LAO newsroom

2013 Sidney B. Linden award goes to Kingston lawyer Fergus J. (Chip) O’Connor

Monday, October 21, 2013

KINGSTON – On November 27, 2013, this year’s recipient of Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)’s Sidney B. Linden award, Fergus J. (Chip) O’Connor, will be honoured at a ceremony at Queen’s University.

Chip O'Connor

Chip O'Connor

“This award recognizes Chip’s dedication to providing legal services to prisoners at every level of the courts, often pro bono,” says LAO’s Board Chair John McCamus. “These are individuals who are normally ostracized and have no resources at all. In speaking for the incarcerated, Chip’s contribution to our justice system has been huge — from the students who have taken his courses in our law schools, to the criminal lawyers he has mentored, to the country’s top judges who have heard his arguments all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Mr. O’Connor graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1972. He was called to the bar in 1974, and opened his practice in Kingston a year later. A founding member of the Canadian Prison Lawyers Association and the Ontario Prison Lawyers Association, Mr. O’Connor has successfully advocated, to the Supreme Court of Canada, every prisoner’s right to vote. His arguments also compelled the Supreme Court to confirm that Gladue principles apply to long-term offenders when he argued on the sentencing principles affecting Aboriginal prisoners and breech of long-term supervision, pursuant to the Ipeelee case.

“Fergus J. (Chip) O’Connor’s compassion for prisoners in the federal penitentiary system over the past 35 years, his commitment to mentoring and teaching others, and his dedication to making the laws in this country inclusive for all make him an ideal winner of Legal Aid Ontario’s Sidney B. Linden Award.”

— Aly Alibhai, Chair of the 2013 Award Selection Committee

Mr. O’Connor was Director of the Correctional Law Project at Queen's Law School from 1981 to 1985, taught criminal law at the Native Law Centre in Saskatchewan in 1985, and has also lectured throughout Canada and the United States. He also wrote Halsbury’s Laws of Canada Penitentiaries, Jails and Prisoners, as well as numerous articles.

The ceremony will be hosted by Queen’s law faculty Dean Bill Flanagan.

About the award

LAO’s Sidney B. Linden award recognizes exceptional individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to helping low-income Ontarians in the pursuit of access to justice. The award has been presented to seven recipients: Fergus J. (Chip) O’Connor, Peter G. Kirby, Michael Bossin, Barbara Jackman, J. Robert Kellermann, Paul Copeland, and the late Dianne Martin.


For questions or further information, please contact:

Kristian Justesen
Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations Group
Phone: 416-979-2352, ext.4782
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