About Philip Slayton

Philip Slayton

Philip Slayton
Photo: Pam Purves

After studying law at Oxford University as a Manitoba Rhodes Scholar, Philip Slayton clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. Then, for thirteen years, he pursued an academic career, teaching at McGill University and becoming dean of law at the University of Western Ontario. Philip then went into legal practice with a major Canadian law firm in Toronto, and worked on many of the biggest corporate and commercial transactions of the time. He retired from the practice of law in 2000.

Since leaving legal practice Philip Slayton has written eight books. Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex and Madness in Canada’s Legal Profession was published in hard cover by Viking Canada in 2007 and in paperback by Penguin Canada in 2008. Mighty Judgment: How the Supreme Court of Canada Runs Your Life was published in hard cover in 2011 by Allen Lane and as a paperback by Penguin Canada in 2012. In 2013 Philip independently published Bay Street: A Novel, a legal thriller. The Toronto Star described Bay Street as “expert and engaging… exciting and hilarious… a first rate crime novel…” Mayors Gone Bad was published in hard cover by Viking in May of 2015. How To Be Good: The Struggle Between Law and Ethics (with Patricia Chisholm), a collection of essays first published in Canadian Lawyer magazine, was published in 2017. The Future of Tennis (with Peter Figura) was published in 2018 by Skyhorse Publications of New York. Nothing Left to Lose: An Impolite Report on the State of Freedom in Canada was published by Sutherland House in 2020. Antisemitism: An ancient hatred in the age of identity politics was published by Sutherland House in March 2023. Philip is currently working on a novel set in 19th century sub-Saharan Africa.

Philip divides his time between Toronto and Nova Scotia. He is married to the writer Cynthia Wine. He has been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow; President of the Canadian Rhodes Scholars Foundation; Co-Chairman of the Canadian Campaign for Oxford; a Governor of Sheridan College; and president of PEN Canada. In 1998, Oxford University named him a “Distinguished Friend” of the University. Philip and Cynthia were founders (in 2002) of the Port Medway Readers Festival, a highly successful summer literary festival on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, and founders (in 2017) of the Seely Hall Society, dedicated to promoting interest in the local history of Port Medway and the surrounding area and helping restore, protect, and use as a local resource, the historic Port Medway building known as Seely Hall.