Gary Maavara (1953-2021)

Gary Maavara

Year Born: 1953

Year Died: 2021

Year of Induction: 2000

Maavara, Gary (1953- )

Gary Maavara was born in Montreal in 1953. As a teenager, he quickly became interested in the world of media and entertainment, and his early entrepreneurial spirit and an interest in music soon had him running successful dances at the local YMCA. Sports also had an early appeal for Gary, and this combination of interests would do much to influence his later career.

What was in fact to evolve into an impressive career in many diverse areas of Canadian broadcasting began with some early experience that Gary gained in 1973-74 as a technician in the Media Centre of the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal.

While attending Boston University, where he achieved  a B.Sc summa cum laude in 1977, Gary found the time to do part-time work with concert promoters Donald K. Donald Productions, and freelance work for the Montreal Alouettes Football Club. He also contrived to get himself involved in part time work with ABC Sports on Monday Night Baseball, automobile racing, U.S. Open Golf, World Cup skiing and gymnastics.

After graduating from Boston U, Gary returned to Montreal. There he continued to be involved in what he would later describe to Canadian Lawyer Magazine as “nuts and bolts work around TV and music” included writing for and producing television shows at CFCF-TV, including such CTV shows as The Julie Show, It’s Your Move, What’s My Line, The Mad Dash and McGowan’s Montreal.

In the late 1970s, a guest on McGowan’s Montreal was Irwin Cotler, then a professor at McGill (and later to become Minister of Justice in Paul Martin’s cabinet). When Gary expressed an interest in law, Cotler advised him to move to Toronto; knowing good advice when he heard it, Gary applied and was accepted at Osgoode Hall, where he completed his studies in 1982. He then articled with the IP law firm of Sim Hughes.

On graduation, Gary joined noted law firm Borden and Elliot, and was called to the Bar in 1983. At Borden and Elliot, Gary practised intellectual property and communications law, and in the process worked with John Hylton, who had previously been General Counsel, and later a Commissioner, at the CRTC. Their clients included CTV, Standard Broadcasting, MGM, several NHL clubs and Loblaw Companies Limited.

One of Gary’s early contributions to CTV’s future was acting with John Hylton as one of two “CRTC Commissioners” at a rehearsal for one of many CTV appearances before the CRTC.

In 1988, then CTV President Murray Chercover recruited Gary to join the Network. Over the next ten years, Gary would hold several senior level positions at CTV, including Vice President – Office of the President, Vice-President, Sports (during the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics), Chief Legal Counsel (responsible, inter alia, for drafting a proposal for ownership restructuring for CTV and the applications for new licences for CTV News Channel and Sportsnet), Vice-President, Operations and Engineering and Group Vice-President, Programming.

With Baton Broadcasting’s acquisition of control of CTV in 1997 came major management changes, with Gary one of those affected. However, after a year of operating as a consultant, with clients including Price Waterhouse and CanWest Global Communications, Gary was offered a position with CanWest. There he would spend the next six years in a variety of Executive and Operating roles, which included Director of Special Projects at Global TV, Chief Operating Officer – Interactive, and Senior Vice-President, Specialty Television.

During his last few years at CTV, Gary had worked closely with John Cassaday, who in 1990 had replaced Murray Chercover as President of the Network. By 2004, Cassaday had become President and CEO Of Corus Entertainment, a company built from the media assets originally owned by Shaw Communications, and spun off as a separate, publicly-traded company in 1999.

It was in 2004 that Gary accepted an offer from John for him to return to Toronto as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Corus Entertainment Inc., overseeing all legal and regulatory affairs associated with the Company’s extensive operations in radio, television, programming, films, books, music, toys and websites. As a member of the senior management team, Gary played a key role in the organization of the company’s move of its 1200 employees from 13 locations to Corus Quay, a new 500,000 square foot state-of-the-art studio and office complex on Toronto’s waterfront, in June 2010.

Gary Maavara has served on the boards of Telelatino, Cosmopolitan Television, Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN), and the YMCA of Greater Toronto and is (2016) a member of the ICT Advisory Board of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. He is also on the advisory board of the Stratford campus of the University of Waterloo. He has also served as a director of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation, Canadian Women in Communication and the Banff World Television Festival.

After five years living with cancer, Gary died on May 24, 2021.