Famous Canadian civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby dies at 80

Clayton Ruby, prominent Canadian civil rights lawyer and giant of the legal profession, has died aged 80.

Ruby, who received the Order of Canada in 2005, died Tuesday, CBC News confirmed.

His law firm Ruby Shiller Enenajor DiGiuseppe tweeted that Ruby died peacefully surrounded by his family.

« Clay was a dedicated human rights defender, a champion of the oppressed and a loving friend. Our thoughts are with his family and our entire firm mourns the loss of our leader and mentor. »

In her entry on the Order of the Governor General of Canada website, Ruby is described as « an eminent criminal lawyer whose reputation spans the country. [who] dedicated his career to promoting justice. »

Ruby has donated her time to numerous human rights organizations including PEN Canada, Human Rights Watch and the Sierra Legal Defense Fund.

During her famous career, Ruby took on some of the country’s most notable cases, including the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin, who was accused of killing nine-year-old Christine Jessop in 1984 before being cleared.

Speaking to CBC News in 2020 when police identified Jessop’s killer, Ruby spoke of the « tragedy » of wrongful convictions.

« You never get over it. It’s never like before, » he said.

WATCH | Clayton Ruby reacts to police identification of Christine Jessop’s real killer:

Guy Paul Morin’s former lawyer reacts to police identification of Christine Jessop’s real killer

The National’s Adrienne Arsenault talks to Clayton Ruby who was the defense attorney for Guy Paul Morin, the man wrongly convicted of the murder of Christine Jessop, about the police learning the identity of his killer.

We tend to trust prosecutors who say, ‘Convict this man, we have enough evidence to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt… We trust authority and I think this case has clearly showed people that there are mistakes and that they can be huge ». and inexplicable.

So there’s a more skeptical approach to litigation, and I think that’s a good thing. It makes us all safer. »

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 New Democrat MP Sven Robinson who was present during what was then the unlawful medically assisted death of Sue Rodriguez but was ultimately not charged.

In a tweet Wednesday, Robinson said he was « heartbroken » at the news of Ruby’s death.

« Giant in the legal profession, pillar of the progressive community, and a good and honest man, a mensch, » he wrote.


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