David Stewart Fushtey

Caifu Magazine | by CAIFU Magazine


David Fushtey was a lawyer, a sculptor and a landscape architect:  a renaissance man who loved music, art, ideas and argument. Dave died on October 8, 2019, at St. John Hospice, Vancouver, British Columbia at the age of 64 from a Glioblastoma brain tumour, diagnosedonly in mid-August. Dave’s sisters, many friends and his wife, Moura Quayle, experienced Dave’s end-of-life at his room in the hospice, complete with a sound system, countless recollections of a life well lived, and nurtured by excellent caregivers.

Dave’s end-of-life journey actually started when he experienced a seizure in the Hong Kong airport enroute home after a fruitful week discussing governance with representatives of Huawei in Shenzhen (along with students and colleagues from the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC). It had been a long-held dream to go to China;he studied Mandarin & Cantonese sporadically over the years and could for sure be classified as an avid sinophile.He was perturbed at the vilification of the communication giant, and he made it a mission to understand the company and dispel the common critique of it; in this regard, and in many others, Dave was an avowed contrarian, never content to accept conventional thought.

He was felled by a mysterious seizure in the Hong Kong airport en route home, fortunately treated quickly, and he spent four weeks in hospital “recovering” from what was wrongly assumed to be a stroke. It wasn’t until mid-August in Vancouver, when his seeming recovery began to slip,that a CT Scan revealed the true nature of Dave’s illness. If in life Dave was never one to do things “halfway,” he would not compromise in struggle; he had a very aggressive cancer, a very invasive surgery, but in his battle with pain and decline he kept his sense of humour, requesting red liquorice Twizzlers and handfuls of Skittles to keep his spirits up. He was unfailingly gracious to visitors, grateful they had seen in him the generous man he wished to be.

Dave was born on August 21,1955 in Guelph, Ontario, to Ruth and Steve Fushtey.  Dave attended Centennial High School in Guelph,where he is remembered more as a star athlete than a scholar. Count the sports: basketball, football, volleyball, swimming, track & field, and rugby.  Dave was the school’s athlete of the year two years running – until he injured his knee, an abrupt end to his competitive athletic activities. He took to golf in early middle age, then devoted himself to snooker, and his friends would say in fairness in these matters he did not particularly excel – but not for lack of zeal. He was avid, for want of a compliment.

He “fell” into landscape architecture by accident and guile: he was picked up by the school’s vice-principal hitch-hiking with a friend outside the school. They needed a goodalibi and they mustered one: they claimed they were going up to the University to apply for the Landscape Architecture Program. It not a total fib; his friend was serious about this. As life would have it, the friend did not get accepted,but Dave did. This started his on and off education as a designer – sometimes interrupted by taking time out to work in the oil rigs in the Arctic or a semester in London to ignite his love of stone sculpture.  He completed his landscape architecture degree and used his considerable organizational ability(Dave was certainly a detailed man) in his first “job” to project manage for a large landscape contracting company in Calgary. 

Dave and Moura, his wife, met at an International Federation of Landscape Architects conference in Vancouver in 1981.  Dave’s innate generosity surfaced as he decided to buy a truck and drive Moura and her belongings to Berkeley where she began graduate school.  Dave moved to Vancouver and worked for a variety of firms to get his professional credentials in landscape architecture.  This led to one of the highlights of Dave’s professional life: being a senior planner at EXPO’86, responsible for contract management of the design consultants.  This project brought back a long-time dream to study law. 

In 1979, Dave wrote as he pondered his future: “Law? Law is everything I believe in – discipline, justice, consideration of others…yet could I survive the disappointments and emotionally handle the stress and rarified atmosphere.  I’d like to try…but I won’t compromise my values for acceptance.”  Throughout his career, Dave developed a reputation for defending his values and for integrity in the face of challenge.

At age 30 Dave was accepted into UBC Law School and loved every minute of his legal education.  He was the Senior Editor of the Law Review, went on to Clerk at the BC Supreme Court, then articled with Bob Bauman at what was then Bull Housser Tupper.  Dave gained experience in international law with Ward and Company as the BC AirCare Program Counsel, then on to Smith, Lyons, Torrance, Stevenson & Mayer, Associates before really finding his feet at MPR Teltech Ltd as Legal Counsel for Transactions and IP.  When MPR was sold, Dave’s perfect job “disappeared” – but it opened other opportunities.  What also disappeared was Dave’s commute to SFU Discovery Park on his 1100 GS. Every April, Dave would get the “motorcycle bug.” He finally convinced Moura that this was a good idea. He downsized to a 200cc VESPA and coaxed her to get her licence so she too could have one to make the trip to Nanaimo to his building project of a lifetime. Dave had a stone studio and built a significant stone bridge over the creek – by hand!

Dave actively followed his dreams. He had fallen in love with the art of stone sculpture during a UK study abroad in the late 70s, so he joined George Pratt’s sculpture studio in 1998. This passion led him to starta program called “Stoneworks” for street youth. You can find his large public art pieces in Richmond, Nanaimo and other locations. 

But his commitment to words and the rule of law drew him back to create The Governance Counsel in 2002.  Dave became known as the Governance Guy. As a corporate-commercial lawyer, respect for specialized languages and building strategic oversight skills focused his passion on governance – the effective exercise of informed authority. For Dave, governance was a learned skill so he developed the Principled Governance™ approach and the Governance Platform™ for The Governance Counsel™, including orientation and education protocols, tools and briefing materials on hot topics. It lent him an identity that served him professionally for life. In turn Dave worked with clients to helpthem with their governance challenges and to “get along.”

From 2011-2014 Dave was a Fellow at the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University(SFU),where he valued the staff and students of the Centre. He was constantly opening doors for students and paying for them to attend lunches and conferences. He went out of his way to express gratitude and appreciation to them for their work. From 2012-2015, he was a Senior Fellow at Beedie School of Business Centre for Corporate Governance and Risk Management.

Most importantly, Dave had a beautiful mind, a termcoined bySimon Kuper, a columnist in the Financial Times. Dave treated every situation as a learning opportunity and could clear his mind to really see the person he was talking with.  This made him a great mentor for students and young professionals. He was always there for people, ready to share insight, work through dilemmas, and connect them into his network. He was active in the Board of Trade’s Leaders of Tomorrow Program and mentored students from SFU and UBC.  Dave was a wonderful teacher – he truly wanted to help people understand how legal and regulatory systems should evolve to enable positive relationships in our complex world.

Dave gathered insights from a diversity of realms; he was trans-disciplinary to the core, combining the critical and creative voices of law and design. Dave had the imagination to come up with ideas and the humility and technique to test them again the data.

Most importantly, Dave did the work he wanted to do, not the work the world sought to impose on him, even if there was a cost to his career or income.  Not many people move from the oilrigs to landscape architecture to law to artist to governance.

And, people with beautiful minds say what they think is true.  Dave certainly did that!

Dave’s beautiful mind wrote (over a 10-year period) and publishedin May 2019, The Director and the Manager:  Law and Governance in a Digital Age:  Machiavelli had it Easy. It was his life’s work in large measure and in a large package: a nearly-1000-page text on the direction for the emerging discipline of governance. This text presents Dave’s research and a market-tested decision-framework for comparative law, market practice, and human nature in the vital strategic-oversight role of governance. Dave believed that the how and why of governance systems link the human condition and the rule-of-law in the digital age.  Machiavelli had it Easy was a celebration of years of thinking, researching, writing, editing and compilation. It was a fitting finale of a life of reflection, innovation and expression.

Dave was also passionately involved in politics on the civic, national and international levels. He was part of the team that wrote Creating Opportunity:  The Liberal Plan for Canada, better known as the “Red Book” in the Jean Chretien government, its blueprint for the country.

Dave was definitely a people person.  Relationships with in-laws are always a bit of a crap-shoot.  With Moura’s father, Dave had a monosyllabic relationship – but so did most people unless they could talk about oysters, clams and geoducks. Moura recently found all the cards that Dave sent to her mother.  This emphasized about how much he cared for her, paid attention to her, and sent her special coins and stamps and just a “thinking about you.” 

There were little and large things about which Dave can be remembered: his wonderful smile lit up a room, and his tireless pursuit of justice for politics and humanitarian causes, including support for women and diversity of culture. He valiantly tried to keep small independent businesses alive – bookstores, grocery stores, tea shops. He was particular about where to sit in restaurants, eager to entertain, and endlessly civil.

We have lost a beautiful mind.