The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has announced the departure of its executive director and general counsel, Sukanya Pillay.
In its Summer Highlights newsletter, the CCLA announced that Pillay has resigned effective June 30 to relocate to Windsor, Ont. with her family.
“We thank Sukanya for her many valuable contributions to the CCLA over many years and wish her well,” read the top item in the newsletter.
Despite the official date of her departure being late June, Aug. 8 was the first day it was publicly announced that Pillay had left the organization. Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, who has directed the CCLA’s expression and equality programs since 2005, is currently acting executive director.
“I loved working with CCLA, and everything it represents,” Pillay told Legal Feeds. “But Windsor presented a better context for me and my family and career opportunities I wished to pursue.”
Pillay came onboard the CCLA as director of the organization’s national security program in 2009 and took the helm as executive director and general counsel in 2014. Prior to her work with the CCLA, she was a full-time faculty member of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law for five years. Pillay also obtained her law degree at UWindsor.
The CCLA, since its creation in 1964, has had three leaders: Alan Borovoy, who joined the association in 1968 and served as general counsel until 2009; Nathalie Des Rosiers, Borovoy’s successor in 2009; and Pillay, who took on leadership as general counsel and executive director in February 2014. Pillay had been serving as interim general counsel and acting executive director since August 2013, when Des Rosiers departed.
Pillay had a “proven track record of leadership at CCLA and in similar organizations, and a thorough understanding of the civil liberties challenges facing Canada,” according to the CCLA website’s leadership page. It goes on to state that her extensive experience both in Canada’s legal jurisdiction and internationally was instrumental in responding to national security bills and ensuring the country’s binding international commitments are upheld.
During Pillay's tenure, the CCLA challenged the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, fought to end segregation in prisons by challenging the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and demanded more state accountability. Along with Des Rosiers, Pillay launched the CCLA annual civil liberties awards in 2011.
The CCLA declined to provide comment on Pillay’s departure as Aviv is out of the office this week.