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Archie Campbell, 65 Add to ...

An eccentric dresser who wore Greb boots in the courtroom, a fanatical canoe tripper, a dedicated declaimer of Virgil and Marcus Aurelius - in the vernacular - and a man who was known to take a drink, Archie Campbell lived life fully and made sure that those around him enjoyed it too. He was also an outstanding jurist and public-policy analyst.

"He meant so much to me and to the whole legal world," said Roy McMurtry, Chief Justice of Ontario and a friend and colleague for half a century.

After a long legal career, including serving as a Superior Court judge in Ontario, Judge Campbell headed commissions into the conduct of the Paul Bernardo investigation and the SARS outbreak, two highly contentious public issues with wide-ranging public policy implications.

"He did an outstanding job [of the Bernardo review]and made recommendations that are not only followed to this day, but will be for decades to come," said Patrick LeSage, former chief justice of Ontario, who presided over the Bernardo trial. "I don't think anybody questions that he got it right. His biggest supporters are the police, whose policies he recommended changing because of the shortcomings in communications and major case management, and that sort of thing."

Judge Campbell's friendships were as wide as they were deep. Journalist Michael Enright met him in the late 1960s. "He was extremely funny and I loved the way his mind ranged over so many different areas," Mr. Enright said. "He knew Greek history and poetry and he was an expert on the American Civil War. We would go away for a weekend to a cottage and wind up howling poetry at the moon."

Describing Judge Campbell as a big brown bear of a man with an "embracing" personality, Mr. Enright said he was also a great citizen who believed that people have a duty to do more than simply take up space in this world.

Archie Gray Campbell, the youngest of three children of advertising executive Robert McAlpine, an advertising executive and his wife Leona (born Gray) Campbell, an English-literature specialist, was born in Montreal during the Second World War, but grew up in Etobicoke, now part of Toronto. He went to Lambton-Kingsway elementary school and entered Grade 7 in the very early 1950s at the University of Toronto Schools, an academically elite boys school. At UTS, he met a group of other 12-year-old boys who became lifelong friends. One of them was Richard Pope, now a retired professor of Russian history and literature.

His friend always wanted to be a lawyer, Mr. Pope said. His favourite television character in the 1950s was Perry Mason, the defence lawyer-detective played by Raymond Burr, and he imagined himself becoming a second Clarence Darrow, the U.S. trial lawyer who defended teenaged killers Leopold and Loeb in 1924 and teacher John T. Scopes in the "monkey trial" of 1925.

In his last two years of high school, Judge Campbell worked summers as a process server for Benson, McMurtry, the firm where Chief Justice McMurtry was a partner. "I could tell in those days that Archie was a scholar. I seem to remember that he was president of his school's Greek and Latin club," Chief Justice McMurtry said. "It was wonderful that we hired him, because it was the beginning of a friendship that has been enormously important to me for almost 50 years."

After graduating from UTS in 1960, Mr. Campbell went to Trinity College at the University of Toronto, where he studied history and modern languages and, under the tutelage of Chief Justice McMurtry, worked for Frontier College teaching literacy and English-as-second-language skills in logging and hydro camps and with railway gangs in the summers.

At that time, U of T students had to do at least one year of physical education, but Judge Campbell, who hated sports and also had a subversive streak, ingeniously found a kinesiology research study and "got himself and me into the control group so we could get out of Phys. Ed," Mr. Pope said. "At the very end of the year, we both trained very hard and queered the results by doing much better than expected."

When Judge Campbell was in fourth year, his mother died of cancer, a huge loss that sent him into such a tailspin that he dropped out of university. He got back on track when he was allowed to enter Osgoode Hall Law School, based on his second-year marks from U of T. In 1967, he graduated with a bachelor's degree. The following year, he articled at Benson, McMurtry and Percival under criminal lawyer Arthur Martin, his Canadian legal hero, took the bar admission course in 1969 and immediately began working for the Ontario government as a prosecutor in the criminal appeals and special prosecutions section of the Ministry of the Attorney-General.

About this time, he met his first wife, administrator Judy Ireland. They had two children: Sarah Gray, a lawyer, and James (Hamish), a teacher. Married at the end of the 1960s, they separated 30 years later.

From 1969 until 1986, when the federal government appointed him a judge in the Supreme Court of Ontario, Judge Campbell worked for the Ontario government as a prosecutor and in developing public policy in a progressive legal environment that saw reforms in family law, succession law, children's law, making the court system bilingual and creating an independent agency to review citizens complaints against the police.

"It was a very interesting place to work because you are dealing with public law and criminal law," said Chief Justice McMurtry, who was attorney-general from 1975 to 1985. This was particularly so for Judge Campbell, because he "loved public service" and was very involved in developing public policy in many of these areas.

Judge Campbell took a year away in 1977-1978 to work as director of Parkdale Community Legal Services, a pioneer in providing legal aid to poor people, and to teach at Osgoode Hall, his alma mater.

But he returned to the Ontario government to serve successively as assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of the Attorney-General, deputy minister in Correctional Services, and then deputy minister to the Ian Scott (obituary Oct. 11, 2006) when he was attorney-general of Ontario.

From 1993 to 1996, Judge Campbell was regional senior justice of the Ontario Court (general division) for the Toronto Region. In 1995, he was asked to look into the botched police investigation of the abductions and murders of schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy by Paul Bernardo and his then-wife, Karla Homolka. He studied the court and police documents for four months and then produced a scathing report that documented systemic jurisdictional turf wars among the police forces in Toronto and the regions of Halton and Niagara investigating a string of nearly 20 brutal rapes in the Scarborough area of Toronto and the murders of the two girls in the St. Catharines area. He concluded that the investigation "was a mess from beginning to end."

Seven years later, the Ontario government, led by premier Ernie Eves, came to him again and asked him to conduct an independent investigation in the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak that struck Toronto in 2003 and eventually killed 44 people. His interim report, released in April of 2004, was a blistering indictment of the health-care system. "SARS showed Ontario's central public-health system to be unprepared, fragmented, poorly led, unco-ordinated, inadequately resourced, professionally impoverished and generally incapable of discharging its mandate."

Among its 21 proposals for improving the delivery of public health in Ontario, the report called for greater federal-provincial co-operation, better co-ordination and communications between hospitals and medical officials, more resources and training for nurses and a greater expenditure of research dollars. He insisted that Ontario needed to make fundamental changes in order to be better prepared to fight future epidemics.

"If it lacks the necessary political will," he wrote in his report, "it can tinker with the system, make a token investment and then wait for the death, sickness, suffering and economic disaster that will come with the next outbreak of disease."

He married Julie Poole, registrar of divisional court at Osgoode Hall on March 19, 2004. Three weeks before the wedding, Judge Campbell was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable disease in which the air sacs of the lungs become scarred with fibrotic tissue, making it increasingly difficult for the lungs to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream.

"My kids didn't know, his kids didn't know, and it was quite emotional, as the disease has no known cause and no known cure," Ms. Poole said yesterday. "We were married in Osgoode Hall by Roy McMurtry and I kept wondering if I was going to make it through the 'in sickness and in health' part," she said, but they did for three years of what, by all accounts, was an extremely happy marriage.

"The happiest five years of his life," Mr. Pope said.

Last November, when the Campbells were in Nashville for a family wedding, he became very ill and was airlifted back to Toronto and diagnosed with colon cancer. Even while battling two fatal diseases, the judge kept working on the final report of his report on the SARS commission. It was released in January.

On his 65th birthday last Friday, he learned he had finally made it onto the lung transplant list. Although he was extremely ill, he turned to his wife and said, "We are going to fight this." As his friend Mr. Poole said, "he coped brilliantly and heroically" with his illness.

Wednesday morning, unable to speak, he wrote a note in reply to a legal question from a colleague. Late that afternoon, lying in hospital with a copy of Marcus Aurelius's writings on his bedside table, he turned to his wife and said, "I've had enough. I can't do this any more."

Archie Gray Campbell was born in Montreal on April 13, 1942. He died in Toronto of pulmonary fibrosis at Toronto General Hospital on April 17, 2007. He was 65. Predeceased by his brother Duncan, he is survived by his wife Julie, two children, three stepchildren, three grandchildren, his sister Jennifer, his former wife Judy and his extended family. A private family service is planned. There will be a public memorial at a later date.

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