A celebration of Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes book cover

On Wednesday, February 7, more than 150 people participated in an animated conversation with BC's most distinguished public-sector jurist, Ted Hughes QC, on his remarkable career in the pursuit of law in the public interest. 

Hughes was interviewed by CBC journalist Laura Lynch (herself a graduate of UVic Law in 1988). The event was opened by our special guest the Hon David Eby QC, Attorney-General of BC, and closed by our equally special guest Maureen Maloney QC, Professor at SFU, former Deputy Attorney-General of BC, and former Dean of Law at UVic – indeed the first woman to be appointed dean of a law school in BC.

Ted Hughes has had a long career defending the vulnerable and fighting corruption. After 18 years as a judge in Saskatchewan, Hughes moved to BC and was appointed Deputy Attorney General in 1983. He became BC's first Conflict-of-Interest Commissioner in 1990. He conducted investigations that led to the resignation of former Premier Bill Vander Zalm, the establishment of The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth, and a reconsideration of how police should handle major protests. He was one of the first government officials to seek justice for residential school survivors. He has recently “partially” retired at the age of 90.

Craig McInnes has published a fine biography of Hughes, which you can find here. Hughes’ friends and admirers have established a fund in honour of Ted and Helen Hughes at the Victoria Foundation, which the Hughes have decided to devote to a Diversity Entrance Scholarship at UVic Law. You can contribute through this link, specifying the “Ted Hughes Fund” in the comments box. The fund now stands in excess of $10,000. If we can raise it to $25,000, its interest will support a scholarship in Ted’s name in perpetuity.

Ted Hughes

The February 7 event was lovely. We explored many aspects of Hughes’ career – though with a career as rich and diverse as his, there were many corners still to be explored. Ted’s wife Helen and many friends were present, as were many of Ted’s colleagues from his time in government.

UVic Law has had a long and close relationship with lawyers in government. Those ties include a path-breaking term-long course in public law – the Public Law Term – which has not been offered for many years (we will have to change that!) but which Laura Lynch herself had done as a student. They include many connections related to student careers, including a host of co-op and articling placements with the government, often leading to our graduates pursuing careers in the public service. Our flagship legal clinic, the Law Centre, is now co-located with a Justice Access Centre in the Victoria courthouse.

There have been many, many, links between the faculty and public policy in BC over the years. To take just a few indices, one of our deans (Maureen Maloney) served as Deputy Attorney General (the same position occupied by Hughes for much of his career); another (Andrew Petter, also attending on February 7) served as Attorney General; another (Bill Neilson) served as Deputy Minister of Consumer Services. The founding Director of our new Access to Justice Centre for Excellence (ACE) is Jerry McHale QC, who came to us in 2011 after a distinguished career in the BC government, including ten years as Assistant Deputy Minister.

The many contributions of Ted Hughes QC will no doubt inspire others to follow such a remarkable example of the public-spirited practice of law. It was marvellous to celebrate Hughes’ long and varied career.