Education & Training

The National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law

Terrorists, Hurricanes and Viruses: What's Next?

March 13, 2006
Stetson University College of Law, The Great Hall, 1401 61st Street South, Gulfport, FL

Dr. James G. Young has recently been appointed Special Advisor to the Minister, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for the Government of Canada. At one point during his tenure with the Province of Ontario, Dr. James Young held three concurrent positions. He was appointed Chief Coroner and General Inspector of Anatomy for the province of Ontario on March 31, 1990. On June 1, 1994, he was assigned the position of Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Safety Division, Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services (as of April 15, 2002, the ministry's name was changed to the Ministry of Public Safety and Security). Most recently on June 26, 2002, Dr. Young was appointed Ontario's first Commissioner of Public Security.

Dr. Young is responsible for maintaining and enhancing physical and economic security in Ontario by working with a number of diverse partners and stakeholders located both within and outside the province. The Assistant Deputy Minister oversees: Emergency Measures Ontario; the Centre of Forensic Sciences; the Office of the Fire Marshal; and the Office of the Chief Coroner. This position is also responsible for administering the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

From April 1994 to June 1997, he was appointed an Associate Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Since July 1997, he has held the position of Associate Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. In April 2001, he became an Associate Professor in Forensic Sciences, University of Toronto at Mississauga.

Dr. Young has held prominent positions responding to numerous national and international disasters and emergency situations. On April 20 2002, he supervised the autopsies of four Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan under friendly fire by the United States. In September 2001, he was appointed Chief Medical, Emergency and Forensic Services Adviser for the Canadian Consulate General. In this capacity, he was responsible for coordinating the efforts to identify 24 Canadians thought to be missing and presumed dead as a result of the terrorist activities which occurred at the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.

He held a key role in the province's successful response to the emergency concerning the January 1998 ice storm which devastated eastern Ontario. He was responsible for leading the central operation and communicated the results to the public through the media.

In July 1998, he led a five member international medical team from Great Britain, the United States and Canada to examine the circumstances surrounding the sudden and unexpected death of Chief Moshood Abiola, the elected Nigerian President who was imprisoned before taking office. Chief Abiola, died in jail on July 7th while meeting a group of officials from the United States who were visiting him in custody. Following his death, there was rioting in the streets which resulted in several deaths. The investigation team was established to determine the cause and manner of death and to de-escalate the rising tensions in the country.

In September/October 1998, he provided expert support and guidance to the Chief Medical Examiner of Nova Scotia in managing the entire process required to identify the victims of Swiss Air flight number 111 which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia on September 2, 1998 killing all 229 people aboard. He coordinated the collection of ante-mortem files, the forensic examination of the remains, and the cross referencing of the information collected so that positive identifications could be made and communicated to the next-of-kin.

Prior to his appointment as Chief Coroner, Dr. Young served as the province's Deputy Chief Coroner for just over two years. In October 1982, Dr. Young was appointed Regional Coroner for Metropolitan Toronto, Ontario's largest regional jurisdiction. In 1985, his duties were broadened as he was appointed the position of Regional Coroner for Central Region. Dr. Young served as an investigative coroner for Simcoe County from 1977 to 1982. During this time he investigated and inquested a wide variety of cases.

Dr. Young has reviewed cases and given expert advice throughout Canada, many states of the United States and several countries including Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Bermuda and England. As Chief Coroner, Dr. Young is responsible for overseeing various committees such as: the Anaesthesia Advisory; Geriatric and Long Term Care Review; Maternal Death Review and Paediatric Review Committees.
    Currently, he is affiliated with several associations:
  • Vice President and Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences;
  • Board Member and Past President of the International Coroners' Association;
  • Past-President of the Toronto Medico-Legal Society;
  • Member of the Canadian Association of Chief Coroners and Medical Examiners;
  • Member of the Ontario Coroners' Association;
  • Public Representative, Governing Council, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario;
  • Member of the Committee on the Mentally Disordered Offender, Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services;
  • Member of the Mercury Study Programme Committee (in conjunction with the Federal Government);
  • Member of the Ministry of Health's Trauma Registry Advisory Committee.
    Past affiliations include the following positions:
  • The American Academy of Forensic Sciences: Member of the Ethics Committee; Chair, General Section; Secretary, General Section; Chairperson, General Section Programme, (February 14 - 19, 1993);
  • Chair, General Section, Membership Criteria Review and Promotions Review Committee; General Section, Membership and Screening Committee;
  • The International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners: Chairman, Board of Directors; Past President; and President;
  • The Toronto Medical Legal Society: President, Advisory Board Member, Second Vice President, Third Vice President; Secretary; Co-Chair, and Member of the Programme Committee;
  • Member, Special Investigation Unit (SIU) Protocol Committee, Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services;
  • Member, Board of Directors, Toronto Safety Council;
  • Member of the Minister's Committee on Drinking and Driving;
  • Member on the Inter-ministerial Committee on Child Abuse;
  • Member of the Labour Management Health and Safety Committee;
  • Member of the Ministry of Solicitor General's Steering Committee on Access to the Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
  • Member of the Ontario Medical Association including Member of the Association's Accidental Injuries Committee and
  • Member of the Hospitals and Rural Farm Safety Committee;
  • President of the Caduceus Club;
  • Member of the Paediatric Trauma Committee affiliated with the Hospital for Sick Children;
  • Member of the Children's Bike Helmet Coalition.
Dr. Young has an outstanding scholastic record. He graduated from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine in 1975. Throughout his eight years of university Dr. Young served on a variety of faculty and student committees and worked for the Globe and Mail as a sports writer. In this capacity, he covered a full range of major sporting events. Upon receiving his medical degree, Dr. Young interned at the Scarborough General Hospital where he obtained extensive training in obstetrics and neurosurgery. He was the Chief Intern and his responsibilities included overseeing a team of twelve interns.

Dr. Young is the recipient of the 2001 Gerber-Buzbee Award presented by the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners for outstanding contribution to the Association. He received an Appreciation Award in June 2001 from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA). In 2000, Dr. Young received the John R Hunt Award from the General Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences for outstanding contribution to forensic sciences. He received two Ontario Government Amethyst Awards for work on the Swiss Air Crash flight 111 (1999) and the 1998 Ice Storm and the Douglas Leer Award presented by the Council on Suicide Prevention of Metropolitan Toronto in recognition for his contribution and assistance into suicide prevention research (1991). Dr. Young has also been very active with the Ministry of Solicitor General's United Way (Chair in 1988 and Co-Chair in 1987) and Federated Health Campaigns (Chair, Special Events 1986).

Throughout his distinguished career as a coroner, Dr. Young has presided over numerous high profile inquests examining a broad spectrum of issues such as: the quality of institutional care; the quality control of medical procedures, devices and equipment including liposuction and blood bags; midwifery and home deliveries; police shootings; deaths in custody; mandatory drug testing in the workplace; the accessibility of illicit drugs to youth in the street; and water safety.

In August 1992, Dr. Young completed a very complex inquest into the death of Jonathan Yeo. The inquest examined bail issues, police investigative procedures, the management and role of the health care system, and the evaluation of psychiatric disorders that relate to violence and the laws and regulations that restrict the transfer of such information to police and custodial officials who are responsible for dealing with these cases.

Dr. Young is a regular lecturer at: the Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto; the Faculty of Medicine at Queen's University at Kingston; the Faculty of Nursing and Department of Funeral Services at Humber College; the Department of Ambulance Services at Centennial College; the Ontario Police College in Alymer; the Ontario Provincial Police Academy in Orillia; CO Bick College (Toronto Police Services Academy); and the Ontario Fire College. Dr. Young lectures extensively to provincial organizations which include: the Law Society of Upper Canada, both at special programmes and at the Bar Admission Course and at the annual Ontario Crown Attorneys School. He also lectures at a wide variety of national and international conferences across Canada and the United States including: the Canadian Academy of Forensic Sciences; the American Academy of Forensic Sciences; the International Association of Coroners; and the FBI. In November 1992, Dr. Young was the keynote speaker concerning medico-legal issues involved with establishing an Organ Donor Programme at the Japanese Ethics Association in Koyota, Japan. He also lectured concerning overcoming medico-legal problems and establishing an Organ Donor Programme at Tokiwa University in Mito, Japan. In 1999, he lectured to the Israeli Police on forensic issues.

Upon graduating medical school and desiring a medical career that would allow him to practice a wide range of medicine Dr. Young moved to Elmvale Ontario where he established and ran an extremely successful and flourishing general practice. His hospital privileges included both the Penetanguishene and Huronia General Hospitals. Dr. Young assumed a variety of administrative responsibilities at the Penetanguishene General Hospital including: President of the medical staff; Chairman of Long Range Planning; Chairman of Admission, Discharge and Utilization; and Head of the Chronic Care Unit.

Throughout his career as a physician and coroner Dr. Young has been a prolific writer. From 1981 to 1984 he was a contributing writer to the Ontario Medical Association. He regularly contributed medical columns on varying topics for publication in weekly newspapers throughout Ontario. He has co-authored many publications including: The Roles of Coroner and Counsel in Coroner's Court; "A Coroner's View Regarding the Right to Die Debate", Suicide in Canada: Inquests do good - not harm; Preventable Pediatric Trauma Deaths in a Metropolitan Region; Accidental deaths in Ontario children: implications for prevention; and Guns and Suicide: Possible Effects of Some Specific Legislation.