150+ Canadians Day 30: Alan Borovoy

Alan Borovoy contributed to peace by advocating for human rights and against discrimination. #Canada150

In 1960, Alan Borovoy started working as secretary of the Jewish Labour Committee in Toronto fighting racism against minority groups in Toronto, particularly Black Canadians. He was also active with organizations such as the National Committee for Human Rights of the Canadian Labour Congress, the Ontario Labour Committee for Human Rights, and the Toronto & District Labour Committee for Human Rights.

In 1962, he had organized activists in Halifax and attracted a great deal of attention by taking up the cause of the residents of Africville, which led to the formation of the Halifax Advisory Committee on Human Rights. A year later, he was at the centre of a successful campaign to introduce legislation to ban racial discrimination in Ontario. When indigenous communities in Kenora approached Borovoy about discrimination and poor government services in the 1960s, he organized a large protest march to city hall bringing in hundreds from neighbouring reserves to demand everything from telephones to an alcohol treatment centre, which were eventually provided.

Mr. Borovoy was the founder and General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and worked with the Canadian Labour Congress Human Rights Committee and was one of the main contributors to the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Commission.

 “I would renounce, therefore, the attempt to create heaven on earth, and focus instead on reducing the hell.”

Editor’s bonus material: Following Mr. Borovoy’s passing in 2015, longtime friend, author, and screenwriter George Jonas, offered this story in the National Post which recalls the time when, in 2008, Borovoy defended outspoken right-wing journalist Ezra Levant during the Human Rights Commission freedom of speech controversy.