October 8, 2013 – Andrew Petter

Andrew Petter-1ANDREW PETTER

Born in 1953, Mr. Petter was raised in Victoria and Nelson, where he graduated from his secondary school as class valedictorian. He attended Nelson’s former Notre Dame University and in the early 1970’s he was briefly an open-line radio host where he got his first taste of politics while interviewing the likes of newly elected premier, Dave Barrett and former premier, W.A.C. Bennett.  At age 19, he was asked to serve as executive assistant to local MLA Lorne Nicolson.  In 1976, Mr. Petter went to the University of Victoria to study political science. He entered the law programme in 1978 and graduated top of his class, winning the Law Society of BC Gold Medal, in 1981. He went on to earn an LL.M (Public Law) with first-class honours from Cambridge University.

After briefly practising law in Saskatchewan, Mr. Petter became an assistant professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in 1984 and joined the UVic Faculty of Law in 1986. He has taught and written extensively in the areas of Constitutional Law and Public Policy including works on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian federalism. He is currently a member of both the BC and Saskatchewan Law Societies.

After 5 years at UVic, Mr. Petter won the NDP seat as MLA for Saanich South in the 1991 provincial election.  He spent the next decade as an MLA and held a series of key cabinet posts, as follows: Minister of Aboriginal Affairs; Forests; Health; Finance and Corporate Relations; Advanced Education, Training and Technology; and Intergovernmental Relations. He also held the post as the Minister Responsible for Seniors. He concluded his political career as Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Human Rights.  Throughout this period, Mr. Petter was involved in numerous aspects of government from the Nisga’a treaty negotiations to developing a network of popular walking, running and cycling trails stretching from Sooke to Victoria and on to Sidney.

In 2001, Mr. Petter returned to UVic to resume his teaching career, going on to become the Acting Dean and later, Dean of the Faculty of Law. He was the first graduate of the school to serve in that position, which he did from 2002 until 2008.  During his tenure, the faculty created a new interdisciplinary graduate programme to deliver the Akitsiraq Law School for Inuit students in Nunavut. He also founded a new National Aboriginal Economic Development Chair which resulted in an increase in the number of Aboriginal students in the faculty, to more than 8% of the student body.

Mr. Petter received an Honorary Citizen Award from the City of Victoria in 2002 and UVic’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2003. In 2008, he was awarded a residency as visiting scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation Centre in Bellagio, Italy.

Mr. Petter spends his leisure time running, cycling, reading and attending theatre, opera and movies with his life partner, Maureen Maloney.  He is a fan of political biography and he has a passion for Marx Brothers and Frank Capra films.  His son, Dylan, is currently pursuing graduate studies in England.

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