Ron Atkey

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The Honourable
Ron Atkey
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for St. Paul's
In office
Preceded by John Roberts
Succeeded by John Roberts
In office
Preceded by Ian Wahn
Succeeded by John Roberts
Minister of Employment and Immigration
In office
June 4, 1979 – March 2, 1980
Preceded by Bud Cullen
Succeeded by Lloyd Axworthy
Personal details
Born (1942-02-15)February 15, 1942
Saint John, New Brunswick
Died May 9, 2017(2017-05-09) (aged 75)
Toronto, Ontario
Political party Progressive Conservative
Alma mater University of Western Ontario, Yale University
Profession Lawyer, law professor

Ronald George "Ron" Atkey, PC, QC (February 15, 1942 – May 9, 2017) was a Canadian lawyer, law professor and former politician.


Atkey graduated in 1962 from the University of Western Ontario, and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Society while in university. He also obtained law degrees from Yale University and the University of Western Ontario.


Atkey was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as the Progressive Conservative (Tory) Member of Parliament (MP) for the Toronto riding of St. Paul's in the 1972 election.[1] He was defeated by John Roberts in the 1974 election.[2]

Atkey defeated Roberts in the 1979 election that brought the Tories to power under Joe Clark.[3] Clark appointed Atkey to the Canadian Cabinet as Minister of Employment and Immigration. Clark's minority government was short-lived, however, and Atkey was defeated in the 1980 election.[4]

As recounted in None Is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933-1948, during his time as Minister, Atkey was instrumental in the decision to grant 50,000 Vietnamese boat people asylum in Canada in 1979, during the Southeast Asian refugee crisis. Atkey was influenced by an early manuscript copy of the book None is Too Many, which revealed Canada's racist attitude toward Jews trying to enter Canada during the Holocaust. As a result, Canada's participation in resolving his crisis was second to none in the world.[citation needed]

Later life[edit]

After his defeat, Atkey returned to his law practice. He became a senior partner in the firm of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt, LLP. From 1984 to 1989, he served as Chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee which oversees the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.[5] He taught law at the University of Western Ontario, Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Toronto. He wrote Canadian Constitutional Law in a Modern Perspective, which was a popular constitutional law textbook in the 1970s. In 1994, he wrote a novel, The Chancellor's Foot. He lectured on national security law and international terrorism, and was an expert on communications and cultural law. He wrote on the exemption from North American Free Trade Agreement of Canadian cultural industries.

In 2004, he was appointed Amicus Curiae to the Arar Commission in order to act as an independent counsel with the responsibility of testing government requests made on the grounds of national security confidentiality.[5]

Atkey served as legal counsel to Warner Communications, and played a role in the company's merger with America Online.


  1. ^ "How the 1,117 candidates fared across Canada". The Toronto Star. October 31, 1972. p. 15. 
  2. ^ "How the party candidates fared across the country". The Toronto Star. July 9, 1974. p. A12. 
  3. ^ "Counting the votes: The Liberals watch from their Quebec Conservatives sweep most of the West". The Globe and Mail. May 24, 1979. pp. 10–11. 
  4. ^ "Federal general election results listed riding-by-riding". The Ottawa Citizen. February 19, 1980. pp. 29–30. 
  5. ^ a b "Ron Atkey remembered for response to Vietnamese refugee crisis". Toronto Star. May 19, 2017. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
New position
Chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (Canada)
Succeeded by
John Bassett