CTR Home Internal  Relations and Communications Home About CTR Publication Schedule CTR Archives

November 8, 2001 A passion for equality, social justice: honorary doctorate recipient



Claire L'Heureux-Dubé

Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé

The Honorable Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, is a legal trailblazer and unwavering defender of the Charter rights of women, children, aboriginals and minority groups.

She graduated cum laude from the law school at Université Laval in 1951, during the first decade that women in Quebec were allowed to practice law. Called to the Quebec Bar the following year, she spent more than 15 years building a practice as a divorce lawyer.

In 1973, Justice L’Heureux-Dubé was one of the first women appointed to the Superior Court of Quebec, where she contributed significantly to the province’s progression towards jurisprudence rooted in the concepts of equality and social justice.

She was appointed to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1979, and the Supreme Court of Canada in 1987. She is now the longest-serving judge on Canada’s highest court.

She has also been active in the International Society on Family Law, the National Council of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation, and the International Academia of Comparative Law. In 1998, she was president of the International Commission of Jurists, in Geneva.

Justice L’Heureux-Dubé has been called the most liberal-minded judge ever appointed to the Supreme Court. She has been labelled by some as a “feminist” or “activist” judge, and has been a frequent, and sometimes sole, dissenting voice on the bench.

Among her many accomplishments, Justice L’Heureux-Dubé has imparted pioneering judgments on the definition of equality in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She has been credited with leading the Supreme Court in its rejection of a technical and formalistic definition, in favour of a substantive and contextual definition.