Interview – Legal Expert – Roy McMurtry – 3 of 3

The Charter Project team filmed and edited interviews with legal experts and others who can offer unique historical perspectives on The Charter, its inception, and how it affects the everyday lives of Canadians. This is the first of three excerpts from our interview with The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, former Chief Justice of Ontario who was deeply involved in the patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.



The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, OC, O.Ont, QC, practised law as a trial counsel for 17 years before being elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1975. Upon election, he was appointed to the Cabinet of Premier William G. Davis as the Attorney General for Ontario, a position he held until 1985. As Attorney General, he oversaw an unparalleled era of law reform in Ontario, including bilingualism in the courts, multiculturalism and family law reform. He was deeply involved in the patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. During that period he also served for four years as the Solicitor General for Ontario.

In 1985, McMurtry was appointed Canada’s High Commissioner (Ambassador) to Great Britain, a post which he held until late 1988. In 1991 he was appointed Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court and then Chief Justice of that Court in 1994. In February 1996 he was appointed Chief Justice of Ontario, a capacity in which he served for over 11 years until May 30, 2007.

Today, McMurtry is a member of the advocacy department in Gowlings’ Toronto office, where he serves as counsel to the Firm. he provides strategic counsel to Gowlings’ clients in both the public and private sectors. Roy also provides a full range of dispute resolution and mediation services and will continue his long standing tradition of public and community service. More recently, the Honourable R. Roy McMurtry was appointed Chancellor of York University.


Other legal expert interviewees include:

  • The Honourable Justice Ian Binnie (former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada)
  • The Honourable Justice Frank Iacobucci (former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada)
  • R. Douglas Elliott (counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada on the Reference Re Same Sex Marriage decision)
  • Senator Jerry Grafstein (advisor to Prime Minister Trudeau when The Charter was drafted)
  • John Whyte   (Constitutional advisor in the Government of Saskatchewan during the years leading up to the patriation of the Constitution)
  • Jean Teillet (Aboriginal rights litigator)
  • André Marin (Ombudsman of Ontario)
  • Patrick Ducharme (Criminal Lawyer, Ducharme Fox LLP)
  • Jill D. Makepeace (Criminal Lawyer, Greenspan Humphrey Lavine Barristers)
  • Windsor Law Professors: Bill Bogart, Bruce Elman, Emir Crowne, David Tanovich, Laverne Jacobs, and Jasminka Kalajdzic.



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