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

Kate Cram and her team at Old Town Ice Cream are thrilled to be open for business. (Cole Schisler photo)
Old Town Ice Cream opens up right on time for summer

Located at 539 1st Avenue, Old Time Ice Cream is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Volunteers Alex Cook, Ron Dashwood, and Bill Drysdale have been hard at work restoring the old Ladysmith train station. (Cole Schisler photo)
Train station restoration on track for future community open house

Community is asked to give feedback on what they think the best use is for the station

Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend organizer Connie Crocker. (Photo submitted)
Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend online June 19-21

Event’s been in the planning stages since February without knowing COVID implications

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read