Skip to main content

James Duggan. (File Photo).

Frederic Serre/The Canadian Press

James Duggan, a well-known Montreal lawyer who spent years fighting for the rights of RCMP officers to unionize, was among the three victims of a plane crash that occurred in a remote region of northern Quebec on Friday.

Quebec provincial police confirmed Sunday that the 67-year-old was aboard the float plane that went down near Lac Boulène, southeast of Chibougamau.

Mr. Duggan was a prominent lawyer who was instrumental in the battle to unionize RCMP officers.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Duggan, who started representing members of the RCMP in the 1980s, was part of the group of lawyers who scored a major victory when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in January, 2015, that RCMP members had the right to form a union and collectively bargain with the federal government.

More recently, his firm spearheaded a class-action lawsuit on behalf of officers and civilian employees alleging harassment in the force.

Frederic Serre of the Quebec RCMP Members’ Association, who has known Mr. Duggan for 25 years, will remember his friend most for the kindness and attention he showed to “people going through hell.”

“They weren’t just cases, he knew there were people behind those cases,” Mr. Serre said in a phone interview Sunday.

In a “cruel twist of fate,” Mr. Serre said Mr. Duggan died just before the National Police Federation announced it had been certified as the bargaining agent for the RCMP membership – something he said Mr. Duggan and the association had been waiting 25 years for.

“It’s their battle and they won it, and it’s sad that Jim will never get to see it,” he said.

Ex-NDP leader Tom Mulcair, a former colleague and friend of Mr. Duggan’s, described him as “an exceptionally brilliant lawyer” who dedicated his career to fighting for workers wronged by their employers.

Story continues below advertisement

“He had a strong sense of what was right and what was wrong, and he was the type of person who always fought for the underdog, always fought to redress unfair situations,” Mr. Mulcair said in a phone interview on Sunday.

Mr. Mulcair said he will remember Mr. Duggan’s strong performances in court, his love for his family as well as the dozens of fishing trips the two of them took together.

The president of the Quebec RCMP Members’ Association described Mr. Duggan as one of the “first warriors of RCMP unionization,” and expressed his condolences to Mr. Duggan’s loved ones, including his spouse, son and daughter.

“James has been in every fight of the association for the protection of the rights of members of the RCMP,” Serge Bilodeau said in a statement.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton said a Hercules aircraft was dispatched Friday evening to respond to an emergency locator beacon.

Search and rescue technicians parachuted to the site where they found three people without vital signs and were later pronounced dead.

Story continues below advertisement

The other victims were Jacques Bissonnette, 69, and Claude Laplante, 77. A fourth man survived the crash.

The four men were travelling together to a fishing trip, police said.

Mr. Serre said Mr. Duggan owned the plane and was an experienced pilot.

“When things got really crazy, he would just get on his plane and go fishing,” he said.

Working alongside his son at his firm, Duggan Avocats, Mr. Duggan specialized in labour, constitutional, administrative, human rights, electoral and aviation law.

The site notes Mr. Duggan was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition for his services to the legal profession. In 2016, he was named a Lawyer Emeritus by the Quebec Bar Association.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies