BC Cancer Fundraising

July 24, 2015

B35C2X Lights of Courage in honour of cancer patients Victoria British Columbia Canada

B35C2X Lights of Courage in honour of cancer patients Victoria British Columbia Canada

The Victoria Dragon Boat Festival Society raises money annually for the BC Cancer Foundation and has been doing so for about six years. Almost $600,000 has been raised over this time with much of that coming from its Lights of Courage campaign.

I was on CFAX this morning talking about Lights of Courage which launches today.

Visit the link below and fast forward to about 51:30 minutes to learn more.


December 17, 2014

This is a neat test of intelligence. Feel free to email me your answers if you wish!


In today’s Globe and Mail there is an article about a memorial that has been built in honour of those passengers who died on Air Canada flight 621. It made me reflect on a story my dad once told me.

Back in the 1960’s he was doing a fair bit of travel to Asia including China, Hong Kong and Japan. On one business trip to Hong Kong he had finished up work a day early and was scheduled to fly out on the afternoon of the following day. He scheduled a sightseeing tour for that morning in order to burn time.

The next morning he woke up and felt a cold coming on. In addition to this, he was never one to just hang around on business trips – he liked to get home. So these two things prompted him to phone his travel agent and ask her to move him to an earlier flight. She did so. I’m very thankful.

Without that call I wouldn’t exist.

She moved him to an earlier flight, he flew home and turned on the news. The news was full of stories about Canadian Pacific Airlines flight 402 which had crashed on approach to Japan’s Tokyo International Airport. Only eight passengers survived.

My dad was originally scheduled on that flight which began in Hong Kong and was routed through Tokyo to Vancouver.

Generally speaking I am a firm believer that we make our own good fortune.

But at the end of all this I’ve concluded that luck does play a role in our lives.

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry on the crash:


I have a fascination with the forensics of plane crashes. I’m a big fan of National Geographic’s Air Crash Investigation television series.

Ric Elias’ five minute TED Talk was about the three things he learned as a passenger aboard the US Airways flight 1549 that was ditched in the Hudson River in 2009.

Enjoy this five minute vignette.

I had the honour of thanking Kim Campbell for a fireside chat hosted by the UBC Faculty of Law. Check out the video below for her speech. She’s funny, entertaining, well spoken and has had some great experiences since leaving Canadian government.

A personal post – thanks for indulging me.

My father passed away on September 23rd, 2010.

I was very close to him – he was my friend, my mentor, my advisor and, most importantly, he was my dad.

At every juncture in my life he was right there with me assisting with both personal and professional matters.   In fact, even from his hospital bed he was right there with me providing advice.  He was able to be a great dad while also being successful professionally.

A number of years ago I wanted to do something to thank him for all that he has done for me.  The result of that is the J. Donald Mawhinney QC Lectureship in Legal Ethics and Professionalism at UBC’s Faculty of Law.  This was created not “by” my father but “for” my father by his friends, family, law partners and clients.

He didn’t know we were doing this for him until most of the money was raised and we were ready to launch.  In fact, when we told him what we were doing he insisted that we stop it in its tracks.  He explained that his generation of lawyers viewed their role as simply providing the best advice for their clients. They did not look for big paydays or for their name in lights.

Fortunately, I was able to convince him how important it was to me to do this as a thanks.

I had the privilege of attending the fifth annual lecture last November with Mr. Justice Pope of Ontario’s Superior court.  I think this was one of the best lectures so far.  Mr. Justice Pope tied together the trend toward mega-trials in the Canadian court system to the ethical and professional conduct of both defense and crown counsel. Even interesting for a non-lawyer like me.

This post is not only about my appreciation for all that my dad did for me. It is also about catharsis because it’s good to talk (and write) about one’s sadness. Finally it is about about the importance of legacies.

What I didn’t understand when I was forming this lecture series was that it would not only memorialize my father but it would also give me an opportunity to celebrate him at least once annually.  It’s odd, but I felt like he was there with me and with all of us during the last lecture.

The natural course of life is to lose one’s parents.  This fact doesn’t make it any easier.

My advice is that as you go through your life be sure to do things that will help you remember your parents when they are gone.  Do things that help you remember their voice, their mannerisms, their smile, their laugh and their supportive touch.  Celebrate their successes when they are alive and be sure to have things that help you remember them when they’re gone.

I miss him, but he’ll always be with me.

Thanks Dad.

Stephen Toope

June 27, 2011

The University of British Columbia has had great leadership over the years. This is one reason why it is consistently moving up the world wide rankings of post secondary institutions.

Martha Piper was widely recognized as having done a great job for UBC and many were of the view that her successor Stephen Toope had very big shoes to fill. I’ve long been of the view that he’s not only filled them, but he’s taken this great university to a whole new level. His commitment to the student experience ($25 million investment in a new Alma Mater Society building for them), his commitment to alumni through UBC’s investment in our new Alumni Centre (www.alumnicentre.ubc.ca), his ability to recruit top talent like Pierre Ouillet, Stephen Owen and Barbara Miles and keep great talent such as Brian Sullivan and others are are testament to his leadership.

Now, with this little diddy below he shows a “softer” side of leadership. Here is the president of one of BC’s biggest employers up on stage entertaining the crowd.

Terrific stuff, Professor Toope!