In remembrance of our friend, who was a champion for the rights of all RCMP officers
The Quebec Mounted Police Members’ is going through difficult times in the wake of the tragic death on July 12 of James Duggan, our lawyer, and one of the pillars of the RCMP’s unionization and protector of C Division members and Francophones across Canada. This tragedy is a very difficult blow to take and we must pause and reflect on the life and accomplishments of our brother.
Our love, support and sympathy go to his family and friends. Among them, the true heroes of the RCMP’s successes in the unionization of its members: his son, Alex Duggan, Gaétan Delisle, Paul Dupuis, André Girard and many others, who fought shoulder to shoulder in the trenches for the unionization of members. Mr. Duggan and his colleagues, from the beginning, carried the unionization torch during a long marathon and carried it to the last mile, always with passion and determination.
James was flying his seaplane with three friends on board to go fishing and the aircraft crashed late Friday afternoon in the Chibougamau area at the same time as we learned of the RCMP’s official unionization announcement. One of his friends survived, but the other two passengers and James were found dead in the aircraft by members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
While involved in the 30+ years of achieving protection for the rights of RCMP members, James teamed up with his partner and son Alexander, leading the charge in a harassment class-action suit against the RCMP on behalf of several thousand RCMP members across Canada.
Frederic Serre, our media relations officer knew Duggan for 25 years, saying he 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,” he said in a phone interview with the Canadian Press.
Former federal New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair, a former colleague and friend of Duggan, described him as “an exceptionally brilliant lawyer” who dedicated his career to fighting for workers wronged by their employers.
“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,” Mulcair said in a phone interview on Sunday.
Mulcair said he will remember Duggan’s strong performances in court, his love for his family and the dozens of fishing trips the two of them took together.
Serge Bilodeau, AMPMQ president, described Duggan as one of the “first warriors of RCMP unionization,” and expressed his condolences to Duggan’s loved ones, including his spouse, son and daughter.
“James had been in every fight of the association for the protection of the rights of members of the RCMP,” Mr. Bildodeau said in a statement.
All our thoughts go out to James’s wife, Anastasia, his son Alexander, his daughter Jamie, his family, his relatives, his friends, his colleagues and partners.
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James Duggan, 67, had over 35 years of experience in labour, constitutional, administrative, human rights, aviation and electoral law.
He passionately represented employees and professionals, including executives, members of the civil service, members of police forces, as well as a variety of organisations and associations in provincial and federal jurisdictions. He loyally represented our RCMP members in Quebec and others across Canada since 1983.
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 2015, he was amongst the lawyers who convinced the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn one of its previous judgements (Delisle vs Canada  2 R.C.S. 989) in the case Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Attorney General of Canada (P.G.), 2015 CSC 1, concerning freedom of association and access to collective bargaining in particular for members of the RCMP.
He had extensive experience in civil litigation before the Court of Québec, the Superior Court of Québec, the Court of Appeal of Québec, the Federal Court (for both trials and appeals), the Supreme Court of Canada, the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba, in Europe and before various administrative tribunals. He acted as a mediator before the Superior Court and as a private mediator and arbitrator. Mr. Duggan was invited to participate in conferences and training courses on labour law, constitutional law, administrative law, human rights law, civil law, aviation law and litigation.
He made significant contributions to the development of labour law, constitutional law and election law. He was recognised for the quality of his work, his commitment to his clients and his good sense of values.
Mr. Duggan was named Advocatus Emeritus (Ad.E.) by the Quebec Bar. The award is presented to members of the Quebec Bar who gain distinction as a result of their outstanding professional career, outstanding contribution to the profession or outstanding social and community standing that has brought honour to the legal profession.