I was 26, a first-year honors student in a new Liberal Arts program that required written and oral entrance exams. Frank Scott was writer-in-residence that year, and I got to know him through a shared interest in poetry.
One day, Frank invited me to tea in his old office at McGill, where we were received by the then Dean’s secretary.
Frank gave me a tour of the law faculty. He stopped to show me some Latin words on a wall: “Audi Alteram Partem“, and explained the importance of this term. We then continued walking and eventually came across another wall with another Latin phrase, “Nil carborundum illegitimi“, which Scott, with a wink, translated for me: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”. He was referring, of course, to the opposition in law suits. Frank himself had hung on for years in the Roncarelli case to its iconic end, from his early interrogation of a young criminal lawyer who had advised the Premier of Quebec, Maurice Duplessis. This criminal lawyer, nicknamed “Tony the Fixer“, became Chief Justice of Canada after Pierre Trudeau’s 1982 Southern-Rhodesian-style coup d’état camouflaged under the false name of “patriation”. Scott had recruited Trudeau. He had certainly recruited Trudeau’s adviser, Strayer; and I suspect he recruited Antonio Lamer, who in 1998 lived up to his old nickname.
So I was a young girl, even at 26, who had no idea who she was talking to: a pleasant man who frequented CFR circles promoting a socialist world government.
Nonetheless, I learned a couple of Latin phrases, along with that fundamental principle, the “Rule of Law“, ironically carved into Canadian stone by Scott himself (who in fact had no real respect for the law. He had worked for most of his life to subvert Confederation and the rights of its founding peoples. Of course, I didn’t know that when I met him).