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Claire L'Heureux-Dubé, CC, GOQ (born September 7, 1927) served as a justice on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1987 to 2002. She was the first woman from Quebec and the second woman appointed to this position.


Personal history

She was born Claire L'Heureux in Quebec City in 1927. She was the oldest of four girls raised by a mother who spent forty years in a wheel chair as a result of multiple sclerosis. In 1951, she graduated from the law faculty of Université Laval and entered private practice in Quebec. She was appointed as a judge to the Quebec Superior Court in 1973 and to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1979.

She married Arthur Dubé in 1957 and gave birth to a son and a daughter. Her husband committed suicide in 1978, which later became a focus of public attention in the very public debate with Alberta Court of Appeal Justice John McClung over the ruling in R. v. Ewanchuk. Her son died in 1994.

She was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003. In 2004, she was made a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec.

She is currently active as the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Maison de justice de Québec, a pilot project in improving access to justice in Quebec City.


L'Heureux-Dubé is typically remembered as one of the most prolific dissenters of the Court. Her judicial view was atypical for her time and often clashed with the majority of the Court. Her writing style and her tendency to use social science research in her reasons made for considerably lengthy writings.

Among her more controversial decisions include her reasons in Moge v. Moge [1992] 3 S.C.R. 813 where she took a major departure from the practiced standard of judicial notice by allowing for a broad range of social studies data to be given judicial notice as a legislative fact. Another famous dissent was in Canada (Attorney General) v. Mossop, [1993] 1 SCR 554 where she alone acknowledged that the meaning of family is not fixed and should be read purposively to adapt to the changing times and it should include same-sex couples.

Her style was often openly confrontational and harshly critical of her judicial colleagues, in particular Chief Justice Antonio Lamer, which some critics felt was unbecoming a justice of the Supreme Court.

In a style reminiscent of Lord Denning M.R., in the case of Willick v. Willick, [1994] 3 S.C.R. 670, she quoted a dictum she made in an earlier judgment, with which she "most heartily" agreed.

As the author of a unanimous opinion in Hudson v. Spraytech & ChemLawn in 2001, the judge is featured prominently in the film, A Chemical Reaction, by Brett Plymale (2009).

See also

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Julien Chouinard
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
April 15, 1987 – July 1, 2002
Succeeded by
Marie Deschamps



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