CLA Mourns the Passing of Canadian Civil Rights Champion, Alan Borovoy (1932-2015)
(OTTAWA) May 12, 2015. Yesterday evening, civil rights champion, Alan Borovoy passed away at age 83. Borovoy received the 2011 CLA Award for the Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada for his unwavering dedication to social justice and freedom of expression in Canada. An undisputed leader in the civil rights movement in Canada, Mr. Borovoy was a tireless advocate for freedom of expression, along with its corollaries freedom of the press and freedom of association; and equally an activist for equality and procedural fairness.
"We are deeply saddened by the profound loss of such a powerful and compelling voice for freedom of expression" said Alvin Schrader, Chair of CLA’s Intellectual Freedom Advisory Committee.
Mr. Borovoy was one with the Canadian library community, whose core values include a strong
commitment to intellectual freedom and freedom under continual challenge. Mr. Borovoy’s voice has always been there with the Canadian library community’s to combat both censorship and episodic public apathy enabling it, and he has referred to Canada’s librarians as “the Clark Kents of political action.” In 1987-1988, he was a leader in the opposition to Bill C-54, new obscenity legislation that would have drastically curtailed the ability of Canadian libraries to distribute materials. His legacy in public policy advocacy will continue to inspire librarians and library workers for generations to come.
Mr. Borovoy was recruited by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) as General Counsel in 1968, a position he held for 41 years until his retirement in June 2009 at which time CCLA named him General Counsel Emeritus. Prior to joining the CCLA, he had already distinguished himself with other human rights and civil liberties causes and organizations, including activism on behalf of the residents of Africville in 1961 that lead to the formation of the Halifax Advisory Committee on Human Rights, and a protest march against Aboriginal discrimination and poor government services in Kenora in the late 60s.
Mr. Borovoy was a compelling and magnetic speaker: informed, articulate, and passionate. And as one of the most recognizable civil libertarians in Canada, he also knew the value of maintaining a sense of humour while trying to change the world; otherwise, he has said, “you'll go off your rocker." Of attacks from both left and right in his defence of free speech as absolute, he wryly observed, "If you live long enough, you have the opportunity to experience (criticism) every which way."