IN FOCUS: A Wide-Lens Snapshot

JPB 2011 dark blue blazer (8)

Canadian J. Patrick Boyer’s work as a public activist is on the record and covers a lot of ground:

      Cultural politics

      → Women’s health and well-being

      → Democratic vitality and citizen-centred governance

      → Canadian history and heritage

      → Awakening respect for indigenous peoples

      → Law reform and social justice

      → Political ethics and accountability in government.

As a youth witnessing the world around him Patrick developed an impulse for justice — legal recourse for victims of wrongdoing, integration for vulnerable people on society’s margins, safeguarding the public commons from commercial and environmental predation, ethical conduct by public office holders and individuals occupying positions of trust, and social harmony based on equality for all and special privileges for none. In the world we inhabit, that gave him plenty of work!

Create Injustice by Removing Injustice

Inspired by Pierre Trudeau’s concept of a “Just Society,” Patrick moved beyond lofty theories to realistic action in this harsh world of double standards and inequal sharing of wealth and resources. His pragmatic path is, as he puts it, to Create justice by removing injustice.”

Realizing that patterns in society emerge through the gradual interaction of institutions and individuals, he focused not on “quick-fix reforms” but altering human behaviour through shifts in culture, something requiring a lifetime’s engagement on many fronts. This led him into journalism, law, politics, advocacy, and working through a variety of organizations.

He founded The Northern Institute for Public Policy, Breakout Educational Network, and the Corinne Boyer Fund for Ovarian Cancer Research and Treatment (now evolved into Ovarian Cancer Canada). He’s chaired the Couchiching Institute for Public Affairs, the Pugwash Park Commission in Nova Scotia, and is member of civil rights, environmental, and writers’ organizations (including PEN and The Writers’ Union of Canada.) He serves on the National Advisory Council of Fair Vote Canada seeking an electoral system that properly reflects public support in parliamentary representation.

Diverse Interests United by an Instinct for Democracy

Boyer’s broad skill-set includes years working as a typesetter and printer, reporter and television host, newspaper columnist and broadcast commentator. He’s a keen carpenter, canoeist, and naturalist. He became a lawyer and partner in a major Toronto firm, specializing in electoral law, communications law, public law issues and, as a member of the Northwest Territories bar, legal affairs in the Canadian Arctic. He was made a “Queen’s Council” for his contributions to Canadian legal scholarship with a comprehensive six-volume treatise on election law, and received an honorary doctorate from University of Ottawa “for continuous contributions to democracy in Canada and abroad.”

Writing became Patrick’s vocation in early years, starting with newspaper articles and columns in his family’s weekly newspaper. Today he reviews books and writes feature articles for a variety of magazines. He has formed two publishing houses, Blue Butterfly Books and Muskoka Books. Some two dozen of his own books have been published by a variety of Canadian and international publishing houses.

After being elected to Parliament at age 39 in 1984 by citizens of Toronto’s Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding, Patrick chaired the Parliamentary Committee on Equality Rights, the Parliamentary Committee on the Status of Disabled Persons, and a committee on election law reform. Participating in international affairs during a period of world drama – including the end of apartheid in South Africa, the end of the Cold War, and the war to liberate occupied Kuwait – Boyer also served as the Mulroney Government’s parliamentary secretary for External Affairs, and later for National Defence.

On Campus

Holding degrees from Carleton University (economics and political science) and University of Toronto (law and history), he as well studied French-Canadian literature at Université de Montréal and public law at the Academy of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands. Dr. Boyer taught political ethics as a faculty member at University of Guelph, history at York University, Canadian constitutional law at Wilfrid Laurier University, and the law of Canadian democracy at University of Toronto.

Finding Love

Patrick married Corinne Mudde on August 15 1970 after meeting her on a blind date in New York City where, as a Dutch national speaking seven languages, she worked as the cultural exchanges officer for The Netherlands consulate. Corinne, a proud Canadian citizen, died from ovarian cancer in the twenty-fifth year of their married life together. Patrick did not remarry for 23 years. However, when he met Elise Marie Bélanger, a Franco-Ontarian (first woman forester with Ontario Hydro, a vital entrepreneur owning and operating Muskoka’s VERANDA retail stores) they gleefully eloped on March 15, 2013 in British Columbia.

For further biographical info, see website entries at:

The Writers’ Union of Canada: