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Remembering a Great Legal Scholar and a Treasured Colleague

February 5, 2020
Today, we mourn the loss of one of Canada’s great legal minds. Peter Hogg, a treasured member of the Canadian legal community and Blakes Scholar in Residence since the early 1990s, passed away on February 4 at the age of 80. 

Peter is widely regarded as Canada’s foremost constitutional scholar. Most law students in Canada learned constitutional law from his seminal textbook on the subject, and his expertise extended to textbooks on trusts, tax and liability of the Crown. 

During his more than 50 years of scholarship and counsel, Peter bridged the worlds of academia and legal practice. He was sought after by governments, corporate clients, judges and colleagues.

There have been few Canadian constitutional matters in modern times that have not involved Peter, either publicly or confidentially. He was involved in key cases and mandates such as the Meech Lake Accord, the Charlottetown Accord, the Anti-Inflation Act, Manitoba language rights, Ontario separate school funding, as well as the same-sex marriage, national securities regulator and Trans Mountain pipeline references, and appeared as counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada on many of them. When Stephen Harper’s government decided to conduct a Supreme Court of Canada nominee hearing, they turned to Peter to be the independent and well-respected counsel to assist the committee. Peter has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in its rulings more than any other legal scholar, and by a wide margin.

He was publicly honoured countless times, including being made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991 and then promoted to Companion (the highest level) of the Order of Canada in 2003. He was Queen’s Counsel, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the recipient of teaching awards, honorary doctorates and the Law Society Medal. 

Born in New Zealand in 1939, Peter practised law briefly with his father before pursuing an academic path. He earned a master of laws from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in law from Melbourne’s Monash University. In 1970, Peter moved to Canada to teach constitutional law at Osgoode Hall Law School and eventually became dean of Osgoode from 1998-2003. As dean, he focused on enhancing diversity in the faculty and raised almost C$11-million for student financial aid. In 2003, he became the full-time Scholar in Residence at Blakes.

Universally loved by students and colleagues alike for his wisdom, grace and humour, Peter was a friend and mentor to many. He ran panels, held lectures, judged the Wilson Moot and spoke at client and student recruitment events. 

Peter befriended staff, students and lawyers across all offices and practice areas at Blakes. He was also a trusted advisor, offering advice to colleagues and clients on their thorniest issues.

Peter Hogg was a truly great man, and he will be missed.

Messages of condolence can be left here.