Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette invests Joseph Arvay as an Officer of the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall on May 10, 2018 in Ottawa. British Columbia’s attorney general paid tribute Tuesday in the legislature to Arvay, saying he reformed Canada’s legal landscape and fought for the rights of all Canadians throughout his lifetime. David Eby said the death of Arvay, 71, will leave an indelible mark and a gap that will not be filled. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai

Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette invests Joseph Arvay as an Officer of the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall on May 10, 2018 in Ottawa. British Columbia’s attorney general paid tribute Tuesday in the legislature to Arvay, saying he reformed Canada’s legal landscape and fought for the rights of all Canadians throughout his lifetime. David Eby said the death of Arvay, 71, will leave an indelible mark and a gap that will not be filled. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai

B.C. ministers pay tribute to Joseph Arvay, lawyer and civil rights champion

The death of Joseph Arvay, 71, will leave an indelible mark, ministers say

British Columbia’s attorney general paid tribute Tuesday to a lawyer he credited with reforming Canada’s legal landscape and fighting for the rights of all Canadians throughout his lifetime.

David Eby said the death of Joseph Arvay, 71, who successfully argued constitutional cases supporting same-sex marriage benefits, LGBTQ rights and the right to assisted dying, will leave an indelible mark and a gap that will not be filled.

Eby told the legislature Arvay revolutionized a section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing equality to all Canadians with successful cases in the Supreme Court of Canada on book censorship and the right to assisted death.

“He was unapologetic and unafraid on asserting the rights of even unpopular groups at the time,” said Eby. “He dramatically reformed the legal landscape in Canada. I am so grateful for the chance to know him. I am so grateful for his work promoting the rights of all Canadians.”

Among Arvay’s most recent cases was his appearance in Federal Court on behalf of 15 young people seeking to compel Ottawa to develop a climate recovery plan based on science.

Earlier this year, Arvay was in the B.C. Supreme Court representing Canadian Doctors for Medicare, the B.C. Health Coalition, two doctors and two patients in a long-running legal battle over public and private health care.

Murray Rankin, B.C.’s Indigenous relations and reconciliation minister, told the legislature Arvay was a legal warrior who changed the course of history for many people in Canada who faced discrimination and injustice.

“Were it not for Joe Arvay, marriage equality in this country would not exist,” he said. “Were it not for Joe Arvay, discrimination against LGBTQ2+ people in our schools and in our bookstores would have persisted. Were it not for Joe, people suffering with interminable pain would not have been able to avail themselves of medically assisted dying.”

Rankin said he and Arvay were law partners and friends. He said Arvay appeared at the Supreme Court of Canada more than 75 times.

“He was like a brother to me,” said Rankin. “He was the bravest person I ever knew and he made all of us better for having lived in our world.”

A profile of Arvay on his law firm’s website says he held law degrees from Western University in London, Ont., and Harvard.

When he was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2017, the citation mentioned that he often took on the landmark cases he was known for on a pro bono basis.

“With keen legal acumen and dedication to social justice, he has played an unparalleled role in shaping the interpretation of the law on matters of civil rights and liberties.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

The City of Victoria is proposing a northern contraction from Haultain Street to Bay Street with a western contraction from Cook Street to Chambers Street for Fernwood. (Illustration/Google Maps)
Community association calls for input on Victoria boundary changes

City of Victoria proposes changes to neighbourhood borders

After seizing a handgun from his home on Tuesday, Victoria police arrested a wanted man on Wednesday after he fled officers on his bike. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man wanted on several warrants flees Victoria officers on bike

He was arrested after a brief struggle, transported to hospital with injuries

Divyesh Nagarajan, third from the left, has founded the Be My Friend project to bring support and companionship to vulnerable youth and address North Saanich’s food security challenges. (Courtesy of Divyesh Nagarajan)
Greater Victoria teen looks to connect vulnerable youth with a buddy, bolster food security

Be My Friend project was founded by St. Michaels University School student Divyesh Nagarajan

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Gorge skull fragment could bring closure to one Greater Victoria missing person case

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

(Black Press Media file photo)
UPDATE: Sooke Road reopens after gas leak at Colwood Corners

SD62 warns afternoon buses could be delayed

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Most Read