Philippe Dufresne is a leading legal expert on human rights, administrative, and constitutional law. He was appointed Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House of Commons in February 2015. In this capacity, he is the chief legal officer of the House of Commons and leads the office responsible for the provision of legal and legislative drafting services to the House of Commons, its Speaker, Members and committees, the Board of Internal Economy, and the House Administration.
Prior to his appointment as Law Clerk of the House of Commons, he was the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s Senior General Counsel, responsible for legal services, litigation, investigations, mediations, employment equity and Access to Information and Privacy. He has successfully represented the Commission before all levels of Canadian Courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, in some of the key human rights and constitutional cases of the last two decades. He has appeared before the Supreme Court on 15 occasions, on issues ranging from accessibility, equal pay for work of equal value, to the balancing of human rights and national security. As lead counsel for the Commission in the landmark parliamentary privilege case of House of Commons v. Vaid, he helped reinforce and clarify some of the country’s fundamental constitutional principles as they apply to the House of Commons and Parliament.
A member of the Bars of Quebec, Ontario, and Massachusetts, he has served his profession and community in several different capacities, including as president of the constitutional and human rights law section of the Canadian Bar Association (Quebec Branch) and as a member of the editorial board for the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association’s CCCA Magazine. In 2014, he served as president of the International Commission of Jurists, an organization devoted to the protection of the rule of law and judicial independence in Canada and internationally.
Holding degrees in common and civil law from McGill University’s Faculty of Law, he has been a part-time professor with the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Common Law and Queen’s University’s Faculty of Law where he taught international criminal law, human rights, and appellate advocacy. He regularly speaks on issues of human rights, administrative, constitutional, and parliamentary law in Canada.