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Archive for the ‘Justice Issues’ Columns

Harry LaForme on Failure to Appoint Indigenous Judges

In a recent Law Society continuing education program on Indigenous Law Issues 2019, former Justice Harry LaForme offered a critique on the failure to appoint indigenous persons to the bench. In so doing, he made pointed comments regarding J0dy Wilson Raybould, Beverly McLachlin and Kim Campbell, three key influencers in making such appointments. He described the performance of Wilson Raybould as “sad”, and the reported statements of McLachlin and Campbell as “patronizing” or worse.

(LaForme’s remarks may be reviewed in full on the unique service provided by the Law Society which provides web access to continuing education programs offered . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Colonialism Is Alive and Well in Canada

When I hear about the arrest of peaceful land protectors, I think about all the times I’ve heard that colonialism happened “a long time ago.” This is 2019. It never ended. When I see colonial violence in action I grieve not only for those brave people who stand peacefully as they are overwhelmed on their own lands, but also for future generations who will be forced to pay for our hubris.

-Hayalthkin’geme (Carey Newman), OBC, MSM, Audain Professor of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest at the University of Victoria

The ongoing “colonial violence” that Hayalthkin’geme speaks to is . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Building Paths to Justice in Rural Wellington County: Learnings From the WellCoMs Mobile Van Pilot Project

In order to create pathways to justice it is often necessary to discover and follow the paths along which people already walk. This is what the WellCoMs Mobile Legal Services Van has done with great success in rural Wellington County by connecting with the normal patterns of communication and with the other ways people obtain help with everyday problems. This pilot project, which operated between May and October 2019, was developed by the Legal Clinic of Guelph and Wellington County and funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario. Wellington County covers an area of 2,657 square kilometers mostly north . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Value of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project

I recently announced my intention to step aside as the Director of the NSRLP at the end of 2020. The primary reason is my health (I have cancer). I intend to spend the next year fundraising, to ensure the longevity and stability of the NSRLP as a permanent not-for-profit organization. This blog reflects our thinking about the core work of the NSRLP as we embark on an effort to secure its future – Julie Macfarlane

Why does there need to be a permanent national organization interacting directly with both the public and justice system professionals?

The only way the justice . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Automated Decision-Making and the Civil and Administrative Justice System

The impact of Automated Decision-Making in the Civil and Administrative Justice System requires deliberate and considerate policy and legal guidance.

On December 10th the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) brought together lawyers, developers, policymakers, academics and community advocates for an informal and collaborative discussion of the issues and implications of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) in Ontario’s civil and administrative justice system.

These issues are important because of the examples of AI being used in civil and administrative government decision-making in the U.S. and Europe. AI technologies are being deployed in the areas of government benefits, public . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Denis v. Cote and the Myth of Onus in Journalist Shield Law

In Denis v. Cote, the Supreme Court considered Canada’s new journalist shield law, the Journalist Sources Protection Act (JSPA).[1] The JSPA, which amends both the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code, altered the common law on protections afforded to the confidential sources and notes of journalists.[2]

The common law regime balances two competing public interests in deciding whether names or notes must be disclosed to police or civil plaintiffs. In the criminal context, there is the public interest in the detection and prosecution of crimes (law enforcement), to which journalist notes and sources are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Ethics

It’ll Take Time but It’s Happening

I have looked into the history of data-driven and evidence based working in the health sector because I am curious about what we can learn from that for the justice sector. I can’t claim to have researched it all, but a few things stand out thus far.

First and foremost: without the shift to data-driven and evidence based working the huge increase in good healthcare for everyone would not have happened. Secondly: it took time to get there. If we discount early experimentation by Hippocrates, it took around 150 years for the health sector to embrace this way of working. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

We Have Lost the Self-Regulation Argument: With or Without Us, the Public Is Moving On

My inbox fills up each day with messages from members of the public (NSRLP has an active public email, answered by dedicated NSRLP research assistants, but many SRLs write me directly).

It is still not well understood that the vast majority of SRLs are still looking for and extremely desirous of legal help. In my 2013 study, this figure was 86%. Similar results are reported by studies in the US, England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand, and Northern Ireland. All these studies also found that by far the most significant reason for self-representation is . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Discovering the Power of Social Media in the Guelph WellCoMs Mobile Legal Service Project

The Legal Clinic of Guelph and Wellington County has just completed what appears, based on a preliminary analysis of the data, to have been a highly successful pilot project to expand legal aid services to rural Wellington County in Southwestern Ontario. The project is being funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario. The project involved using a van to provide outreach services to 12 small communities spread throughout the 2,657 square kilometers of the county, visiting each community 10 or more times on a regular schedule between May and October. The van, staffed by two outreach workers, would park . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Supporting Community Justice Help and Advancing Access to Justice

The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) has collaborated with Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) on a number of initiatives to help develop awareness and implement programs that reflect community-specific needs. Julie Mathews, the recipient of the Law Foundation of Ontario’s fellowship grant, will be presenting her research during Ontario’s Access to Justice Week with Professor David Wiseman at the uOttawa Faculty of Law who is supporting this research. Offering us a sneak peek, Julie shares her thoughts and findings on the community justice help below.

The importance of drawing a clear line between giving legal information and legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Ontario’s Fourth Annual Access to Justice Week Begins on Monday, October 28

Ontarians across the province require access to justice in different ways. Extraordinary developments in technology, access to legal information and the diverse society we live in all demand that we be open to changes in how communities engage with the justice system and exercise their rights.

While lawyers and paralegals play a critical role, they are not alone in facilitating access to justice. Professionals, academics, community workers, support staff and the public all play important roles in the system. Together, these justice stakeholders can create a more coordinated and collaborative approach to address challenges relating to access to justice.

From . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Celebrating 30 Years of Environmental Legal Aid in BC

When concerned individuals, community groups and First Nations are seeking justice on behalf of the environment, they need someone to turn to. That’s where programs like West Coast Environmental Law’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF) come in – ensuring that people in BC have access to affordable legal services to address environmental issues in the public interest.

The EDRF program, which is funded by The Law Foundation of British Columbia, is unique in British Columbia and one of the very few of its kind in Canada. This year, as the EDRF celebrates its 30th anniversary, we’re reflecting on our . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues