Judge who led SARS, Bernardo inquiries had 'thirst for facts'

The judge who headed inquiries into Ontario's devastating SARS outbreak and the police investigation of sex killer Paul Bernardo has died following an lengthy illness.

Archie Campbell, a judge whose "insatiable curiosity" served him well as the head of inquiries into Ontario's devastating SARS outbreak and the police investigation into sex killer Paul Bernardo, has died. He was 65.

Judge Archie Campbell was appointed to the bench in 1986. ((Charla Jones/Canadian Press))
"To those who know him, he was really quite a unique individual who was in many ways inspirational to everyone who was close to him," said Toronto lawyer and colleague Doug Hunt. "He's going to be sadly missed."

Campbell died Tuesday evening following a lengthy illness, a family member said.

In his report on the SARS outbreak, Campbell found systemic problems in hospitals and provincial government agencies.

Hunt, chief counsel for the commission, said Campbell's work on the SARS report showed his "thirst for facts" andnoted the report will resonate for years, especially when the province deals with pandemics.

Campbell also spent six months probing the police investigation of Bernardo, concluding police made dozens of mistakes.

Hunt, who first met Campbell in 1973 when articling as a young lawyer in the attorney general's office, said the judge's defining qualities were "his humility, his compassion and respect for others no matter what their station in life was."

Campbell had an "incredible sense of humour that was part of everything he did" and had a "really insatiable curiosity about issues he was dealing with, problems that he had to confront," said Hunt.

A lawyer since 1969, Campbell was a judge with Ontario's Superior Court of Justice.

He was appointed to the bench in 1986 and became regional senior justice of the Ontario court for the Toronto region from 1993 to 1996.

Campbell was married with two adult children from a previous marriage.