05.03.2015 08:56 AM


I don’t believe in heroes, per the song. But if I had one from my Carleton J-school days, it would have been Joe Scanlon. With his blunt assessments, with his dry humour, he drove many of my classmates crazy. But to me – just arrived from Calgary, wearing homemade punk T-shirts and ripped skinny jeans – I thought he was awesome. He clearly shared my approach. 

“You like pissing people off, don’t you?” he said to me one day, from under that toque. 

“I’m not the only one,” I said. He grinned. 

He was my HRP advisor – I did it on third party election advertising, which every other prof but Joe thought would never become an issue – and he would often quietly warn me when he felt I was picking too many fights. “Irishman,” he’d say. He got me.  

We lost track of each other when I went back home for law school. But when we got back in touch, he revealed himself to possess that same sense of humour. Said I was an “interesting student,” which was high praise indeed. 

Joe died suddenly yesterday. I will miss him a lot.

From one of our exchanges, a few weeks back:

RIP, Joe. You will be missed by this Irish troublemaker. 


  1. Patrice Boivin says:

    I started at Carleton in 1984. Some profs weren’t great, didn’t care about students, but some were awesome.
    After a few years I heard that someone had been appointed as my advisor, but I had never heard from him at all, I can’t even remember his name now. He must not have been one of the awesome profs.
    Met my wife there, my dad was a bit annoyed at her because the Meech Lake Accord fell apart because of the NL Premier and she was from NL. She flatly told him she had nothing to do with the NL Premier’s antics (or the $800 door knobs for his office).

    It’s sad when we hear that good people are gone.

  2. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    My condoleances. You were extremely lucky to have such an impressive advisor. The best of them teach us that in a great democracy, it is not only permitted to be a shit-disturber — it is a duty to take on those in power regardless of one’s political affiliation.

    Our job is to keep them on their toes.

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