Outspoken Canadian civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby dies at 80

Clayton Ruby, one of Canada’s most outspoken and influential civil rights and criminal defense lawyers, has died. He was 80 years old.

A statement from her Toronto law firm, Ruby Shiller Enenajor DiGiuseppe, said Ruby died peacefully on Tuesday surrounded by her family.

“He taught me that justice is what love looks like in public,” tweeted Annamaria Enenajor, a partner at Ruby’s law firm, who called Ruby a “loving and supportive mentor.”

Ruby officially retired about a year and a half ago, but her profile continued to be prominently displayed on the company‘s website.

During her legal career spanning more than 50 years, Ruby has represented many high-profile clients, including Guy Paul Morinwho was wrongfully convicted and then exonerated after a lengthy public inquiry, in the October 1984 rape and murder of eight-year-old Christine Jessop.

Among her other famous cases, Ruby has represented Michelle Douglas, a soldier fired from the army in 1989 for his sexual orientation. In 1992, shortly before his case went to trial, the military dropped its policies barring LGBTQ Canadians from serving and settled the case.

Douglas commented on social media that Ruby and her partner (now an Ontario Superior Court judge) “raised me” in her fight against the Canadian military.

“He was nice and sweet to me,” Douglas said. “He was neither soft nor nice to the government.”

He was also co-counsel for Donald Marshall Jr..—A native Canadian from Nova Scotia who was wrongly convicted of murder at the age of 17—to the royal commission which, nearly 20 years later, finally exonerated Marshall of the crime.

One of Ruby’s many widely publicized cases was the 1993 acquittal of five women accused of baring their breasts in public in what he called a victory for freedom. of expression. In another in 2012, Ruby was the lawyer for a Toronto citizen who launched a conflict of interest case against controversial former Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

Ruby was also a member of the board of patrons of the medical assistance in dying advocacy organization Dying with Dignity. In 1994, he represented former MP Svend Robinson, who was present during what was then the unlawful medically assisted death of Sue Rodriguez. Robinson has not been charged and assisted dying is now legal in Canada.

Like many others, Robinson in a Tweeter called Ruby “a giant of the legal profession”.

Ruby also launched a constitutional challenge to the law that would have retroactively made confidential adoption records public in the province of Ontario. The law was canceled in 2007 as a result.

In a speech to a group of Toronto university students a few years ago, Ruby said the inspiration for his fight for civil rights and equality was Paul Goodman, a 1950s anarchist philosopher, whose writings “nurtured an entire generation in the 1970s”. according to a report of the event.

A larger-than-life figure, tributes to Ruby poured in on social media from hundreds of lawyers and other admirers.

Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti said “decades of principled advocacy have left an indelible mark on our justice system and on Canadian society.”

Douglas Elliott, another strong advocate for equality rights in Canada, said: ‘Clay was a strong advocate for the left at a time decades ago when there were few such voices in the profession. traditionally conservative legal system. In the bad old days when the criminal law was used as a cudgel of oppression against the gay community, Clay was a rare and reliable direct ally in our fight for freedom.

Ruby “was a mentor and friend to generations of Canadian lawyers. He was a renowned criminal lawyer and a champion of human rights,” former colleagues from neighboring firm Addario Law Group. job on Twitter.

On LinkedIn, personal injury lawyer Richard Lebkowski said of Ruby, “He helped preserve my career before it started and never brought up the subject of payment. He was a gentleman and a consummate professional and he will be missed.

Ruby was awarded the Order of Canada in 2005 and has volunteered with various human rights organizations including PEN Canada, Human Rights Watch and the Sierra Legal Defense Fund.

Ruby is survived by his wife, Superior Court Justice Harriet Sachs, as well as two children and two grandchildren.

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