Obit: Eddie Goodman, lawyer, political power broker (1918-2006)

Eddie (Edwin) Goodman, a prominent lawyer, decorated war veteran, philanthropist and political power broker, died in Toronto from Alzheimer’s and heart disease on August 23, 2006. He was 87 years old.

Head of a large law firm employing nearly 200 lawyers, Goodman was a lifelong Conservative who befriended Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and was a political strategist for several Ontario premiers. He was a member of the Order of Canada and an avid supporter of many cultural institutions including the Royal Ontario Museum and the National Ballet of Canada.

“Mr. Goodman dedicated his life to serving his country,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “His record of achievements, spanning over seven decades reflects the highest standards of patriotism and public service.”

“Eddie was the renaissance man,” said his longtime legal partner, Lionel Schipper.

Born in 1918, Goodman was the only son of lawyer David Goodman and his wife Dorothy (née Soble). His paternal grandfather had emigrated in 1881, at age 11, from Galicia to southwestern Ontario, where he worked as a peddler.

Goodman interrupted his law studies to enlist in active service during World War II, and as a tank squadron leader he was twice wounded in Normandy. He briefly entered provincial politics in 1945, running unsuccessfully in a downtown Toronto riding. He never ran again and was thereafter always content to be a “backroom power broker.”

As Goodman explained in a 1987 interview with the Canadian Jewish News, he believed that Jews have a dual obligation. “There is an obligation to stay with their roots in the Jewish community and to work in the Jewish community, but not to confine themselves or limit themselves only to the Jewish community,” he said. “That’s important to Canada and to our people.”

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney appointed Goodman to the security intelligence review committee, an appointment that required that he be sworn into the Queen’s Privy Council. The appointment reflected the trust Goodman earned as a decorated soldier in World War II and the many charitable and political roles he undertook with honour and determination.

In 1953, after a first failed marriage, Goodman married Suzanne Gross, who died in 1992. He is also predeceased by their daughter Joanne, who was killed in a traffic accident in 1975. He is survived by daughter Diane and her family, and third wife Joan and her children. ♦

Appeared originally in the London Jewish Chronicle. © 2006.