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New chief commissioner nominated for Ontario Human Rights Commission

Friday, July 09, 2021 @ 2:01 PM | By John Chunn

The Ontario government has nominated Patricia DeGuire as the next chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

According to a press release from the Ministry of the Attorney General, DeGuire was called to the bar in 1993 and is currently a deputy judge of the Superior Court of Justice. Over the last 20 years she has served Ontario in several leadership roles, including the vice-chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. She has also been a member of the board of directors of Legal Aid Ontario, the Ontario Board of Parole and the Immigration and Refugee Board.

“I thank and commend interim chief commissioner Ena Chadha for her exemplary public service leading a remarkable team through a year of singular challenges related to COVID-19,” Attorney General Doug Downey said in the release. “Patricia DeGuire’s demonstrated knowledge and experience will build on the incredible progress made over this past year and throughout the 60 years of the commission’s ground-breaking work to advance and protect human rights. I would like to offer warm congratulations on this nomination.”

“I am deeply honoured, humbled and excited to carry the baton to lead the Ontario Human Rights Commission,” said DeGuire. “I look forward to using education and other strategies to carry out the commission’s mandate and bring together our communities to address the unprecedented crises flowing from the intersection of two global pandemics: COVID-19 and racism.”

“As my term as chief commissioner draws to a close, I thank the extraordinary OHRC team who stopped at nothing to deliver on the crucial human rights issues requiring urgent attention in all sectors in Ontario,” said Chadha. “Together we worked tirelessly to safeguard and advance human rights for all and I congratulate you on our many successes. I convey my best wishes to the new chief commissioner who will lead the next chapter of this incredible team and this world-leading organization’s story.”

DeGuire is a founding member and supporter of the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada and a founding board member of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers.

She was also the first vice-president of JusticeNet, an organization she helped create to improve access to justice for people that don’t qualify for legal aid but are unable to pay for private counsel.

In 2020, DeGuire won the Canadian Bar Association’s Touchstone Award for promoting equality in the legal profession, the judiciary and the legal community.

Pending review by the Standing Committee on Government Agencies, DeGuire will take over the role of chief commissioner in summer 2021.