Saturday, December 27, 2014

Farewell to Eddie Greenspan

I see Eddie Greenspan, one of Canada’s most well-known criminal lawyers, died on Wednesday. He was an excellent and joyous criminal lawyer, devoted to the abolition of capital punishment and putting the criminal justice system to the strictest of proofs.

I met him on one or two occasions (fortunately never in his professional capacity), but what I really remember about him is how he solved one of the great legal cases of our time that involved my parents.

Back in the 1980s my parents spent every New Years Eve with a motley crew of politicians, pollsters and advertising people. It was generally held at the home of the late, great Senator Keith Davey, who was my father’s long-time best friend. Regulars also included Martin Goldfarb, the pioneer political pollster, Terry O’Malley, head of Vickers & Benson advertising, and various other people who played in the public arena. The evenings had very little drinking involved (my father never touched the stuff) but a lot of party games, culminating in the “Canada Cup”.

The Canada Cup was the world’s ugliest trophy. Bought at Honest Ed’s as a deformed plaster lawn ornament, spray painted gold and with a little Canadian flag stuck on it, the Canada Cup was awarded to the person who made the most accurate predictions about the top events of the future year. Predictions were collected from everyone on New Year’s Eve on a variety of topics and sealed in envelopes to be opened a year later. My father was up against some of the most sophisticated public opinion pollsters and politicians in Canada, and year after year the hideous Canada Cup graced our dining room as dad beat them all in predicting the top events of the upcoming year.

One year, the winner of the Canada Cup was in dispute over the subjective interpretation of an answer. Not being able to decide a clear winner, Keith Davey said the only solution was to refer it to the legal system. He asked his pal Eddie Greenspan to hear the case.

Apparently Eddie showed up at a mock solemn gathering of the disputed parties, wearing his full court robes, and listened to each finalist argue their case as to why their answer was the correct one and why they deserved the much coveted Canada Cup. After hearing their arguments, Eddie delivered his judgment and one party went home with the world’s ugliest trophy and bragging rights for the ensuing year. There was no appeal to the Supreme Court.

Others will remember Eddie as a great criminal lawyer. I’ll always remember him as the Solomon who settled the great Canada Cup dispute (without charging a fee).