Former Law Dean Appointed Governor-General

The Prime Minister has announced that the next Governor-General, who will replace HE Michaelle Jean on Oct. 1, 2010, is David Johnston.

Johnston has two LL.B. degrees, one from Cambridge (1965) and another from Queen’s (1966). He is currently the President of the University of Waterloo. In 1997, he was appointed a companion of the Order of Canada.

But one of the more interesting points of his career is when he served as the Dean of the law school at the University of Western Ontario, my alma mater, between 1974-1979. In an e-mail to our law school community the current Dean of UWO Law, Ian Holloway, shared,

David is an extraordinary person, with an amazing ability to inspire people. Those who were here when he was dean will tell you that it was one of the golden times in our history. I can believe it, for even though I arrived only after he was long gone, he very quickly befriended me, and he’s been a constant source of advice and counsel since. We’ll be lucky indeed to have him as the Queen’s representative.


  1. On CBC this morning mentioned that one of his “selling points” is his understanding of constitutional issues, which would be helpful if we end up with a minority government again after the next election.

  2. Well David is a great law teacher and a wonderful university administrator but his publications show depth in securities and in the policy issues surrounding the Internet, but nothing on the constitution, except for a post-referendum piece on the economics of separation.

    He has been a real pioneer in legal information and the application of computers to the law, editing Computers and the Law, Conference Proceedings back in 1968 for Queen’s.

    His book on Canadian Securities Regulation has gone through four editions. Here is the rest of what’s on the databases:

    Exemption from Sales Disclosure in Regular Financial Statements: Courts, Tribunals, and Business Judgments University of Toronto Law Journal, Vol. 23, Issue 2 (Spring 1973), pp. 215-245
    Preface McGill Law Journal, Vol. 36, Issue 3 (1991), pp. 737-741
    Public Offering Companies and Non-Public Offering Companies under the Ontario Business Coporations Act, 1970 Ottawa Law Review, Vol. 5, Issue 1 (1971), pp. 1-31
    Law at McGill: Past, Present and Future McGill Law Journal, Vol. 27, Issue 1 (1981), pp. 31-46
    Transfer of Investment Securities-Some Current Proposals Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 10, Issue 1 (August 1972), pp. 191-198
    New Mechanics for Securities Transactions University of Toronto Law Journal, Vol. 21, Issue 3 (Autumn 1971), pp. 336-377
    Johnston, David L. “Law and learning.” McGill Law Journal 28.4 (1983):
    “Computer Law.” Canadian Business Law Journal 30.2 (1998): 314-320.
    Preparing Canada for a digital world : final report of the Information Highway Advisory Council. 1997 Information Highway Advisory Council (Canada)
    Préparer le Canada au monde numérique : rapport final du Comité consultatif sur l’autoroute de l’information. Canada. Comité consultatif sur l’autoroute de l’information. 1997
    Cyberlaw : what you need to know about doing business online / David Johnston, Sunny Handa, Charles Morgan. 1997
    Connection, community, content : the challenge of the information highway : final report of the Information Highway Advisory Council.
    Canada. Information Highway Advisory Council. 1995
    Canadian companies and the stock exchanges / by Robert E. Forbes and David L. Johnston.
    “The Challenges of the Information Highway”, Corporate Governance and the New Competition, Ed. J. De la Mothe and G. Paquet, Faculty of Administration, University of Ottawa, 1996.
    Cyberlaw with Sunny Handa and Charles Morgan, Toronto: Stoddart Press, 1997. 282 pages
    Getting Canada OnLine: Understanding the Information Highway with Deborah Johnston and Sunny Handa, Toronto: Stoddart Press, 1995. 278 pages
    If Quebec Goes … The Real Cost of Separation with Marcel Côté, Toronto: Stoddart Press, 1995. 237 pages
    Halsbury’s Laws of Canada, Communications, 1st Edition with Sunny Handa, Richard Janda, and Charles Morgan, Toronto, LexisNexis, 435 pages

  3. I’m not certain that a strong stance on constitutional issues for a Governor-General would be an asset to this PM. In my opinion, of course.

  4. I think he’s a terrific appointment but don’t understand why he would want the job. He travels as much as he wants now, gives as many speeches as he wants, and actually makes things happen that matter to people, and to the country. The GG is purely ceremonial, except of course in a constitutional pinch – but we have not had many of those in our history, even if we have had a couple in the past couple of years…

    I guess after more than ten years at UW, he may be looking for a change, and not need the money, but still. Worse than being a judge, to my mind.