Montreal

Montreal lawyer James Duggan among 3 dead in Quebec plane crash

A prominent Montreal lawyer was among the three victims of a plane crash that occurred in a remote region of northern Quebec on Friday.

Duggan was labour lawyer who was instrumental in battle to unionize RCMP officers

James Duggan spearheaded a class-action lawsuit on behalf of officers alleging harassment in the force. (Submitted by The Quebec Mounted Police Members' Association)

A prominent Montreal lawyer was among the three victims of a plane crash that occurred in a remote region of northern Quebec on Friday.

Quebec provincial police say 67-year-old James Duggan was aboard the float plane that went down near Lac Boulene, southeast of Chibougamau, while on a fishing trip more than 400 kilometres north of Montreal.

Duggan was a prominent labour lawyer who was instrumental in the battle to unionize RCMP officers, as well as spearheading a class-action lawsuit on behalf of officers alleging harassment in the force.

Just this week, the RCMP voted to have the National Police Federation represent them in collective bargaining — a major step toward unionization.

Frédéric Serre of the Quebec RCMP Members' Association describes Duggan as a tireless advocate for the rights of officers who approached sensitive situations with dignity and respect.

Duggan was recognized for his services to the legal profession with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

"You cannot find a finer human being than Jim," said Christian Leblanc, a fellow lawyer who had been friends with Duggan for about 25 years. 

"I've never heard him criticize a colleague, even if he had a case against her or him."

Leblanc said fishing was one of Duggan's passions, describing him as a "great outdoorsman" and a careful bush pilot. 

In 2016, Duggan was named Advocatus Emeritus by the Quebec Bar — an award that "recognizes the excellence of exemplary members and highlights an exceptional career."

A Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) search-and-rescue plane found the airplane wreckage Friday after picking up a signal from an emergency beacon.

That plane was in the midst of a search for Quebec greenhouse founder Stéphane Roy and his son when it received the distress signal. Roy was piloting a helicopter that went missing on Wednesday north of Montreal.

Duggan died alongside Jacques Bissonnette, 69, and Claude Laplante, 77, as they travelled to a fishing trip. A fourth man survived the crash.

With files from Verity Stevenson and The Canadian Press

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