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Judge Thomas Gove, champion of child and family welfare, pioneered the use of community court and alternative dispute resolution

The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) will present a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, to the Honourable Thomas J. Gove (retired) at its 2022 Spring Convocation in recognition of his outstanding and sustained contributions to justice, public safety and service.

“It is our privilege to honour Judge Thomas Gove for his more than 45 years of service in the justice system, first as a lawyer and then as a provincial court judge for 31 years,” said Dr. Michel Tarko, President and CEO of JIBC.

“Judge Gove has earned a reputation for fairness and compassion and for using tools at his disposal to help people receive treatment and help them get onto better paths. His approach has exemplified JIBC’s vision of safer communities and a more just society.”

Retired Provincial Court Judge Thomas Gove
Retired Provincial Court Judge Thomas Gove will be recognized with an honorary degree at JIBC's Spring Convocation on June 9.

Judge Gove’s legal career started in 1974 when he was called to the B.C. bar. For 16 years he served as a lawyer specializing in family, child welfare and criminal law. Known for his work representing the Province of British Columbia in child protection cases and defending young offenders, he was also one of the first lawyers in Canada to represent children in custody disputes.

He was appointed a judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia in 1990 and in 1994 he was appointed by the provincial government as the Commissioner on the Gove Inquiry into Child Protection. The resulting report led to the creation of the Ministry for Children and Families, the provincial Children’s Commissioner, and many reforms of the child protection system in B.C.

Judge Gove helped spearhead the creation of Vancouver’s Downtown Community Court (DCC) for which he was the presiding judge from its launch in 2008. The DCC uses a problem-solving approach to moving offenders convicted of less serious crimes out of the criminal justice system and into drug treatment, housing and employment.

Judge Gove was also one of the pioneers of establishing alternative dispute resolution in child custody court cases, paving the way for mediation becoming a standard process today. He retired in July 2021.

In 1996 JIBC recognized Judge Gove with the first Anthony P. Pantages, Q.C., Award for his significant contribution in the field of justice for the benefit of British Columbians. In 2002 he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding and exemplary contributions to his community and Canada as a whole.

Judge Gove earned a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia.

The 2022 Spring Convocation will be held at the New Westminster campus on June 9 to recognize approximately 700 graduates who have completed certificates, diplomas and degrees at JIBC.


Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) is Canada’s leading public safety educator with a mission to develop dynamic justice and public safety professionals through its exceptional applied education, training and research. JIBC offers internationally recognized education that leads to certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees and graduate certificates; exceptional continuing education for work and career-related learning and development; and customized contract training to government agencies and private organizations worldwide. Our education provides professionals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to excel at every stage of their career contributing to safer communities and a more just society.