Know Your Rights

Clayton C. Ruby is one of Canada’s leading lawyers, an outspoken proponent of freedom of the press, and a prominent member of the environmental community. Mr. Ruby obtained his undergraduate degree from York University and is currently a Member of the York University Founders’ Society. He received his LL.B. from the University of Toronto and his LL.M. from the University of California (Berkeley).

Mr. Ruby, who specializes in criminal, constitutional, administrative and civil rights law, has devoted his professional career to ensuring that those who are underprivileged and those who face discrimination are given equal access to the legal system of this country.

Many of his cases have been high-profile:

He represented Donald Marshall Jr., who spent 11 years in jail after being wrongly convicted of murder, at the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall Jr. Prosecution, which brought wrongful miscarriages of justice under new and more careful scrutiny.

He negotiated a settlement for the three surviving Dionne quintuplets, who were removed from their parents by the provincial government in 1934 and put on display in Quintland, a commercial theme park designed to boost Ontario’s depression-ravaged economy;

He also obtained an acquittal for Guy Paul Morin, who was wrongfully accused of murdering a child, at Mr. Morin’s first trial. After subsequent appeals and conviction, Mr. Morin showed by DNA evidence that he could not have committed the offense;

He was counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Askov et al, a case that successfully established a constitutional guarantee to a speedy trial, and incidentally resulted in tens of thousands of cases being stopped for unconstitutional delay by the prosecution;

He successfully fought against discrimination policies based on sexual orientation in the Canadian military. As a result, in 1992, the Canadian Armed Forces, under Federal Court Order, discarded all discriminatory and restrictive policies regarding the service of gay military personnel.

He represented Paul Magder in the high-profile conflict-of-interest case against Mayor Rob Ford, which brought the accountability of municipal officials under careful public scrutiny.

He challenged the B.C. Minister of Advanced Education’s decision to consent to Trinity Western University’s proposed law school, which would require prospective students to abstain from same-sex intimacy.  The Minister indicated that he would reconsider his consent on the eve of the hearing and subsequently revoked it.

In addition to his extensive legal practice and advocacy, Mr. Ruby is editor of Canadian Rights Reporter (a series of court reports for lawyers focusing on constitutional rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). He is a member of the Advisory Board of PEN Canada which champions freedom of expression for writers in prison. His published legal writing includes: a textbook for lawyers entitled Sentencing, 8th edition, 2012; and LawLawLaw, 1973.

In the environmental arena, he is the former Chair of Earthroots and was made an honorary director of EcoJustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund) after serving on its board for many years. He has been a director of the Greenpeace Canada Charitable Foundation. In 2008, he was awarded with the Outstanding Commitment to the Environment Award by Earth Day Canada.

In late 2005, Mr. Ruby served as the acting Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, for which he has served as a Bencher (the governing Board) since 1977.   No other lawyer, since the founding of the Law Society in 1797, has been elected a Bencher for so many consecutive terms by the legal profession.

In 2006, Mr. Ruby was made a Member of the Order of Canada.  In addition, for devoting his career to ensuring that those who are underprivileged and those who face discrimination are given equal access to the legal system of this country, Mr. Ruby was awarded a rare Doctor of Laws degree (honoris causa) by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2006.  More recently, in 2011, he was given the Pinnacle Achievement Award at the annual Bryden Alumni Awards hosted by York University.  And in 2012, Mr. Ruby was bestowed with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Clayton Ruby