Presented at the 2017 Alumni Annual Dinner on May 27, 2017 by Raymond Oake (1971) about his friend and contemporary, Douglas Ruck (BA ’72).
There is a theme to Doug Ruck’s life and career, and that theme is service. It started when he was just a child and continues to this day.
I served as Treasurer under Doug when he was President of King’s Student Union in 1971, and succeeded him at the end of his term. I knew then, as many of us did, that he would go on to make significant contributions to his profession and his community.
After graduating from King’s in 1972, Doug pursued further studies in Political Science before completing his Bachelor of Law at Dalhousie University. Doug is also a member of the Queen’s Counsel.
While senior partner for the law practice Ruck & Mitchell, Doug was Chairman of the Labour Standards Tribunal, the Civil Service Employee Relations Board, and the Public Sector Compensation Board. He also served as Vice-Chair for both the Labour Standards Tribunal and Labour Relations Board, and as a Board of Inquiry for the Human Rights Commission.
He also successfully completed a program in mediation training at Harvard Law School, and the Negotiating and Conflict Management Program at Dalhousie University.
There was, and is, no stopping Doug. In 1995, he became the first African-Nova Scotian Ombudsman for Nova Scotia, serving until 2000. A bit of King’s trivia for you – Did you know that the first Ombudsman for Nova Scotia was Dr. Harry D. Smith, the President of the University of King’s College from 1963 – 69? Dr. Smith served as Ombudsman from 1971 – 81. So King’s has had two firsts in the Ombudsman arena: the first Ombudsman for Nova Scotia, and the first African Nova Scotian Ombudsman.
Doug was an apolitical, impartial, and independent officer of the elected legislature with the authority to investigate complaints from the public against provincial and municipal government departments and agencies. He was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the Childrens’ Ombudsman for the province of Nova Scotia, and was a founding director of the Canadian Ombudsman Association, and served as one of the North American representatives on the International Ombudsman Association.
Doug is a respected speaker and consultant who has lectured and presented workshops and seminars at the provincial, national, and international level on a variety of topics including: labour relations and employment law; administrative law; conducting a fair hearing; organizational ethics; human rights; employment equity and diversity; community development; international relations; and alternative dispute resolution. He was the first full time Chairperson of the Unified Nova Scotia Labour Board.
As a former Vice-Chair of the Canada Industrial Relations Board, Doug travelled throughout Canada conducting and directing mediation processes to resolve industrial relation disputes, and contribute to and promote effective industrial relations in works, undertakings, and businesses that fall within the authority of the Parliament of Canada by interpreting and applying the Canada Labour Code.
As a mediator and as an Ombudsman, Doug Ruck has put himself at the service of those who are in search of fairness, and of those who lack the means to help themselves.
In the Nova Scotia Book of Fathers, edited by Lesley Choyce and Julia Swan, Doug’s daughter, Lindsay, has a chapter entitled, “The Incomparable Love of a Father.” In Lindsay’s words, “My father has this unbelievable ability to always be the bigger person. He’s taught me to rise above and to not worry about others around me. To enter and leave every room with dignity and respect and to never compromise who I am for the sake of pleasing others. He taught me all of this not by telling, but by doing.”
For Doug, it was his own father, Calvin Ruck, who introduced him to community involvement at a young age. Indeed, there has been no greater influence to the trajectory of his professional and community life than his father. The late Senator, who incidentally, received an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from King’s in 1999, always stressed to his children the importance of a person’s integrity and reputation, of being good natured and good spirited. He would be proud to know that his son has become that man.
Doug continues to volunteer his time with a number of groups and organizations. In his free time he watches golf instructional videos in preparation for the King’s College golf tournament in August.
As I said, there is a theme to Doug Ruck’s life and career, and that theme is service. It is my great pleasure and honour to present the 2017 Judge J. Elliott Hudson Award to Douglas G. Ruck.