Jane Morley, interviewed by Kyla Fitzgerald, 29 September 2016

Jane Morley, interviewed by Kyla Fitzgerald, 29 September 2016

Abstract
In this interview, Jane Morley shares her memories of her father, Andrew Brewin, a politician and lawyer who worked with the Co-operative Committee on Japanese Canadians (CCJC) in the 1940’s. Jane discusses her father’s work and political career as well as how Brewin started working with the CCJC. Furthermore, she shares what Brewin was like as a father and outlines some of the issues that were most important to him in his career. Jane also talks about Brewin’s early life, how he became a lawyer, and some of his career highlights. Finally, we discuss Jane’s career as a lawyer, what motivated her to study law, her work as a Commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and finally, her thoughts on the Japanese-Canadian internment.
00:00:00.000
Kyla Fitzgerald (KF)
Alright so today is September 29, 2016 and I’m sitting here with Jane Morley. And we’re at the University of Victoria, one of the study rooms, to conduct a Landscapes of Injustice interview, so thanks so much!
Jean Morley (JM)
You’re welcome.
KF
And the reason why we’re here today is because of your father, Andrew Brewin, and so I would love to just start off with maybe if you could just talk about who he was and some of the work that he did?
JM
Okay well he was a lawyer and he was also a politician for – for most of his career he worked as a lawyer and he did a lot of different types of cases, but he was a litigator and he did a lot of constitutional work. And in the latter part his career, I guess he did immigration work and he ran for Parliament many times and was defeated, but he was finally elected in 1962 and he was a Member of Parliament until 1979 when he retired. And he died in 1983.
KF
Wow. So he got a couple of years in Parliament, which is nice.
JM
Yeah. Quite a few years and it was in a number of minority governments so there were a lot of elections during that period of time as well.
KF
And so part of the reason why, I guess – did we reach out to you? Or I know you spoke to Heather initially with the project. Did she come out and reach out to you, or?
JM
Yes I think, I’m not sure how it happened, but I know that I heard from somebody and I did say that, I responded – I thought there might be somebody – there’s somebody I know on Pender Island who actually lived in one of the camps. So I thought she might be helpful, so I did that and then it was suggested that I be interviewed. I think she declined and I wasn’t certain about that because I really don’t have any first-hand knowledge.
KF
Yeah, no, that’s fine. So I guess my question is, in terms of what your father did with the CCJC, the Canadian Cooperative on Japanese Canadians, did he ever communicate any memories or opinions about the work he did with the Japanese-Canadian community?
JM
Yes.
KF
Yeah?
JM
I was the youngest of five and I was born in 1948 so his actual experience with it, other than when he went to do the appeal at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, when I was about one or something, I have no memory of any of it. But it was part of the family lore as it were and I was certainly very conscious of the fact that he did act for the Japanese Canadians and that was something he was proud of and we as a family were proud of.
KF
So what kind of things did he talk about? Or what were common discussions that you would have surrounding that topic? Was it talking about specific cases? Or what the government had decided to do back in the day?
JM
Yeah, it wasn’t about specific cases, it was more about the Government. I mean, I knew the way it was framed to me was that many Japanese Canadians who were – many of whom were born in Canada and or naturalized citizens, were forced to leave their homes and that was a violation of their rights and that he was their lawyer. I do recall him talking about or I remember hearing and I can’t remember when or how that that they came into his office one day and for me because I was a lawyer later on, it was sort of that idea that clients come into your office and with a problem and suddenly your practice changes. And so I don’t know to the extent to which he was doing constitutional law before that, I’m not sure, but I know that that became a big case for as far as he was concerned and he developed a lot of interest in constitutional things. As I say, he may have had others before then, but that was my understanding is that, these clients come in and it turned into a big case that was very significant for him.
00:05:00.000
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KF
And did he ever reflect on the outcome of the case?
JM
Yes. There was certainly talk, the talk I heard was – it was a bit of a joke in the family that he had gone, you know, it was big to go to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council if you were a lawyer in Canada and the story that I heard was, you know, he went off to England, it was not as easy a trip now as then as it was now and it was big for him to do that and that he had lost the case. So that was not a joke that he lost the case. But when he turned 65 or something, he by that point he was a politician and some of the family did a little joke brochure about how he had lost cases as far up as the Judicial Committee. so that’s what I meant by a joke. But I was conscious of the fact that he had lost the case, but the way that the spin went in the family was that that in fact the Prime Minister of the day, Mackenzie King had encouraged him to take the case –
KF
Really?
JM
Yeah and I have no idea what the factual basis for this is, but that was the story. And the implication being that he had sympathies, that Mackenzie King had sympathies with the case that was being made and the advantage of its being taken was it provided him an opportunity to slow things down and it wasn’t really so much a question of winning or losing, as raising the issues was very important. Now again I’m not sure of the timing of that, I have no idea how truthful it is, but that was the understanding in the family. And that was being presented to some extent, my father was a politician, he was a CCFF-er and a NDP-er, but he knew politicians including Mackenzie King, obviously, and he was sort of somewhat of the establishment so the fact that he was going for a party that was considered a socialist party, and it wasn’t as respectable as the NDP is now, was something of an anomaly. And he was quite a successful lawyer, at least that’s what we understood, and might’ve been a judge, but in fact the word was that he was offered that, but he didn’t want to do that because he has a social conscience and felt that that was what he should working more on social change and that he couldn’t do that in the position of the judge. So again, that’s the family lore, so I’m not sure how – but that the impression I had was that that politically, for the liberals who in our family were always thought as the, sort of bit, of opportunists as opposed to having the strong principles of the CCF, but some of them were somewhat liberal thinking, small “l” liberal as opposed to big “L” liberal. And so this story about Mackenzie King was an illustration of him being small “l” liberal, sympathetic, but the big “L” liberal opportunist, had to respond to the very strong feelings that there were that something needed to be done because of the perceived threat of the Japanese on the West Coast. And that he was responding to that because he had to, not because he necessarily thought it was right and he was pleased that these issues were being brought forward.
KF
So your father had quite a bit of contact with Mackenzie King then?
JM
I have no idea how much contact, but he clearly – he related conversations with him in how those – why he had those conversations, I don’t know. But I didn’t have an impression that they were close friends or anything, but there was this idea that he had been – that Mackenzie King had suggested him as a judge and that he had said no. So that, that again, these are filtered down and who knows how accurate they are, but that was the story that I heard anyway.
KF
In terms of just as person, what was your father like? Personality-wise, like we were just briefly discussing when we met, you can see his name and his voice throughout the archives quite a bit, not just only in the CCJC work, but on other things of course, but it’s always nice to know what the person was like behind all of that legal stature.
00:09:52.000
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JM
Well it’s always hard to describe what your parents are like, I guess –
KF
laughs
JM
But he...he big sigh...how to describe what he was like? I’ve certainly felt lots of fondness and closeness and whatever. In his head, you know, very abstract thinker...very smart in that way. Very...put a big value on rational thinking and logical thinking and was, himself, capable of that. He enjoyed having a family and he was always busy working and he was very involved in politics and also actually as a layman in the Anglican Church as well. So he was always busy doing things. The jokes would be that he was not the most practical person and so you know when it came to the having to put in your taxes and my mother would be in the basement trying to find the documents and he was not particularly practical. My recalls of him when we’d take three weeks off in the summer, we’d go up to a cottage for the whole summer for the two months, my mother would look after us and he would come on weekends and then take three weeks holidays and in his holidays he would spend a lot of time sitting in the chair reading various books. He was always reading.
KF
Really? Yeah.
JM
So yeah those were the kinds of memories I have of him, what he was like. I think he was quite a reserved person, he was not- my mother found it easier to talk to people and so he was not as easy going in that sense. But he very much enjoyed his work and I could see that he enjoyed his work and it was about the service part of it and the money part of it was kind of divorced from – not to say that he didn’t make some money and we didn’t live a perfectly good life, but he didn’t see it as a business, he did not see law as a business at all.
KF
So you had mentioned that when you were talking about your father’s work about social change, was that an important driving force for your father in terms of the work that he took on?
JM
Yes.
KF
Yes?
JM
I would say that was the driving force. You know he had these three aspects of his life: he was a Christian and involved as an Anglican and his concept of that was that it was a call to bring justice in the world. So his interpretation of his religious faith drove him to politics and to a certain kind of politics, I think. While he was a lawyer, as I say, he ran a number of times so he ran about six times in ridings for most of the time, but he was more driven by politics than he was by law, but he also took law very seriously, but again, as a means to an end as a means to bringing about justice in the world, I’d say.
KF
So as a politician then, what were...I guess, what were the things that he was really passionate about as a politician because you’re right, there were a couple phases of his life. And so when he finally got into politics, what were some of the things that were really important to him?
JM
Well actually being the youngest, I lived with him for my last three years of high school, my mother had moved up to Ottawa and I was still in high school and the rest of them were in university so I lived with him in Ottawa.
KF
Oh really? Wow.
JM
So I did get some – that I have more direct information, but he was the immigration critic. Certainly immigration was a big piece for him, constitutional was, I don’t know that he – he wasn’t ever the constitutional critic; I think he always wanted to be, but for whatever reason he wasn’t. He was a defense critic so he got into all of that. So in international affairs, he was very engaged with international affairs, again, a justice aspect of it. So it was an international perspective. And he would back to Toronto on the weekends and he had a clinic in his constituency and would help people and in that he did a lot of helping individuals on the immigration front come into Canada.
00:15:15.000
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JM
So that was something he put a lot of energy into as well as the immigration policy part. But he would spend quite a lot of time working on whatever portfolio he was to work on. He wrote some books about defense. So he was very involved when he became a Member of Parliament, that was more of what he wanted to be on some level than a lawyer and yet, you know, he did put a lot of energy – I don’t want to understate the law part because I think in some sense I know some of his friends and people that knew him felt that it was a pity that he was spending so much time on the political stuff because he could have been a major jurist.
KF
Oh, well that’s really interesting about the immigration work as well and I guess during that time especially postwar immigration, so much was going on especially in the areas that you were living in, Toronto and Ottawa, the amount of people that were coming in. So I could imagine your dad being quite busy even just taking on a few cases.
JM
Yeah and I think he really enjoyed that, I think that he – while he was not an easy, just chatting with people type of person, he treated people with respect and I think that allowed a good relationship, but I think he probably preferred to be dealing with them in a way that he could provide some service so there was a reason for the interactions, but he valued those interactions for sure and the people that he got to know as a result of the immigration work.
KF
Now, going back a little bit, could I maybe get some information on your father’s early life? Where he came from? And where he was born because he, when I read some facts and background, your father’s originally from England, correct?
JM
That’s where he was born.
KF
Yeah. And so how did he make it over here to Canada?
JM
Well his mother was Canadian. His mother’s father was Andrew Blair who was the Premier of New Brunswick, Liberal Premier of New Brunswick and had a number of daughters and one of them was my grandmother. And he became – in 1896 he was in Laurier’s cabinet and he was cabinet minister for six or seven years, then he resigned. And so there was a big connection to Canada, I think. My grandparents were a shipboard romance yes so they went back...he’s the second child so I don’t know exactly when they went back, but he was born – but I think he was pretty young, I’m not sure, like one or two or something. He was pretty young when they came to Ottawa, but then went back to school in England when he was about eleven. And I’ve often thought of that because I’ve done a lot of work with the Residential Schools and it’s interesting to me that – and my grandfather was an Anglican priest and so – and the Anglican Church was involved with Residential Schools from that time, but there was very much an attitude of education was all important and oblivious to the realities of taking kids away from their families because he would go by boat and he wouldn’t be back for at least a year, like during the year he wouldn’t come back for Christmas or anything. And yet a big difference from the Residential schools because he was privileged to be able to do that, he knew it was because he was smart and deemed to be smart and so he had all that, but at the same time he was divided from his family and I think, my own assumption, is that that had an impact, long term impact on him.
KF
Yeah...So he became a lawyer, do you know around the time he decided to become a lawyer?
JM
Well what I know is that he was pretty young when he finished. He went back at what the equivalent of high school in England and he was at the point of choosing whether he would stay in England and go to Oxford or whether he would come back to Canada and he decided to come back to Canada and become a lawyer and at that point you didn’t go to university to become a lawyer, you were in a long term apprenticeship.
00:20:03.000
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JM
So he was about six, six plus years as an apprentice to J.C. McRuer who became, I guess I think he became the Chief Justice in Ontario, anyway he became a judge, a well known judge. And so that’s how he became a lawyer, so he never went to university and didn’t get a university degree because he’d chosen to come back to Canada – when he was in England, he had some involvement, an interest in the Labour Party, but I think, let me just do the math here...he was born in two thousand and – in 1907, so it was in the '30’s, as my understanding, when he really got involved in the CCF, but he got interested in socialist politics when he was in England and had made some connections, not sure exactly, some of that may have been after he came back. And anyway so that’s – I’m not sure what the question was now if I –
KF
Oh when you’re father became a lawyer, but I didn’t even realize you could do apprenticeships back then laughs.
JM
Yeah well they call them apprenticeship, but you article, there was an article in the paper today about possibly getting rid of even the one-year article but at that point, yeah you – he was associated with Osgoode Hall-
KF
Yeah!
JM
But that’s how you got your education.
KF
Wow. Going back a little bit to the CCJC topic, did you ever get a sense or perhaps you can reflect on this a little bit about why he may have taken that case on in the first place? Like you said that these people had come into his office and there was some discussions with McKenzie King, but –
JM
Discussions with McKenzie King would have come quite a bit later.
KF
Oh quite a bit later.
JM
Would have nothing to do with him taking the case.
KF
Oh, okay. So do you have an idea of maybe what drove him to take the case on?
JM
Well I’m making assumptions maybe, extrapolating from myself onto him and my experience as a lawyer, he would have been immediately taken by the issue and wanting to do something about it and finding it a very interesting case. It probably in comparison to some of the other work he was doing, and I have no idea what other work he was doing at the time, but the reason I say that is because it certainly in retrospect became that. But my guess is that ...I imagine people, you know coming in and I – sighs again I don’t know whether this is my imagination or whatever, but very intelligent, compelling people that came into talk to him so I think it was the leadership of the organization across the country. And so he would’ve been captured by that issue and wanting to do it. He would’ve been excited to be asked to do it and really wanted to.
KF
And in terms of your father’s career looking back, what were some other highlights of his career that really stand out? For us when we study Japanese Canadian history, his work pops up as a big one on the radar, but just across the board as you knew him, what were maybe some of the other career highlights or cases that came around?
JM
Well, as a child, he would talk about some from time to time and it’s hard to remember. Um, there was much more talk about politics than there was about his legal cases and of course there’s restrictions about what you can talk about in terms of legal cases. However, I know as a lawyer, his name pops up from time to time on some key cases. There’s one in particular about wrongful dismissal in an employment situation, which he took – he argued for the person who had been dismissed and that case, which he won, became the sort of seminal case that keeps getting referred to about the factors that you need to take into account. The notion that even if you don’t have a contract, there’s an obligation to give reasonable notice and the factors that need to be taken into account. So that’s one that I know about as an adult and a lawyer. He was definitely involved in the labour area.
00:24:56.000
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JM
I remember that he or I was told because I don’t remember it that he had some involvement – and when would that have been?...with the development of the Saskatchewan labour code so when the CCF got elected in Saskatchewan, and I’m missing the date in my head right now, but he had gone there and a group of them had drafted, I don’t know how many, I think it was a pretty small group so he had come out to help draft their labour code, which was again I did labour law when I was at law school and I practiced it to some extent and the history as I understand it, is the Saskatchewan labour code was important piece in the history of the development of what we now accept as the labour code.
KF
So if it’s okay with you, maybe we might talk about your work a little bit?
JM
Sure.
KF
Would you say that your father’s work influenced you to become a lawyer or to get into law? Or did you have your own reasons for getting into law itself?
JM
Oh I’m sure it did influence me. I resisted the idea for a period of time because it was too obvious that I’d become a lawyer. So there are five children in the family and all with spouses, and so that’s counting my parents, that’s twelve, and of them seven have legal degrees.
KF
No! Really?! Laughs Oh my god...
JM
Yeah so...and you know and then my grandfather, my great- no my – anyway there are relatives on both sides that are lawyers. So it was sort of an obvious thing in some ways, so I was in some sense resisting as opposed to the other way around. I was, you know, I just thought of it when I made the decision to go to law school, I was contemplating going on to do a PhD in political science, but there was a little tension between lawyers and academics within the CCF and the NDP. You know, the lawyers were thinking that it’s more practical and you have to figure out how to make this happen and academics were seen as being a little bit wooly headed ...whatever. So maybe that prejudice may have affected my choice.
KF
Yeah laughs
JM
But I think for sure, and the practice, certainly the notion of distinguishing between the costs, you know the money that comes in for your services and the work you do and dichotomizing that through ....although in the course of my practice, I had to become the managing partner and had to concern myself about the money part of it, but I still think on some level he affected me that when you’re actually doing it, you just do whatever you need to do and then you hope that you get paid properly for it. So that, but also an interest in constitutional law and labour law and that sort of logical, analytical approach to things, I was definitely impacted.
KF
You had mentioned that you did some work with the Residential schools?
JM
Yes.
KF
Can you talk about that a little more?
JM
Yeah, I was one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners in the first go round of it. It imploded the first three – that it imploded after a year and I was one of those three. The way I had gotten involved in it I was a child and youth officer in British Columbia, which is kind of a child advocate in a pinnate position and that looks at public policy for children. And if you look at that in BC, that whole area, you’re right up against Aboriginal, the aboriginal social conditions because so many of the children in care over 50% are Aboriginal plus youth that are in the juvenile justice system are very high proportionate. And so the question of how do you – what’s going on there and how do you deal with that, again any kind of exploration that got me knowing more about the Residential schools. It is interesting to me when I look back at my fathers, um, the talk, there was very little talk about the Aboriginal situation in Canada. I’m not saying that he had no interest in it, but it didn’t filter down to me.
00:30:02.000
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JM
It was much more international and I think that it’s significant that he didn’t because it would have been the sort of thing that he would have gone up to, but it was just kind of not particularly upfront and centre. So yeah and then I spent, after I was no longer Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, I did the claims under the Residential School class action settlement for sexual and serious physical abuse. So I’ve been doing that for years, I still have a couple left, but it’s pretty much over. So that’s my connection there. And there’s no question that – the other thing that I didn’t mention that I’m doing now or maybe I did quickly as we were coming, is justice reform and my drive to want to bring about social change. I’m sure I got from my parents and my father in particular. I have a different view, I think, about how to do it.
KF
Really?
JM
Somewhat.
KF
How do your views and opinions differ?
JM
Well I think it’s a question of how. I guess I’m more skeptical of the ability to do it politically though I understand why one needs to try to do that, but I’m more skeptical about that. I think it lies in individuals and originations and systems and trying to understand how to make those things change, not that changing policy can’t have a big impact, but policy doesn’t change unless people want it to change too. So I think I’m a little bit more – maybe that’s the political science part of me Kyla: laughs. I never wanted to run for office. There are other members of my family that have felt that compulsion, but I wasn’t one of them.
KF
Just to wrap up this first interview. I have a couple more questions. When you look back on the history of Japanese-Canadians and what had happened, and maybe even just the fact that you’ve worked also with Residential Schools, what are your thoughts on that particular time period and what had happened to the Japanese Canadians? Do you have any thoughts on that yourself?
JM
Well I think it’s a very good parallel because I think it’s clearly, I guess we all can see it more clearly now, was a major, major violation of their human rights in extraordinary ways. And how did that come about in a country that prides itself for its human rights? So there’s a real conflict there and I think it’s very important, as in the Residential school situation, which is not just about bad behavior on the part of individuals and the schools and I think some of that sexual abuse is an almost inevitable consequence of the situation. But the real story there from a Canadian point of view is the violation of children and the families and the communities rights. So the fact that a country can do that and do it for what appears to be reasonable reasons at the time is something that we all need to be very conscious of. I probably lost the train of your question to answer it, but what was your question again?
KF
Oh, just reflecting on the situation, the particular time period. Just any thoughts you have.
JM
The time period, yeah. So now I live on the west coast and I live in the Gulf Islands and I know that there were a number of Japanese Canadians particularly on Salt Spring or whatever. So it’s very real, I’ve also a few years back, I was driving to Nelson, Revelstoke and I stopped at one of the places where they were encamped. And it just kind of brings home the realities of it all and what people had to go through is very disturbing. This woman that I was trying to get to see if you could interview because I think you could’ve got a lot more from her than you can from me, but when I met her, she’s probably in her late seventies I would guess, I’ve got to do the math, anyway she was just very little when they were moved, her family were moved from Vancouver to the interior and when I met her on Pender many, many years later and you know, as sort of this nice mini meeting....when it came out for her that Andrew Brewin was my father, she was delighted and said that he was a household name for her when she was little.
00:35:19.000
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KF
Really? Wow.
JM
But she also described her experience that she was young enough that it sort of was more like summer camp to her in some ways. She didn’t see it all negatively completely because she wasn’t aware of a lot of the implications of it, I guess. But then the other part when I moved out here, I heard from people who lived through it who described the fear that was hear amongst the non-Japanese that there really was about to be some sort of invasion. And I don’t think that justifies anything, but I think it’s important to understand those things if you’re really going to figure out how you – make it not happen.
KF
Last quick question before we wrap up. And you mentioned this a little bit already with the lady on Pender, but have you met other Japanese-Canadians who had some sort of distant contact with your father or said, you know, “Oh my grandfather knew your father,” or something like that. Did you ever meet anybody like that?
JM
No, other members of my family have –
KF
Oh, really?
JM
But that’s the one that ....the one that I just described was my major connection. I know that there – I mean, my mother talked about it somewhat, but – and I actually have in my place, a plaque that has a poem on it and it was given to my father, but the place I’m in burnt down and it burnt with it and this is a replacement, but on the one that was there before, it had a nice handwritten thing to him. So it was sad to lose that. But I know it was very important to him and he felt a real connection and felt a real respect for the leaders that were trying to do something about it and he felt respected by them so it was a very positive relationship from his point of view.
KF
Great, well thank you so much.
JM
Okay
KF
Really enjoyed that.
JM
Good.
KF
Short, but sweet for sure.
JM
Laughs okay.
00:37:29.000

Metadata

Title

Jane Morley, interviewed by Kyla Fitzgerald, 29 September 2016

Abstract

In this interview, Jane Morley shares her memories of her father, Andrew Brewin, a politician and lawyer who worked with the Co-operative Committee on Japanese Canadians (CCJC) in the 1940’s. Jane discusses her father’s work and political career as well as how Brewin started working with the CCJC. Furthermore, she shares what Brewin was like as a father and outlines some of the issues that were most important to him in his career. Jane also talks about Brewin’s early life, how he became a lawyer, and some of his career highlights. Finally, we discuss Jane’s career as a lawyer, what motivated her to study law, her work as a Commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and finally, her thoughts on the Japanese-Canadian internment.

Credits

Interviewer: Kyla Fitzgerald
Interviewee: Jane Morley
XML Encoder: Stewart Arneil
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: University of Victoria
Keywords: Andrew Brewin ; father; CCJC ; Mackenzie King ; law; CCF ; politics; Anglican Church; immigration; Ottawa ; labour; social change; Residential schools; Pre World War II (1907-1939), World War II, 1940’s, post war to present.

Terminology

Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.