For Immediate Release
August 15, 2008
QUÉBEC CITY – The Honourable Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, formerly of the Supreme Court of Canada, has been chosen as the Canadian Bar Association's (CBA) 2008 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference (SOGIC) Ally Award winner.
“The Honourable Claire L’Heureux-Dubé’s work at the Supreme Court inspired major changes in the legal status of gays, lesbians and other communities that have traditionally been marginalized on the basis of their gender or sexuality,” said Marie Laure Leclercq, member of the CBA’s Standing Committee on Equity. “Her judicial efforts were instrumental in bringing sexual orientation discrimination within the ambit of the Charter.”
The Honourable Madame L'Heureux-Dubé retired from the Supreme Court in 2002 and remains one of the country’s foremost activists in promoting human rights through equality. Her expansive equality judgments continue to influence courts in this country and abroad.
One of the many landmark decisions by the Supreme Court during the Honourable Madame L’Heureux-Dubé’s tenure was Vriend v. Alberta , which concerned an employee of a private religious college in Edmonton who had been dismissed because of his sexual orientation. He had been prevented from making a complaint under the Alberta Individual Rights Protection Act because the legislation did not include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination. The Supreme Court ruled that omission was in violation of the Charter.
Speaking at a 2006 conference in Ireland, the Honourable Madame L’Heureux-Dubé said “a powerful concept of substantive equality” elaborated by Canada’s Supreme Court over the past two decades has made it possible “to bring sexual orientation discrimination into the purview of the Charter, eliminate most forms of discrimination on the basis of sexuality, and even open up civil marriage to same-sex couples in Canada.”
Her contribution to law in Canada has been recognized by the establishment of the Claire L'Heureux-Dubé Social Justice Fund at the University of Ottawa. In addition to the many Canadian honours she has received, she was the recipient of the American Bar Association's Margaret Brent Award, and has served as the president of the International Commission of Jurists. She was named a Companion to the Order of Canada in 2003.
The Honourable Claire L’Heureux-Dubé received a LL.L cum laude from Laval University in 1951. In 1973, she was appointed to the Québec Superior Court, and in 1979 to the Québec Court of Appeal. In 1987, she became the first woman from Québec appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The SOGIC Ally Award recognizes contributions made in the cause of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited people. The Award will be presented at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008 in the Les Plaines room, Hilton Québec Hotel during the Touchstone Reception held as part of the 2008 Canadian Legal Conference in Québec City. The event is open to accredited journalists who have registered with the CBA Media Centre.
The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.
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CONTACT: Hannah Bernstein, Canadian Bar Association, Aug. 15-19, Québec City Convention Centre, room 2103, Tel: 418-649-5218; E-mail: email@example.com.