Nemetz, Nathan Theodore

views updated


NEMETZ, NATHAN THEODORE (1913–1997), Canadian lawyer, judge, and community leader. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Nathan Nemetz moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1923. He completed a history degree at the University of British Columbia (ubc) in 1934 and was called to the bar in 1937. Moved by the problem of high unemployment, Nemetz entered the field of labor law, eventually representing both the provincial government and numerous workers' associations as one of bc's top mediators. His strong social conscience also led Nemetz to an active pursuit of anti-discrimination work and inter-ethnic relations. During the 1950s he was a founding member of the Vancouver section of the Canadian Civil Liberties Union and a board member of the Vancouver Civic Unity Association, which successfully lobbied the provincial government to pass legislation making it illegal to discriminate in public places based on racial grounds. Nemetz was also active in the Jewish community. In addition to serving as president of the local chapter of B'nai B'rith and guiding much of the community relations work of the Pacific Region of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Nemetz was for many years the co-chairman of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. He was appointed to the BC Supreme Court in 1963 and was named chief justice in 1973. Between 1978 and 1988 he served in the province's top judicial position as chief justice of the BC Court of Appeal, doing much work to modernize the appeal process. Nemetz maintained a long association with the University of British Columbia, serving a term as chancellor from 1972 to 1975. Nemetz was named to the Order of British Columbia and was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian award. Following his 1997 death, the Nathan T. Nemetz Chair in Legal History at the ubc Faculty of Law was endowed in his honor.

[Barbara Schober (2nd ed.)]