Ian Mulgrew: Law Society of B.C. to seek more appropriate icon

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Three years ago, the law society removed Begbie’s statue from the foyer of its Vancouver building and eliminated other hallmarks such as the little bronze “Begbies” that honour a “lifetime contribution of the truly exceptional in the legal profession” and changing “Begbie” as the code word used to trigger safety procedures.

Berger and Foster said the original decision was based on a flawed report about the colonial judge.

Retired Chief Justice Lance Finch has written a paper questioning the report’s findings and calling for a renewed assessment of Begbie’s work.

The benchers did not consult the membership before making the 2017 decision but recognized many lawyers would disagree with it.

New Westminster last year removed a statue of Begbie from outside the city’s courthouse but three mountains, two lakes, a creek, an elementary school, streets and other sites across B.C. still bear his name.

“The bencher’s decision was made without regard to the simple facts of the case,” Berger said in proposing the resolution.

“The removal of Begbie’s statue was a dramatic gesture by the benchers that was understood to be a considered rejection of Begbie and all that he stood for. This is regrettable.”

Foster added: “As is the case with all of us, he made mistakes. But he was not the man portrayed in the (society’s) report.”

They emphasized a colonial judge was “not the right symbol for B.C.’s legal profession in the 21st century,” but his memory should be set right.

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