York University Chancellor Roy McMurtry will be the featured speaker at the next Canada Speaks lecture on Wednesday, March 26, from 1:30 to 2:30pm, in Room 001 Vanier College. McMurtry’s talk is titled “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: A detailed recollection of the events leading to the Constitutional Accord of November 1981”
McMurtry is one of the key players in the long struggle to bring to fruition the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When he was the Attorney-General for Ontario, McMurtry was a member of the Ontario delegation at the constitutional conference in November 1981, which drew up the Charter. Media reports suggested McMurtry, together with Jean Chrétien, who was then Minister of Justice in Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet, and Roy Romanow, who at that point in history was Saskatchewan’s Attorney-General, formed the so-called “Kitchen Cabinet”. The group was responsible for preparing a framework for the Charter, which was approved by the conference.
For his presentation for Canada Speaks, McMurtry will give a first-hand account of the events leading up to this momentous point in Canadian History.
McMurtry, who is former Ontario Chief Justice and Attorney General and Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, is the 12th Chancellor of York University. He was born in Toronto and is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1958. After practicing as a trial lawyer for 17 years, he was elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1975, where he was immediately appointed Attorney General by then-Premier William Davis. As Attorney General, he oversaw important reforms to Ontario’s justice system including bilingualism in the courts, multiculturalism and family law reform. As well, McMurtry argued constitutional cases in the Supreme Court of Canada and played a key role in the negotiations leading to the patriation of the Constitution with an entrenched Charter of Rights in 1982. McMurtry left office in1985 to become Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. In 1996, he was appointed Chief Justice of Ontario after serving as the Chief of the Superior Court of Justice.
McMurtry is the founder and President of the Osgoode Society, a body established in 1979 for the writing of Canadian legal history which to date has published 70 books. In 2007, his significant contributions to the legal profession were recognized with Osgoode Hall Law School’s Award of Excellence (The Robinette Medal) and the President of the Bar Association’s Award of Merit. He also received an honorary degree from York University in 1991. He was invested into the Order of Ontario in January 2008. He was invested as an Officer in the Order of Canada on September 2, 2010.
This lecture series is supported by the Canadian Studies Program, the Department of Humanities, the Department of History, the School of Public Policy & Administration, Office of the Master at McLaughlin College, the Office of the Master at Vanier College, and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.
For more information on upcoming lectures, visit the Canadian Studies Program website.