Sudbury’s Elmer Sopha – 1925-1982 – A Historical Profile

The following profile was originally published in the South Side Story – a Sudbury weekly paper on January 2005.

He was called the “northern gadfly” and was one of Sudbury’s most flamboyant and successful criminal lawyers.

Elmer was born in Cobalt and began his law practice in Sudbury after completing his studies and serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. He ran in the provincial election of 1959 and was elected liberal member of the Ontario Legislature. He was defeated by Bud Germa in the 1977 election and by Floyd Laughren in 1981.

Elmer had a lot to say about everything and no one has been able to match his speeches in the legislature. The press, who spent their time listening to so many boring speeches in the legislature, were all ears when Elmer spoke.

Whether they agreed with him or not, Elmer’s eloquence made the newspapers more often than not. When word got around the legislature that Elmer was giving a speech, people would start flocking to listen because they knew he would always have something interesting to say. In fact, one of his speeches was used as a test for people who were applying for a job at Hansard (the official record keepers). They were required to edit and transcribe it properly in order to get the job.

As can be expected, Elmer had a lot of opinions on a lot of subjects that ranged from comments made on the official dress of judges and lawyers (he thought the black robes should be discontinued because he thought they made the judges and lawyers look like Batman) to his belief that Canada should abolish its ties with the monarchy. What matters is that his colourful speeches, inundated with his great sense of
humour, made people listen and take a greater interest.