Established by the University of Toronto, the award was named after the late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Bora Laskin (1912-1984). The award honours those who make outstanding contributions to Canadian labour law.
"Bora Laskin was one of this country's greatest jurists and prior to ascending to the court, he was an esteemed arbitrator and law professor,” explained Ponak. “Having my name linked to his in this award is an enormous honour.”
Ponak's contribution to labour law as an educator and an arbitrator is exensive.
As an educator of countless students studying law and industrial relations at the Universities of Calgary and Saskatchewan, he contributed to the intellectual and professional advancement of both Canadian labour law and labour relations professionals. Ponak is also author of numerous highly regarded research articles and co-author of a noted Canadian text on union-management relations. He continues to publish research articles while serving as chair of the editorial board of Canada’s leading academic industrial relations journal Relations industrielles – Industrial Relations.
In addition to being recognized as an educator, Ponak is a highly esteemed arbitrator nationally and internationally. In May of this 2015, he was elected President of the National Academy of Arbitrators, a not-for-profit honorary and professional organization of arbitrators in the United States and Canada. Ponak is the fourth Canadian to hold this honour.
Ponak is also the founder of the annual Calgary Labour Arbitration and Policy Conference, and currently serves on the international advisory board of the Arbitration Council Foundation of Cambodia, a registered NGO that supports labour dispute resolution work by the Arbitration Council in Cambodia's manufacturing sector.
Upon reflecting on his life’s work, Ponak said “My work has always been a labour of love and has brought me great joy. To be celebrated for the things you enjoy doing is very satisfying.”
Ponak is married to Daphne Taras, Dean of the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan. They have four children and one grandchild.