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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, Seed and Stone’s development agent, holds products from the Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Darrel McLeod won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2018 for his first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. His newly-released memoir, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, follows as a sequel. (Black Press Media file)
Critically acclaimed Sooke author releases new memoir

Peyakow follows as a sequel to Darrel McLeod’s first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

RCMP have appealed to the public for help identifying the man. (Black Press Media file image)
Police, dog unit called after man exposed himself at West Shore elementary school

West Shore RCMP credits students, aged 11 and 5, for seeking help

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

The city asking the public if they want to pursue legal action against the province and their decision to override the city on the Victory Church issue. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton ready to sue province over homeless shelter

City council voted unanimously to authorize legal action

Most Read