Alan Borovoy (1932–2015)

Canada has lost a remarkable champion of civil liberties. Borovoy was best-known as the outspoken general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association for 41 years, until his retirement in 2009. From the obituary in the Toronto Star on May 11:

Alan Borovoy…He opposed the prosecution of notorious figures like neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel and the anti-Semitic schoolteacher Jim Keegstra under Canada’s anti-hate laws when others tried to silence or punish them for their views. “We should not censor those making racist statements but censure them,” he told the Star back in 2000.

Eventually he came to believe that “extremists among equality seekers” posed a danger to liberal values by trying to use hate speech laws and human rights commissions to silence their enemies….

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3 responses to “Alan Borovoy (1932–2015)

  1. Alan was a friend of long standing and I remember the few issues about which we mildly disagreed. He was a disciple of Sydney Hook, an influential but now widely forgotten political philosopher.

  2. Fred Blair

    I had the privilege of hearing Alan Borovoy speak at some length to a small group, in some otherwise-forgotten Continuing Legal Education session. Before that event, I knew only of him through indirect sources, and my impression wasn’t completely favourable.
    After spending that short period in his company, I realized how absolutely wrong my impression had been. What I now retain is a memory of extraordinary intellectual power and integrity. One might not agree with every proposition he advanced, but they were invariably well thought out and rooted in a deep and wise sense of humanity.

  3. David Schatzky

    Alan was both a hero and a friend, who could be counted on for wit, wisdom, courage and bluntness. He defended democratic principles absolutely, at the same time holding little faith in the general population’s capacity to make sound judgements or to appreciate nuanced arguments.