Brian J. Arnold


Posting: 206
June 10, 2021

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Laurel Amalia: 1939-2021

As announced on the Canadian Tax Foundation website, Laurel Amalia, the longtime former editor of the Canadian Tax Foundation, passed away on June 4, 2021 after a battle with cancer.

Laurel was born and grew up in Indiana and did her university degrees in agricultural economics and journalism at Ohio State University and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, respectively. After working as an editor for agricultural publications, she moved to Canada in 1965 and taught journalism at Ryerson University and did freelance editorial work for the Ontario government. In 1979 Laurel became the managing editor for Canadian Tax Foundation publications and editor of the Canadian Tax Journal, positions that she held until her retirement in 2006. She continued to work as a freelance editor for the Foundation until 2015.

I had the good fortune to work closely with Laurel for several years in her capacity as editor for the Foundation. I learned a lot from her and her team of crack editors about writing well and editing. Without exaggeration I can say that, although I did not always agree with their suggested changes, overall my articles and books were substantially improved by their work.

 Laurel would sometimes relate stories about authors whose inflated egos would lead them to reject any changes to their “perfect” prose; she also had many stories about unreliable authors who never met their deadlines. I learned early on from Laurel that not meeting deadlines, especially ones established well in advance, was irresponsible and disrespectful to her and the editorial staff of the Foundation. My advice to young professionals who want to enhance their reputations by writing is: respect your deadlines and if for some reason you cannot do so, inform the editor as soon as possible – either that, or don’t agree in the first place to write something for the Canadian Tax Foundation or other publications with a deadline you cannot meet.

Laurel was a strong woman with strong opinions and a dry sense of humour; as an editor, she was unafraid to criticize poor writing and make constructive suggestions to improve it. Under her leadership, the quality of the articles published in the Canadian Tax Journal improved significantly. Unlike many other professional journals that publish whatever contributions they receive with little editorial work (apart from ensuring that their house style is followed), contributors to the Journal and the conference reports undergo a rigorous process of reference and copy editing. With the support of several executive directors, Laurel was responsible for establishing and maintaining this rigorous editorial process. All contributors to and readers of the Canadian Tax Journal and other Foundation publications owe a debt of gratitude for her lasting contribution to the Foundation’s reputation for the excellence of its publications.

Laurel was an avid reader and book lover. We would regularly make recommendations to one another about books that we liked. One book that I recommended to Laurel was The Tax Inspector by the prolific Australian author Peter Carey. When I jokingly raised the possibility of reviewing the book in the Current Tax Reading feature of the Canadian Tax Journal, which I started in 1983 with Laurel’s enthusiastic support, she loved the idea of exposing tax professionals to a novel and more or less insisted that I do the review (see my review in Current Tax Reading, [1992] 40:4 Canadian Tax Journal at 1042-43).

Not surprisingly to those who knew her, Laurel wrote her own obituary (https://morleybedford.wordpress.com/2021/06/07/laurel-amalia) and I can imagine her quipping that it was the only way she could be sure it would be well written.