ascetic-looking man with a broad knowledge of criminal law. He was stern yet not without compassion. I remember one case where he was about to sentence a young woman who, together with her brother, had pleaded guilty to a particularly vicious crime. He started with the brother and sentenced him to imprisonment for life. Their mother, who was in the courtroom, collapsed on hearing the sentence, and her daughter, distraught at the sight, screamedMa merè, ma mère.The scene visibly upset...

  14. 10 A Future Prime Minister
    (pp. 118-120)

    I first met Pierre Elliott Trudeau when he was a law professor at the Université de Montréal. The occasion was a party given by a mutual friend, Douglas Cohen and, to be perfectly frank, I was much more interested in Pierre’s date, a very attractive young woman, than in Pierre.

    The second time we met was a year or two later, but this time the circumstances were different. The date was 20 May 1960, and the time was 2:30 P.M. The place was what was then called the New Court House, on rue Notre Dame in Old Montreal.¹ This building...

  15. 11 To Be Hanged by the Neck
    (pp. 121-132)

    In 1955, when I was called to the Bar, there was only one kind of murder and the punishment for murder was death. In later years, when the tide started to turn against capital punishment, the law in Canada began to differentiate, first between capital murder and non-capital murder, and later between first-degree murder and second-degree murder. But in the 1950s and early 1960s, there was a real chance that an accused charged with murder would end up on the gallows. Of course, the crown, in appropriate cases, had the option of reducing the charge from murder to manslaughter; however,...

  16. 12 St Vincent de Paul
    (pp. 133-142)

    Spring did not come gently in 1963 to Montreal’s ancient penitentiary. Overcrowded, primitive, devoid of modern facilities, St Vincent de Paul, on the north shore of the mighty St Lawrence, housed some of Canada’s most dangerous convicts. Killers, robbers, and rapists filled the cells in the old stone buildings, frequently two to a room barely sufficient for one. Fights, often fatal, were frequent, discipline was tough, and access by inmates to seek relief in the courts was not encouraged by the authorities. The air was tense, and the pent-up resentment was about to erupt.

    On 30 April two prisoners, inspired...

  17. 13 Of Heart Transplants and Other Things
    (pp. 143-150)

    Some years ago, in giving judgment in a contract case,¹ Justice Casey, speaking for the Quebec Court of Appeal, examined the facts and found that, at a certain point, the plaintiff had had a ‘change of heart.’ problem there, but the headnotes in the Quebec Law Reports are published in French, so the judgment was sent to a translator and when finally appeared in print it told the story of a plaintiff who had undergone atransplantation de coeur,a heart transplant. Although somewhat amusing, no great damage was done, and it demonstrates the potential pitfalls of translation.

    There are,...

  18. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  19. 14 The Tax That Wasn’t
    (pp. 151-156)

    Most cases start with a phone call and this was no exception. The caller was the deputy attorney general of Quebec, and he found me in Montreal’s ancient Bordeaux Jail, where I had gone to interview a client. The date was 30 April 1968. It was mid-morning. Could I be in Quebec City later that day to meet with the attorney general? he asked. I said I could, and he arranged for transportation — the attorney general’s Buick with a provincial policeman as driver. I saw my client in jail and then returned to my office, curious to know what the...

  20. 15 The Computer Riot
    (pp. 157-164)

    Judge Emmett J. McManamy thought that it was ‘the work of experienced activists’² Angry Conservatives and Creditistes blamed the attack on ‘everyone from French Communists to Black Power Radicals Chinese Maoists.’³ Others thought that the violence was but the climax of ‘the frustration that the Brothers experienced for nearly a year.’⁴

    Whatever the catalyst, the destruction of the Sir George Williams University Computer Centre on 11 February 1969 shocked the community. No one believed that this could happen in Montreal. And, of all places, at Sir George’s, a university that had its roots in adult education, an institution that often...

  21. 16 McGill Français
    (pp. 165-169)

    The handbills said McGILL FRANÇAIS —manifestation — 28 mars — 8hrs Carré St-Louis.The year was 1969, and Montreal was scared. Bombs planted by terrorists had already exploded in buildings and letterboxes; two persons were dead and many were injured. Then, on 11 February 1969, a group of students, aided by outsiders, had ransacked and destroyed the Computer Centre at Sir George Williams University in Montreal. The city was nervous and so was McGill.

    Early ‘intelligence’ — in non-police language we would say reports from informers and infiltrators — indicated that the march on McGill would be violent. The plan, it seems was for...

  22. 17 Apprehended Insurrection
    (pp. 170-184)

    It is difficult to recreate, more than three decades later, the atmosphere that existed in Quebec at the time of the October Crisis of 1970. In retrospect, it is tempting to say that the federal government overreacted. Certainly, the facts as we know them today seem to indicate that ‘apprehended insurrection’ was not as great a threat as the federal cabinet believed, but that is history with 20:20 hindsight. To understand fully the situation, one had to be there, and if the imposition of the War Measures Act sounds harsh today — and it was — I recall, for those who may...

  23. 18 The Art of Cross-Examination
    (pp. 185-193)

    Cross-examination is an advocate’s most powerful tool. It can make or break a case, and in the hands of a skilful examiner a witness who is less than candid will soon be exposed. Of course, the law takes certain precautions to encourage the truth, such as an oath or affirmation, but as we all know, fear of punishment in the hereafter is not always a sufficient incentive to make a witness speak the truth.

    In Quebec a solemn affirmation in lieu of an oath is a recent addition to the law. When I started practice in 1955, it still happened...

  24. 19 Some Personal Notes
    (pp. 194-207)

    In the early 1960s, to add a little spice to life, my friend Seymour Machlovitch and I decided that we should learn to fly. I don’t recall what gave us the idea, but once the plan was hatched, we signed up for a course at Laurentide Aviation at the old Cartierville Airport in the north end of Montreal. ‘When can we start?’ we asked the man at the counter, and he said, ‘Right now.’ And so, a few minutes later, I climbed into the pilot’s seat of a very small Cessna 150, with my instructor, Phil Rogers, on my right....

  25. 20 Politics
    (pp. 208-215)

    I first became involved in politics in the summer of 1945, when John Bassett, the owner of the SherbrookeRecord,returned from service overseas to contest the Sherbrooke riding for the Conservatives in the federal election. The whole staff was recruited (I had a part-time job) and while I don't recall what we did, it seemed like fun and it whetted my appetite. Bassett won the advance poll — the first one to be counted — but after that it was all downhill as the results were tabulated throughout the evening.

    When I moved to theStar,I frequently was assigned to...

  26. 21 The Bench
    (pp. 216-233)

    In 1971 the provincial government decided to increase the number of judges of the Quebec Court of Appeal from twelve to fifteen. Two of the new judges would be assigned to Montreal, the third to Quebec City. The proposed increase came at a time when I had begun to ask myself, ‘Where do I go from here?’ I had just completed two long and complicated jury trials, the aftermath of the destruction of the Computer Centre at Sir George Williams University. Then, within weeks, I found myself prosecuting a series of cases arising from the imposition of the War Measures...

  27. 22 Return to Practice
    (pp. 234-252)

    With Donna's ever-increasing involvement in business through her law practice and corporate boards, I started to take a greater interest in business affairs, and I began to read many of the current books and journals on the subject. We were in the wild 19805 - merger mania, acquisitions, junk bonds, and more - and I realized that some formal training in the field would be of value.]]

    Early in 1987 I saw an advertisement for an Executive MBA program at Concordia University in Montreal. It was geared for 'mature' students and it sounded just right for me. I made an...

  28. 23 Guy paul Morin
    (pp. 253-275)

    About a year before we moved to Toronto, my good friend Alan B. Gold, the former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court, gave my to the attorney general of Ontario as someone who should be considered for appointment to a royal commission that the province planned to set up. The task of the commission would be to inquire into and why an innocent person, Guy Paul Morin, came to be convicted on a charge of first-degree murder. Alan thought that my lifelong professional involvement with criminal law well qualified me for position. A few weeks later, I was asked...

  29. 24 Nova Scotia
    (pp. 276-287)

    In 1990, as a result of the findings of the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr. Prosecution,¹ Nova Scotia became the first — and so the only — Canadian province to create by statute an independent Public Prosecution Service (PPS). It was an attempt to separate criminal prosecutions from the day-to-day control of the attorney general’s office, and thereby remove the ever-present suspicion (in Nova Scotia, at least) that political pressure was sometimes applied to influence the course of a case.

    Donald Marshall, Jr was a Mi’kmaq Indian who was convicted of a murder he didn’t commit and for which he...

  30. 25 Four More Investigations
    (pp. 288-306)

    The first of the two Nova Scotia inquiries had barely begun when I accepted a task which took me into uncharted waters. In early 1998 Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) of Canada expressed concerns that poor labour/management and management/management relations in the Nuclear Division of Ontario Hydro (OHN) might ultimately affect the safety of operations in the province’s three nuclear plants. The timely implementation of Ontario Hydro’s nuclear-recovery plan, directed by a group of American nuclear engineers brought for the purpose a short time before, was also put in doubt. After discussions with Hydro executives, the decision was reached to...

  31. 26 The Truscott Case
    (pp. 307-318)

    Canada’sGlobe and Mailcalled it ‘the case that haunts the Canadian imagination.’¹ And so it does. Truscott’s innocence or guilt has been debated in the courts, in books, by the press, in a movie, and on television. In her book on the Truscott case, Isabel Le Bourdais asked, Where was justice when Steven was convicted?’² and journalist Bill Trent had no doubt whatever: ‘He is innocent. I am convinced of it.’3 Now, as of 2005, the case is back in the judicial system. It is, in short, the that will not go away.

    It all goes back to 1959....

  32. Epilogue
    (pp. 319-324)

    I turned eighty in May 2004. My wife and children marked the occasion with a splendid black-tie dinner in Toronto. It was a moving event, outpouring of love and affection, expressed with an eloquence that I cannot match.

    Donna went first:

    Fred has not always done things at what might be considered an age appropriate time.

    He left home at 15.

    He married at 43.

    He earned an MBA at 69.

    At 80, he is arguably more engaged and stimulated — and, perhaps, happier — than at any other time in his life.

    When my father passed away, I was 23 and...

  33. Notes
    (pp. 325-344)
  34. Index
    (pp. 345-360)
  35. Back Matter
    (pp. 361-363)