From Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the 15th Prime Minister of Canada.
From Jake Quinney and Family – Quadriplegic Injury.
It was August 14, 2008, when I met my fate on Highway 105. While driving to work I was involved in a terrible motor vehicle accident. I was ejected through the driver’s window as my truck rolled down an embankment. I sustained a life altering injury. I was rendered a C4 quadriplegic.
In October 2008, I was transferred to the Lyndhurst Spinal Cord Hospital. I was told on my very first day at this hospital that my insurance company would only pay for 90 days at the hospital and therefore I needed to recover within that time period. I was stunned by the pure inhumanity and heartlessness of this communication. I was told only if I could lift a finger or twitch a toe could I stay for six months. I knew then that this was going to be a long-drawn-out fight. I was desperate and despondent.
My insurance company was doing everything it could not pay what I was entitled to under my policy of insurance. My family and I were solicited by many lawyers, but none of them seemed honest or caring enough to have our best interests. I was introduced to Tim Danson. When Tim personally offered to take on my case pro bono, it was a ray of light and gave hope to my family and myself.
Because of Tim Danson’s dogged persistence, legal expertise and courtroom clout, I received the care and equipment I needed, a house and insurance settlement, all within 11 months.
Now 13 years later, my beautiful wife and I live in a comfortable home near our parents in the forest of eastern Ontario.
The gratitude, appreciation and regard my family and I have for Tim can hardly be expressed in words. Because of your incredible kindness and skill, I have a good life.
Thank you Tim.
Sincerest regards, Jake and Olivia Quinney and the Quinney family, may the wind always be at your back.
From Eric Lamaze, Olympic Gold and World Champion Medalist in Equestrian Show Jumping.
I just wanted to give you this [framed picture winning gold medal at 2008 Beijing Olympics] as a little token of gratitude for the role you played in getting me to where I am today. We both know that the road was long and more than a little bumpy, but you never gave up on me. If it had not been for your belief in me, there is no way I would have this gold medal. I had an amazing horse and a bit of luck that night in Hong Kong, and was able to show the world what I could do with my third chance! I hope I made you proud. I thought of you while I was standing on the podium, and I thank you for never giving up on me!
From Jeff Adams, Paralympian Gold and World Champion Medalist.
I wanted to write you a short note to try to start to say thank you. I say “start” because I’ll spend the rest of my life repaying your generosity in words and deeds. As stacked as the deck was against us, I remain convinced that nobody else could have accomplished the win that you secured at the hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) – as you know, the sport world buzzed at the appeal verdict, particularly the way you were able to convey to the CAS panel the need to act in fairness, and to follow the law.
I spent most of my life traveling the world, racing for Canada – and have rarely been so joyful as on those rare and magical days when my efforts were enough to see the maple leaf flown and hear Oh Canada played; to have heard the sound of celebration from the crowd, and the sound of support from those who helped me on my journey. As you know, the consequences of an anti-doping charge can be devastating, and career ending for an athlete; there were many dark days for me during the legal process.
The energy of your efforts was a light during those difficult times, and your tireless work ended with a complete vindication for me, putting me “back on track” in time to race at the Paralympics in Beijing, giving me the chance to make my best efforts for myself, and my country.
Thank you for making that sound of support in my life. Thank you for rescuing my athletic career. Thank you for giving me my life back. Thank you most of all for your friendship and humanity throughout.
From Donna and Doug French, Parents of Kristen French.
On April 16, 1992, our 15-year-old daughter, Kristen, was abducted by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, forcefully confined for three days and then murdered. This was a horrific tragedy, a tragedy that no family should ever have to endure. Our family was crippled with the pain of our loss and frustrated with the justice system.
We subsequently met Tim Danson at the CAVEAT office prior to an arrest being made in regard to our daughter’s death. Tim immediately offered to assist us in any way he could. Never did we expect that we would have to take him up on his offer. We were aware of the existence of the videotapes taken by Bernardo and Homolka and we understood the implications of these tapes if they ever became public. We called Tim for advice regarding the videotapes. He immediately offered to help us. We were so grateful for the offer, but we knew that we could never afford his services. Tim was quick to brush our concerns aside and told us that he would not charge us.
The evidence in this case was very in-depth as to how Kristen was brutally beaten, violated and degraded as her perpetrator tried to gain control over her. We were totally in an uncontrollable state of pain, anguish and despair, thinking of how Kristen would feel about these facts being made public. Any victim would feel humiliated and embarrassed if every vile act committed against him/her were to be openly and graphically detailed in public, but to a 15-year-old girl, it would be beyond anything she could mentally or emotionally contend with.
With the finding of the videotapes that Bernardo had made of his unspeakable crimes depicting his attempt to humiliate and taunt Kristen, our worst fears were realized. We felt it was outrageous that the court planned to show these videos in an open courtroom for all to see. It was when we expressed our feelings on this matter, indicating that we wanted the viewing of the videotapes to be restricted to only those who were responsible to see that justice was served, that we were informed that we had no standing in court; that we had no say in the matter, and that the videotapes would be played in open court. This was when we really turned to Tim for his help. Tim completely and instinctively understood how we felt about protecting Kristen’s dignity, privacy and memory, even though she was no longer living.
Tim’s concern for the dignity and privacy of our daughter’s memory was sincere and heartfelt. The hours that he spent painstakingly preparing our case seemed endless and the time he spent talking to us, comforting us at all hours of the day and night and reassuring us that he would do everything possible to have our wishes respected, did a lot to calm us down. Tim gave us faith that victims did not have to stay quiet; that their voices could be heard, even if not alive. It was a very long, emotional fight, but thanks to Tim Danson, we were given standing in the criminal trial of Paul Bernardo to bring our own standalone motion, supported by a significant evidentiary record, including expert evidence to prevent public and media access to the Bernardo videotapes. This was a gut-wrenching experience which fortunately resulted in success. We would not have survived an adverse ruling and Tim knew this.
Likewise, when we brought an application to destroy the videotapes and other sensitive exhibits, we once again obtained standing; we were given the right to call evidence, and to make fulsome submissions. Again, through Tim’s relentless hard work and dedication, our application was granted and all this evil evidence was destroyed. In one important sense we knew that Kristen could not be harmed again. She was finally free. This was enormously important to us.
As time went on, we were able to have standing in other legal proceedings such as being represented by Tim in Joliette, Quebec to impose post-sentence conditions on Karla Homolka at the end of her 12-year sentence. None of this would have been possible without Tim’s perseverance and dedication. When Tim Danson has a mission, he uses every avenue available to complete it. He is a person of principle, passion and absolute integrity. It has given us a sense of accomplishment to have achieved real success in advancing victims’ rights.
To this day, Tim has remained a family friend. Whenever a new issue comes to the forefront regarding our case, Tim is immediately on the phone preparing us for what is to come. He is our buffer, there to stabilize us during the traumatic times such as Paul Bernardo’s parole hearings. A better lawyer we do not know; a better friend, there is none.
Donna French & Doug French
From Jim and Anna Stephenson, Parents of Christopher Stephenson.
It has now been more than three decades since that Father’s Day weekend in 1988 when we tragically lost our 11 year old son Christopher and, as yet another “anniversary” of that time approaches, Anna and I are reminded of the success of our “never again” advocacy and efforts to bring about systemic changes in the judicial system.
We are convinced these changes would not have occurred had it not been for your dedication, commitment and hard work. From the very beginning it was clear to us that you recognized both our pain and heartache as well as our desire to make some sense of what had happened. We felt connected to you and believed the connection was mutual.
From the very early days, and as the legal process slowly moved along, we witnessed your professionalism, extensive legal experience, and above all that, your commitment to fairness and the law. Throughout our long and difficult journey, you conducted yourself in an highly principled manner, and with great dignity and integrity. While at times under pressure, your deportment throughout had a positive and confident impact on the courtroom. We could not have had better representation both before and throughout the five and one half month long Inquest. You successfully mounted an intense and unparalleled examination of Canadian correctional and parole systems and the provincial mental health processes and how each contributed to the events leading to Christopher’s death.
Our early efforts to find suitable legal assistance to represent us at the inquest did not go well. One firm we approached told us point blank “from the way you’re dressed, you can’t afford our fees”. That attitude, and the likely prospect of having to come up with a hefty retainer, shook our confidence in the likelihood that we would be able have proper legal representation to fulfill our role as parties of standing into our son’s death.
Yet you were committed to our cause, and without judgment you took our case on without a retainer, and without any guarantee of payment. In fact, a number of months passed before the question of your legal fees would even be raised with us. In addition to remortgaging our home, we mounted a “go fund me” button-campaign to initially help with our legal expenses. The fundraising effort was combined with a public letter writing initiative to mount public pressure on the Federal Government for our legal fees.
But it would not be for some 10 months after you began your legal preparation, and then only after the Inquest jury went on record about the significant contribution our presence made to the success of the Inquest, and demanded the Federal Government pay our legal fees because, really it was the right thing to do. That news conference was unprecedented.
Tim, notwithstanding the financial hardship the funding created for you and your family, you never gave an inch: your commitment and hard work never faltered.
The Inquest drew to a conclusion in mid-January 1993 and it marked a fundamental turning point for reform of the justice system and protection of communities in Canada, and Ontario in particular. For the record, Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry) 2000, proclaimed in 2001, the federal Sex Offender Information Act, three years later, and the Long Term Offender Legislation, created in 1997, represent very significant and lasting outcomes, and stand as testimony to our forged desire to produce meaning from Christopher’s death. Other significant administrative changes of the 1993 Inquest include the sharing of information between Federal and Provincial Correctional Institutions and Provincial Mental Health Institutions.
It would be a grave oversight not to acknowledge multiple “first-evers” of the Inquest. For one, the Jury’s decision to call for an annual “report card”. For another, one only has to review the number of the Inquest recommendations which were successfully implemented in short order. Another major recommendation from the Inquest Jury was for the government not to proclaim the capping provisions of the Criminal Code.
Anna and I are extremely proud of what we have accomplished together in Christopher’s memory, and we want you to know how grateful we are to you and your never-ending commitment to our cause. We are equally grateful for the special friendship that developed between us and continues to this day.
On a very personal note, not too long before his death Christopher had told us proudly of his goal to become a lawyer. And had life turned out differently and he had continued successfully in that direction, Anna and I would like to think he would have been at least as good a person and as fine a lawyer as you have proven to us.
Yours very truly,
Jim & Anna Stephenson
From the Family of Police Officer Todd Baylis.
Over the course of 16 years my family and I have developed a profound respect and admiration for Tim Danson, our lawyer. From the moment we met Tim we knew that he was difference from your “typical” lawyer, his dedication, determination, and attention to detail has left us forever in his debt. Few lawyers take a personal interest in the cause of their client, and it is a fact that Tim poured his heart and soul into this action that places him in a class of litigators all his own. Tim never swayed in his dedication to our cause, and fought for us as though Todd were a member of his own family or at the very least, he was a member of ours. It is for these reasons, and others we cannot even begin to put into words that we wish to offer our most sincere and deepest thanks to Tim.
[The family of murdered police officer, Todd Baylis in an open letter to the Toronto Police Association published in the June 2011 Tour of Duty Magazine]
From Detective Sergeant Mike Leone.
… Our lawyer, Tim Danson worked tirelessly to prepare this case for trial which was scheduled to begin on October 24, 2011. I can tell you that this was no small task, literally thousands of documents, gut wrenching photos of the shooting and hundreds of hours spent piecing together the last days of an officer’s life. For those who don’t know Tim Danson, he has a long history with our service and defending our members. He has been with us from the beginning and there was no better person to present this case.
[Detective Sergeant Mike Leone as part of an open letter to the Toronto Police Association published in the June 2011 Tour of Duty Magazine]
From Bebe, Silvia and Kat Zoricic, Parents and Sister to International Canadian Ski-Cross Champion, Nik Zoricic.
Where to start … that dreadful day, March 10th 2012, when our world crumbled into pieces.
We knew Tim for many years as a member of the Craigleith Ski Club and could never have imagined that our destiny would get us close together over something so tragic… the loss of our son and brother. We first spoke to Tim to get his perspective on what had gone wrong and whether there could be lessons learned from this tragedy so that no other family would have to go through this. Tim was a friend who listened; he was a parent who understood; he was a lawyer who analyzed … We connected. Tim, with his amazing sensitivity, humanity, empathy and ability to convey complex information in simple ways, helped us to focus on what we all believed to be the only good that could come from something so bad – improving the safety of the sport for other athletes.
Needless to say, we knew that the legal fees associated with work of this nature would be enormous and not something that we would be able to afford. Tim felt the pain in our hearts and told us that he would help us free of charge, regardless of how extensive the work was, even if it resulted in a full trial. At a time of enormous grief and despair and when we were most vulnerable, Tim promised us that he would work with us to expose the errors that led to Nik’s death and make sure that there were important lessons to be learned, to make sure such that a tragedy would never happen again; that silence and indifference would not be Nik’s legacy, but rather positive, meaningful and constructive change to ensure skier safety would be Nik’s legacy. The endless hours, commitment and dedication that followed to effect a positive outcome would have stopped many, but not Tim.
This journey has connected us forever, and this connection is beyond being extremely impressed with Tim…. In a highly specialized legal industry, Tim definitely stands out with his high-energy, honesty, passion for justice, and dedication to what is right and fair. Tim stands out with his analytical, insightful and strategic mind. But above all of this, is his heart and passion…. We knew we were tackling a huge undertaking of getting the sport regulations changed based on lessons learned so that no other similar tragedy would occur again. Tim never gave up. He kept his word and so much more. Tim has given us constant support in forcing a critically important conversation about lessons to be learned and effective change. Tim always encouraged us, particularly in moments of weakness and great sadness, to keep the faith and to focus on Nik’s legacy; a legacy which stands for issues that are important to athletes and to the ski community who have been desperate for systemic and attitudinal changes to make the sport safer.
Tim has also helped with shaping the Nik Zoricic Foundation’s mandate and direction. NZ Foundation will focus on improving the safety of the sport over the many years to come. Tim’s input has given us the opportunity to challenge our assumptions and to look at the mandate from different perspectives.
From a personal point of view, we see Tim as our extended family now. It has been a very enriching experience in the most tragic circumstances imaginable. Thank you Tim from the bottom of our heart, not only for what you have done for us, but also for the sport of skiing and the athletes that continue to work hard in competing and proudly representing their countries in the international circuit.
With warmest regards,
Bebe, Silvia and Kat Zoricic
From Chavi Rosenzweig and Family (Wife, Children, Brothers and Sisters) of David Rosenzweig.
It is so difficult to find words that are worthy of one so eminent and exceptional as Tim Danson. With this thought in mind, we share our Testimonial with you, the reader.
There are some few unique and awesome forces in this life that are so remarkable — the only words that adequately describe them are their own names. Tim Danson.
In July of 2002, our beloved David was murdered. When we were faced with an act of barbarism — nihilism so menacing it threatened to drown us in our grief, fear, trauma and tears — Tim came forward to stand as contrast. A mighty contrast was needed — and Tim put out his hand, his heart and his professionalism.
He has never pulled his hand back, nor his heart, nor his professionalism.
Tim declares to us. : There is meaning, there is light and right. Evil can’t abide. Against evil, we will fight together.
Tim is our safe place in an unsafe and unstable world.
Tim tells us that one day the sun will rise on a world of goodness. He tells us this with his very life.
Tim is a man of greatness, integrity, courage, compassion, benevolence and altruism — at their finest.
He is a remarkably unique and awesome force: Tim Danson.
Tim, words will never adequately describe the breadth and depth of gratitude in our hearts for you. Our gratitude and admiration are immeasurable and infinite.
May God’s Blessings be upon you.
Chavi Rosenzweig and Family
From the West Toronto United Soccer Club.
If only words were truly able to express the immense gratitude the entire West Toronto Cobra Boys elite U-16 soccer program has, it would be easy to write this. However, even though words may not truly express our profound thanks, we wanted to collectively express, to the best of our ability, the sentiments of all our players and staff.
How can a single team, as part of a very small, humble inner city Toronto Club take a movie like journey in standing up for justice against a major and powerful association? Tim Danson, that’s how!
I wish I could comprehensively share with anyone and everyone ‘everything you did’ through this journey, but that will be for another day perhaps, or a show like W5 or the Fifth Estate. In essence, to briefly summarize, our team won a critical Ontario Cup semi-final match, propelling the team to the Provincial Final, with a berth to the National Championships in St. John’s Newfoundland in the balance, only to have it taken away by the Ontario Soccer Association, due to an (acknowledged) internal administrative error. Ours is a program that teaches life skills through sport, as well as one that entails an immense commitment of time and energy, where soccer development and seeking to earn athletic and/or academic scholarships is the main vision and inspiration for all the boys.
You listened to our story describing the major injustice upon 17 innocent and hard working 15/16-year-old boys, and then put your professionalism, skill and passion to work, and I mean work, to reverse this grave injustice inflicted upon these boys. You helped us see the importance of taking on the Ontario Soccer Association from the perspective of ‘what is right’ and standing up for that ‘right’, despite the incredible mountain we had to climb, and the long odds of legal success. Not only did you lead us to success, with the Ontario Court’s ruling heavily in our favour, but also you did so donating a substantial amount of your time in this cause, to help an inner city squad lacking the resources to do so. As we contemplated with our team and families the decision to move forward in this knowingly difficult process, along with your great generosity, was your passion for justice, especially as it pertained to our youth community members. You asked us to share and reflect with our families the question of what was worse, ‘not winning’ or ‘not trying’? These words propelled the overwhelming majority of our families to stretch and sacrifice, in partnering with you to teach our children why it is worth standing up for what is simply, right.
Your body of work over your career speaks for itself, and we are little people, community members, working hard for our livings, but no less human, no less dedicated and all with dreams and goals to help our children pursue their goals honestly and passionately. However we would also like to share what in our humble view is far too rarely seen, an attorney that treated us with great kindness, patience, humility, commitment, dedication, loyalty and even some necessary and warranted humor along the entire journey. We were the underdogs, with no one in the GTA amateur sporting or legal community believing we had even the remotest of chances of succeeding in the courts. You were completely honest with us from day one! You prepared us for all possible outcomes. It is a remarkably easy thing to say you were, and are, a gentleman who sees the big picture in life and not merely the professional aspect, or the earnings aspect of your profession. Simply, you are unique in your profession and we, all 17 players and staff, shall go forward in life knowing and having learned that you can, and always should, fight for what is right, for justice, and that unto itself is an important experience for 17 young people. They will now go forward in life with this critical lesson and example to fuel and inspire their lives as future husbands, fathers, business and community members and leaders.
Tim, on behalf of the entire West Toronto Cobras players and staff, we are profoundly grateful to you. Along with your great skill, wisdom and generosity is a way, ‘Your Way’, which is inspirational, and will carry with it an immensely positive, immeasurable legacy of good!
Gino Ferrin (Co-Head Coach – West Toronto Cobras)
From the Islington Rangers Girls Soccer Team.
Our Summer 2017 Toronto District Youth Soccer League (TDYSL) season was a tremendous success, a direct translation of the hard work and dedication of 12 and 13 year old players. Our Islington Ranger’s 2004 Girls’ team had three district matches remaining in the season and was in first place of ten competing teams and was thrilled to be in first place across every soccer metric. The team had also successfully earned a berth in the unrelated but parallel September 16, 2017 Cup Final. Even if we were to lose our remaining matches, the team was to be promoted to the higher level, regional, Central Soccer League for Summer 2018 and the players’ path towards higher level soccer and possible scholarships would continue.
Then it all went wrong.
The Toronto Soccer Association (TSA) handed down a high-handed decision on the Friday, September 1, 2017 (before the Labour Day weekend) because of allegations of using improperly registered, younger, 2005 players on the roster due to a technical and administrative oversight on the part of the Islington Ranger’s Soccer League club – yes for younger, not older players. The TSA stripped the team of all of its points and removed the team from the Final Cup. Our 2004 Girls moved from first place overall to dead last. And the team had now lost its promotion to the Central Soccer League (as only the top three seeds in the TDYSL qualify). I was suspended as the Head Coach for six months. The girls and myself as Head Coach had lost everything we had rightfully earned through a strong work, ethic and determination.
I desperately conducted searches for litigators who could help us right this egregiously punitive wrong. I reached out to a half dozen litigators, most of whom didn’t return my multiple calls and e-mails.
Timothy Danson promptly responded to my calls and e-mails. Tim was our first preference given his previous success with the Ontario Soccer Association (OSA) in West Toronto United Football Club v. Ontario Soccer Association.
Tim and I discussed the matter over the telephone ad nauseum over multiple calls during the following days and evenings. Tim agreed to take on our case on September 7, 2017 – without an in-person meeting or standard legal fee retainer. His principled approach reinforced to the parents and players that there is more to the practice of law than money. At one point in our discussions, Tim said that in the face of such unfairness and injustice and when upholding important values and principles, what is worse than losing, is not even trying. Tim gave us hope.
We now had nine calendar days before the Cup Final was to be played. In what was a seemingly impossible timeline, Tim literally dropped everything in his practice to reverse this TSA decision. He treated our case as a top priority and professionally assembled the necessary legal briefs.
Tim and I attended court on Friday, September 15, 2017, before The Honourable Justice Koehnen. Notwithstanding the very limited time to prepare our case, Tim worked tirelessly, day and night and presented our case in court fully prepared.
At 7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 15, 2017, the night before the Cup Final, Justice Koehnen delivered his Reasons for Decision granting our application and quashing the TSA decision in all respects. The players and parents were ecstatic. We were on the field practicing when we got the call from Tim. I put the call on speaker so the girls could hear for themselves Justice Koehnen’s decision. To see and hear these young girls’ unbelievable reaction of pure happiness and relief, cannot be put into words. What an incredible lifelong experience for a team of 12 and 13 year old children to achieve success through hard work, dedication and discipline; to be the best they can be, only to be unfairly robbed of their success through the high-handed conduct of the TSA and then have this egregious miscarriage of justice vindicated by our justice system.
I consider Tim a friend. Witnessing the sacrifices he made in taking on our case with such passion and commitment was special indeed. Our cause and search for justice became Tim’s as well.
On behalf of the parents, players and myself, we would like to thank Tim for being there for us.
Head Coach and Club Director
Islington Ranger Soccer League