6 February 2017

It is with great sadness that we learned that Mr. Roy L. Heenan passed away on Friday after a lengthy illness. Roy was the first chairman of the Board of Directors of The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation (2001-2012) and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of our organization. He remained a director, a member, and the chairman emeritus of the Foundation until his death.

As many of you know, Roy was one of Canada’s leading labour lawyers. He had the reputation of being a formidable litigator. Along with Donald Johnston and Peter Blaikie, he founded the law firm of Johnston, Heenan and Blaikie on a handshake in 1973. From Montréal, the firm grew across the country and abroad for 40 years to become one of Canada’s leading law firms, counting as members former Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien and the former Premier of Québec, Pierre Marc Johnson.

Always stimulated by young minds and the leaders of tomorrow, Roy taught administrative and labour law for many years at McGill, Queens’, Ottawa, and Laval universities. He helped frame the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and was a roster member for dispute settlement procedures under Chapter 19 of NAFTA. His expertise will be greatly missed.

Roy was also a great supporter of the arts. Among other roles, he served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and sat on the Board of Trustees of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. He was a world-class art collector and a dedicated patron of the arts.

It was in recognition of these accomplishments that Roy was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1998. Ten years later, in 2008, the Quebec Bar Association conferred on him the honorary title of Emeritus Lawyer. This distinction not only recognized the excellence of Roy’s professional career and his outstanding contribution to the legal profession, but also acknowledged his exceptional influence in his social and professional circles. McGill University awarded Roy an honorary doctor of laws degree the same year.

Several times each year, the Foundation’s directors and members had the pleasure of working with Roy at Board and committee meetings at the Foundation’s office. Many scholars, fellows, and mentors also knew Roy from having talked to or sat with him at one of the Foundation’s Annual Conferences or another Foundation event. Particularly memorable was the time when Roy and his wife, Rae, generously opened the doors of the couple’s home in St. Andrews, New Brunswick to us at the opening reception at the Summer Institute in May 2015. At each one of these events, Roy left us inspired by his enthusiasm for new ideas and his courteous treatment of all. He also left us persuaded of his conviction that the work of the Trudeau scholars, fellows, and mentors was making this country better every day.

It was in honour of that spirit that the Roy L. Heenan Lecture Fund was created in 2012. Since then, the Roy L. Heenan Lecture has taking place every year at the Summer Institute. The lecture that will take place in Winnipeg on 11 May will be an opportunity for us to pay tribute to Roy together.

Roy will be greatly missed by the many people whose lives he touched in such a positive way. All our thoughts are with his family and friends.


Funeral arrangements are as follows

Roy Lacaud Heenan passed away on February 3rd, 2017, in his 82nd year, surrounded by his family.


February 9, 2017 - 6PM to 9PM

Kane Fetterly Funeral Home
5301 Decarie Boulevard
Montreal, Quebec


February 10, 2017 - 1:00PM

St. George's Anglican Church
1101 Stanley Street (corner De La Gauchetiere)

For further details see The GazetteThe Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and La Presse on February 7 and 8, 2017.

Photo: Radio-Canada/Hugo Lavoie

Roy L. Heenan

Former chairman and founding partner of the Canadian law firm of Heenan Blaikie, he was a founding director of the Foundation. Mr. Heenan died on 3 February, 2017. He is greatly missed by the Foundation community.