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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Even Pedophiles Have Charter Rights

The true test of a society is how we treat the most vulnerable, despicable, and heinous members of our society. The ability of the legal system to temper passions, quell inflammatory biases, and dispense justice to all individuals is the reason why the justice system is valued and respected by society at large.

R. v. Williams, an interesting case awaiting a hearing before the Supreme Court, helps illustrate these tensions. The case was debated this year at the 2015 Paralegal Cup.

Kenneth Williamson was accused of multiple charges of sexual assault of a minor between 1979-1980. These allegations . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

Fighting for Environmental Assessment in Canada

What kind of Canada do you want? One that prioritizes industrial development over
people, or one that finds innovative ways to grow its economy in balance with nature?

If you’re interested in environmental law and environmental justice then you’re probably aware of the fantastic work done by Ecojustice. It was 1990 when they started “leading the environmental fight” in Canada under the Sierra Legal Defense Fund banner. That’s 25 years of successful “groundbreaking” litigation representing community groups, non-profit organizations, First Nations, and individual Canadians. Through their efforts they have “secured many precedent-setting legal victories that protect wildlife . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Opens at University of Manitoba

Earlier this year, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its findings after its years-long investigation into the many abuses against Aboriginal children at Church-run Indian Residential Schools in the 19th and 20th centuries.

This week, a grand opening was held for the new National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation located on the grounds of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. The Centre is the permanent home for all statements, documents, and other materials gathered by the TRC.

As the Centre’s director Ry Moran explains:

On this site and at our centre, you will find a vast collection of documents,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Of Wikibooks and the Impossible Trinity of Information

Poo-pooing Wikipedia’s citeworthiness has a rich and honoured tradition, and not just among academics. The authoritative quality of crowd-sourced wisdom is a well-flogged heel for those in legal circles too, often trotted out in judgments like some Karl Von Hess to be beaten up by proper prudent legal authority. Wikipedia was first knocked about in Canadian jurisprudence in Bajraktaraj v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2005 FC 261, a decision of the Federal Court which set the tone for dealing with the pariah:

… the quality of the sources relied upon by the applicant, including an article

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing, Technology: Internet

Crowd Funding for Justice

Over the summer a non-practising UK solicitor launched “CrowdJustice“. It is a funding platform through which people can combine to build support for and share costs of taking legal action for issues that effect their community.

It is run by a team of lawyers and volunteers based in London.

The Case Owner sets a deadline and funding target for the amount needed to offset the costs. Only when the target is met are the pledges collected and paid to the lawyer’s trust account.Crowd Justice charges a fee if a case is successfully funded.

Cases recently funded or currently . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Self-Represented Litigants’ Response to “the Rights and Responsibilities of Self-Represented Litigants”

In my 28 August 2015 post, “The Rights and Responsibilities of Self-represented Litigants,” I reproduced a document intended to sketch out, like the name suggests, the reasonable expectations that litigants without counsel should have as they make their way through the legal system, and their concurrent obligation to attempt to acquire a reasonable understanding of legal processes. This caught the eye of Julie Macfarlane, professor at the University of Windsor and director of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project, who arranged for the document to be reviewed and commented open by a number of the self-represented individuals . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Reminder: New Quebec Code of Civil Procedures Effective January 1, 2016

Quebec lawyers are reminded that they need to prepare for upcoming changes to the Quebec Code of Civil Procedures passed into law on February 20, 2014. These significant changes are in effect January 1, 2016, and will improve overall access to justice. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Justice Issues, Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Canadian Newspapers Release 9th Annual National Freedom of Information Audit

What have our governments been up to lately? According to a recent study, it is not always easy to find out, with the federal government often responding with a glacial slowness to requests for information.

Last week, Newspapers Canada, a joint initiative of the Canadian Newspaper Association and the Canadian Community Newspapers Association, released its 9th annual National Freedom of Information Audit report:

“The 2015 FOI audit sent almost 450 access requests to federal government departments and crown corporations, ministries, departments and agencies in all provinces and territories, and to municipalities and police forces. As in previous audits, identical

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Minding the Gap

It sometimes seems that efforts to improve access to justice follow the age-old pattern of “One step forward, two steps back.” No sooner is a gap identified than a committee is struck to propose and develop gap-filling solutions, often without regard to the possibility that those solutions may themselves create new gaps.

Legal Aid Manitoba recently announced a significant change to its financial eligibility criteria. The Notice to the Profession, issued earlier this month, sets out the current income guidelines for eligibility and re-introduces a partial user-pay system for those outside the regular guidelines but within expanded financial criteria. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Have We Been Mishandling Our Alienation Cases? Let’s Try a Different Approach

Family law cases involving sincere allegations of parental alienation are difficult, highly emotional and profoundly conflicted. Although a certain number of these cases were likely to be high-conflict anyway, adding allegations of alienation to the mix makes conflict a near certainty. I can, however, imagine an alternative, more child-centred approach to these cases that just might encourage negotiation and curb the usual headlong rush to trial.

Allegations of alienation are extraordinarily painful to all involved, and it seems to me that it is the intensity of our emotional response to such allegations which sparks the fight-or-flight response spurring conflict and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Becoming a Court of the Future

People proclaim that our courts are stuck in a bygone era. Ontario lacks electronic filing at all levels of court. The fax machine dominates as the preferred method of communication. Lawyers attend Scheduling Court. Appellate proceedings go unrecorded on video. Even judges are beginning to voice concern about our courts.

In Bank of Montreal v Faibish, 2014 ONSC 2178, Justice Brown called out lawyers and courts for treating our judicial system “like some fossilized Jurassic”, causing the public to lose respect for our justice system. “How many wake-up calls do the legal profession and the court system need before . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Right to Water, Right to Health

Over breakfast last week I was reading the recent issue of the UofT Magazine and saw a short article by Alec Scott talking about the right to health. Scott begins by pointing to one of the recommendations from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission asking governments “to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law and constitutional law, and under the Treaties.”

This article resonated in part because of the recent story about the Neskantaga First Nation community who have been living under a boil water advisory for twenty years. That was a . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues