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Alan Borovoy, Canadian civil rights advocate

The Story

Alan Borovoy is a lawyer, an activist, an author ... and a practical joker. As spokesman for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Borovoy knows the value of maintaining a sense of humour while trying to change the world - otherwise, he says, you'll "go off your rocker." In this 1970 interview with Barbara Frum, Borovoy reveals his penchant for cunning stunts and ridicule, methods he believes are imaginative ways to lawfully achieve change through the democratic process. The two also discuss civil rights, civil disobedience and the differences between the two movements in Canada and the United States.

Medium: Television
Program: Weekday
Broadcast Date: March 26, 1970
Guest(s): Alan Borovoy
Interviewer: Barbara Frum
Duration: 10:43

Did You know?

• The Canadian Civil Liberties Association was started in Toronto in 1964 by a group of citizens alarmed at provincial legislation that would have drastically changed police powers.


• Alan Borovoy became chief spokesperson for the association in 1968 and is still recognized as one of the leaders in the Canadian civil rights movement.


• Borovoy described the mission of the CCLA as follows: "Our strategy has always been to raise hell without breaking the law."


• Admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1958, Borovoy did not intend to go into private law practice when he finished law school in 1956. He was born in Toronto in what he called "a small, upper-working class island of Jews in a sea of anti-Semitism." This upbringing politicized him at an early age when he understood that justice for the Jewish people was best protected by having justice for all people.


• In the spring of 2009, Borovoy announced his retirement effective June 30. The CCLA named Nathalie Des Rosier General Counsel beginning July 1.

• On May 12, 2015, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association announced that Borovoy had died. He was 83.



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