Michael Bryant : Executive Director and General Counsel

Michael Bryant

Executive Director and General Counsel

Michael joined CCLA as Executive Director in 2018. He was the 35th Attorney General of Ontario, the 2nd Minister of Indigenous Affairs, and served as a Member of Provincial Parliament for a decade. Mr. Bryant is a barrister certified by the Law Society of Ontario.  He has appeared before all levels of court, from bail courts as Duty Counsel through the Ontario Court of Appeal and Ontario Review Board as solo practitioner, to the Supreme Court of Canada as counsel at McCarthy Tetrault LLP.   After retiring from elected office, he served as Special Advisor to Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, Chair of the Public Accountants Council, and Chief Negotiator for the Chippewas of Kettle & Stony Point, resulting in the historic Ipperwash Settlement Agreement.  In the '90s, Bryant clerked for the former Chief Justice of Canada, and served as Lecturer in Law at King’s College, London, and Adjunct Professor at U of T and Osgoode Hall.  In 2019, Bryant was named Canadian Lawyer's Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession in Canada.

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv : Director, Equality Program

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv

Director, Equality Program

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv joined CCLA in 2002 as a legal researcher. Since 2005 she has directed CCLA’s Expression and Equality programs. Noa has been published, made submissions, appearances and presentations, and advocated on such issues as refugee protection, LGBTQ rights, racial profiling, freedom of expression and religion, and the intersectionality of rights, in particular religious freedom and equality. Noa has coordinated many CCLA interventions in a variety of Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and human rights tribunals; appeared before Parliamentary and provincial legislative committees, governmental and public bodies; and provided written submissions. She has also appeared on panels, at conferences, in press interviews, and provided guest workshops and lessons through CCLET’s public education project. In addition, Noa manages CCLA’s law student volunteer programs.

Noa has an LL.B. and LL.M. from the Hebrew University in Israel, and a B.A. (with distinction) from York University. She completed her legal articles at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and was called to the Israeli Bar in 1998. She worked for a few years as an associate at a private law firm in Jerusalem, practicing litigation, labour, commercial, and corporate law.  Noa has also served as Field Coordinator for a large research project on eating disorders in women, and as Acting Administrative Director of Hebrew University Law Faculty’s Center for Human Rights.


Cara Faith Zwibel : Director, Fundamental Freedoms Program

Cara Faith Zwibel

Director, Fundamental Freedoms Program

Cara Faith Zwibel joined CCLA in 2009 as Director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program. She graduated from McGill University in 2001 with an Honours degree in Political Science and received her LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2004. She articled as a law clerk to the Honourable Justice Ian Binnie at the Supreme Court of Canada before being called to the Ontario bar in 2005. Cara also received her Master of Laws degree from New York University, as an Arthur T. Vanderbilt Scholar. Prior to joining CCLA, Cara was an Associate at a national law firm, practicing public law, health law and commercial litigation. She has experience representing clients at all levels of court and before administrative tribunals, and has authored and co-authored published articles on constitutional law. Her work with CCLA involves providing legal opinions and research, coordinating interventions and representing CCLA before the courts, preparing submissions to legislative bodies and assisting with the CCLET’s public education work.

Brenda McPhail : Director, Privacy, Technology & Surveillance Project

Brenda McPhail

Director, Privacy, Technology & Surveillance Project

Brenda McPhail became Director of the Privacy, Technology, and Surveillance Project in 2015, after first working from 2013 as a project coordinator for the grant-funded Pathways to Privacy and TalkRights projects. Brenda focuses on advocacy and public education about privacy rights and the ways in which these rights are at risk in contemporary society. This includes privacy in relation to national security, intelligence, and public safety surveillance, privacy and information sharing practices and policies in the public and private sector, and privacy in the social context of existing and emerging technologies. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto Faculty of Information, and holds Master’s degrees in Information Studies and English. In her peer-reviewed work she has explored do-it-yourself approaches to privacy protective identification, privacy risks of RFID-enhanced driver’s licenses, identity performance in government service interactions, Canadian ePassport development, attitudes to video surveillance, and privacy issues inherent in connected cars.  PGP Public Key

Abby Deshman : Director, Criminal Justice Program

Abby Deshman

Director, Criminal Justice Program

Abby Deshman is a lawyer and the Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. She also teaches at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto, and is a Mentor with the Law Practice Program at Ryerson University. Previously, she served as a Corrections Advisor on the Ontario government's Independent Review of Corrections and as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Abby has also worked with the United Nations High Council for Refugees in Kenya and Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism/Counterterrorism division in New York. At CCLA, Abby has led advocacy and analysis in a wide range of issue areas including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, police powers and oversight, and the criminal justice system. The author of numerous reports, articles and opinion pieces, her most recent work focuses on the bail system and police record checks. Abby graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law with an Hons J.D. in 2008, and obtained an LL.M. from New York University in 2010.

April Julian : Director of Education

April Julian

Director of Education

April Julian joined the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust in 2009.  She became Deputy Director of Education in 2014, and Director in 2016. She is responsible for coordinating and delivering CCLET’s various education initiatives in Ontario and beyond.  In conjunction with her colleagues at CCLA/CCLET, April delivers civil liberties workshops and programming to various audiences of approximately 10,000 learners per year – including elementary and high school students, pre-service and in-service teachers, newcomers to Canada, and youth in custody.  As an Ontario Certified Teacher, April also develops educational resources that encourage learners of all ages to gain a deeper understanding of their rights and freedoms and think critically about balancing competing interests in a democracy. These resources are publicly accessible on the CCLA website.



Sarah Pole : Acting Director of Education

Sarah Pole

Acting Director of Education

Sarah Pole joins us as Acting Director of Education during April Julian’s maternity leave. Sarah practiced family, employment and immigration law in New Zealand before moving to Canada in 2002. She has extensive experience in youth justice education and has focused in particular on youth facing personal and systemic barriers to success, and on increasing legal sector diversity. Sarah has a strong connection to the CCLA/CCLET, having partnered on numerous joint education initiatives in her previous roles including Executive Director of the Law in Action Within Schools Program (LAWS) which is the youth outreach partnership of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and the Toronto District School Board, and Director of Provincial Programs at the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN).

Lejla Sahovic : Director of Administration

Lejla Sahovic

Director of Administration

Lejla Sahovic joined the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in May 2019 as Director of Administration. Prior to joining CCLA, she worked as Director of HR in one of the major global financial institutions where she established and led the HR Department for over a decade. She also worked at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on democratization processes. She works closely with the General Counsel and Executive Director and her work with CCLA involves the day to day management of the organization, finances, human resources, and volunteers. She is also involved in ongoing development and donor relations for the organization. Lejla has Bachelor of Business Administration and Diploma of Human Resources Management.

Maria Rio : Senior Manager, Fundraising & Communications

Maria Rio

Senior Manager, Fundraising & Communications


Having come to Canada as a refugee at an early age, Maria developed a passion for human rights that now fuels her drive to help locally and make a difference in the lives of people of various marginalized and often inter-sectional groups. After being assisted by many charities and going through an arduous 12 year immigration process to become a Canadian citizen, Maria devoted herself to working in a charity setting to give back to the industry which had drastically and undeniably improved the course of her life. As a woman, a person of colour, an immigrant, and a member of the LGBTQ community, Maria works diligently every day to ensure that she and CCLA can make a meaningful difference in the lives of these and other often underrepresented groups.

A. Alan Borovoy, March 17, 1932 – May 11, 2015 : General Counsel, Emeritus

A. Alan Borovoy, March 17, 1932 – May 11, 2015

General Counsel, Emeritus

Alan Borovoy was General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association from May, 1968 until June, 2009. Prior to coming to CCLA, Alan worked with other human rights and civil liberties organizations such as the National Committee for Human Rights of the Canadian Labour Congress, the Ontario Labour Committee for Human Rights, and the Toronto & District Labour Committee for Human Rights.

As General Counsel of CCLA, Alan made presentations to public inquiries and gave testimony before parliamentary committees on issues such as mandatory drug-testing in the workplace, wiretapping, and police race-relations. His community organizing activities included delegations to the federal and provincial governments on issues of capital punishment, religious education in the public schools, the War Measures Act, campus speech codes, and national security and intelligence.In addition to his work as General Counsel, Alan was a fortnightly columnist for the Toronto Star from 1992-1996. Other media work included appearances on many public affairs programs, and on open-line television and radio programs. He is published widely across Canada, and is the author of several books, including The New Anti-Liberals, Uncivil Obedience: The Tactics and Tales of a Democratic Agitator and When Freedoms Collide: The Case for Our Civil Liberties, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award in 1988. His memoir, At the Barricades, was published in 2013..

Alan gave lectures and public addresses to students, human rights organizations, and policing agencies in Canada and abroad. He was a visiting professor at the faculties of law at Dalhousie University and the University of Windsor, and a part-time lecturer at the University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work and York University’s political science department. Alan received his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1953, and his LL.B. from the University of Toronto in 1956. He was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1958. He  received four Honorary Doctor of Laws Degrees, the Law Society Medal from the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1989, an Award of Merit from the City of Toronto in 1982, and was inscribed in the Honour Roll of the aboriginal people of Treaty Number 3 in 1991. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1982. A. Alan Borovoy was actively involved in CCLA until his passing in May, 2015.