2009 Fredericton Convocation

Petrie, J. Gordon

Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)

Orator: Mason, Gordon


to be Doctor of Laws

Gordon Petrie was born in Montreal and entered UNB as a Beaverbrook Scholar in 1958, thus beginning a long association with this university. After graduating with a B.A. he continued into Law, graduating with the Lieutenant-Governor’s silver medal in 1964. He completed his university education by obtaining a masters of laws degree from the University of Michigan the following year.

Gordon Petrie has been a partner in several law firms in Fredericton over the years and is currently a senior partner in Stewart McKelvey. He has appeared before all levels of courts in New Brunswick, before the Supreme Court of Canada, and at various federal and provincial administrative tribunals and arbitration boards. His specialty is labour and employment law and it is said that his hand can be seen in virtually every significant case and piece of legislation in New Brunswick in these areas over the past 30 years.

For the past 35 years Gordon has been the University Solicitor for UNB, acting often in matters of employment law, but in a wide range of other matters as well such as issues involving property, construction, copyright, human rights, and pensions. He has thus acquired a second area of expertise, and in fact he was a founding member of the Canadian Association of University Solicitors. His success at UNB can perhaps be measured not by the number of court cases won but rather by way his expert advice and negotiating skills have avoided the need to proceed to court at all. He is known as tough but fair with the ability to listen carefully and probe deeply. His fierce loyalty to UNB can produce sometimes colourful language but he also frequently displays a dry wit to balance any heated discussion. One adversary commented to a Petrie family member that they felt quite intimidated when facing Gordon. The family
member replied with surprise, saying that really he was just a teddy bear. The reply came back "Yes, perhaps, but then he must be a grizzly teddy bear!"

Gordon was made a Queen's Counsel in 1984 and has served on a wide variety of committees of the law Society of New Brunswick, as well as the Canadian Human Rights Appeal Tribunal. He has lectured at UNB, and is a member of the Advisory Panel of the Canadian Law & Employment Law Journal. One of his most prestigious honours was to be one of the first Fredericton lawyers to be invited to be a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Gordon has been a generous supporter of UNB and in particular our faculty of law, both as an individual and as a leader in his firm.

Although Gordon is partial to a game of golf now and then, he shows little interest in retirement. The law and his family are his two main loves, followed by his fondness for "double doubles." He is a current affairs junkie, revelling in the give and take of debate on the issues of the day.

UNB is proud to honour one of our own graduates who has given exemplary service both to his profession and to this university.

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