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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Assessing the CJC’s Interpretation of Sections 54 and 55 of the Judges Act: The Patrick Smith Case

In its report of November 5, 2018, a review panel of the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) found Justice Patrick Smith, a supernumerary judge of the Ontario Superior Court, had acted breached the Judges Act and the CJC’s Ethical Principles for Judges (these are currently under review) by taking a position that was susceptible to controversy, that of unpaid interim dean (academic) at the Boris Laskin Faculty of Law. The Review Panel concluded, however, that his conduct did not warrant removal from the bench. In November 2018, I posted a comment on my blog, Idlemusings, about “the Patrick Smith case”, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Are Some Judges Just Slow Learners? Myths and Stereotypes in Sexual Assault Cases

Will we ever reach a point when how women dress or whether they don’t immediately rush to tell someone they’ve been sexually assaulted are not interpreted as superceding consent in determining whether a sexual assault has occurred? It’s been some 20 years since the Supreme Court of Canada, particularly L’Heureux-Dube J. in dissent, but also the majority, in Seaboyer emphasized the distorting role myths and stereotypes play in deciding sexual assault cases. The recent Court of Appeal decision in R. v. Lacombe tells us that some (in this case lower court) judges have still not heard the message. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The Meaning of Justice in Family Law Disputes

Justice is a complicated concept. The dictionary definition is short enough, typically given as “fairness and moral conduct,” but the seductive simplicity of the explanation ignores the important analyses offered by major thinkers from Plato through Hobbes, Rousseau and Mill to Rawls, and tends to stop at the doorstep of the courthouse in any event.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak at an ADRIC conference on justice in family law disputes and the difference, if any, between “justice” in the context of litigation and “justice” in the context of mediation. It was an intriguing question . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Provincial Court of BC’s Twitter Town Hall

If not today
Maybe tomorrow
If not tomorrow
Maybe in a week
No matter how far I push it
It needs to find me
Progress

Lyrics and Music by Booker T. Jones, James Edward JR Olliges, recorded by Booker T. Jones.

Sometimes change happens so slowly, you don’t notice it. Sometimes change happens so quickly, it doesn’t notice you (Ashley Brilliant)

Oct. 28, 2019 was a day in Canada unlike most others. You may not have noticed anything different, even if you were in the legal community. On that day, Provincial Court of BC’s Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Challenges to Mandatory Vaccinations: Further Thoughts

Just as the Toronto medical officer of health called for limiting the exemptions to Ontario’s mandatory vaccine regime for school children to only one, on medical grounds (although this has not been received positively by the provincial health minister), Vaccine Choice Canada and five mothers have challenged the requirement that in order to attend public school, children must receive vaccinations.

The Immunization of School Pupils Act already includes grounds for exemption for medical, religious and conscientious grounds; however, the group challenging the legislation consider the exemptions — and therefore the legislation — contravene their rights, in part because of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Procedural Fairness: Listen to the Other Side

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., First Reference Editor

A recent case of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, Saskatchewan (Employment Standards) v North Park Enterprises Inc., 2019 SKCA 69 (CanLII), illustrates the importance of the Latin maxim, audi alteram partem which means “listen to the other side,” or “let the other side be heard as well.” All administrative bodies, including labour boards, must comply with the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness. Within those rules there exists the duty to act fairly, which includes allowing the parties the right to be heard. In this case, the Saskatchewan Labour Relations . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The “Twitter Town Hall” Comes Back to BC on Monday October 28

For several years now, the Provincial Court of BC has engaged in regular annual Twitter Town Halls as a form of digital outreach—an effort to bring more transparency about the judicial process through direct engagement between members of the Bench and the public.

The first one, carried out in 2016, garnered international attention from the Conference of . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements, Justice Issues, Technology: Internet

CFCJ Releases Report on “Investing in Justice”

Investing in Justice – A Literature Review in Support of the Case for Improved Access, recently released by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, summarizes the “existing research and data on return on investment for justice services provided by civil society organizations, governments and private sector groups to communities and diverse populations worldwide”. (Disclosure: I sit on the Board of Directors of the CFCJ.) . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Reading: Recommended

How Can We Get Lawyers to Change the Way They Do Advance Medical Care Planning With Their Clients? a Physician’s Reflections

I recently visited with a friend in my hometown in Lethbridge, Alberta who is struggling with an incurable cancer. He was suffers from pain, confusion, and despair. He loves his life and his family and is sad to think about dying.

I asked about his future medical plans and his wife proudly declared, “we’ve been to the lawyer and filled out those forms” — suggesting that nothing more needed to be done. But can a form filled out in a lawyer’s office really ensure that you get the medical care that’s right for you?

I asked my friend’s wife for . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

New Measures to Cover Gap in Agent Representation

On June 21, 2019, Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, received Royal Assent. The Bill was an omnibus legislation that was prompted by the delays caused described in Jordan and Cody.

The effect of this Bill was to remove preliminary inquiries for virtually all offences, expand spousal violence to include intimate partner violence, abolish the use of peremptory challenges for jurors, and hybridize almost all indictable offences under 10 years while increasing the maximum penalty to 2 years for summary . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

The New Victim Quick Response Program in Ontario

The 2019 Ontario Budget, released in March, introduced a number of sweeping changes, including a focus on “Ensuring Agencies are Relevant, Efficient and Effective.”

One of these proposed changes was to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB), to replace the quasi-judicial tribunal model established under the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act with an administrative model. This as then introduced and passed under Bill 100, Protecting What Matters Most Act (Budget Measures). The rationale, as with much of the legal reforms in this budget, is to reduce the expenses related to the adversarial process and expend resources directly . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

A Day in the Life of a PBO Hotliner

Prior to Ontario’s most recent provincial election, I didn’t know much about Pro Bono Ontario (“PBO”), a registered charity since 2001 which serves just under 30,000 clients each year from 11 locations. I wasn’t a litigator, and my clients were large corporations, not regular, everyday Canadians, so it wasn’t part of my world. But earlier this year, PBO gave a most impressive presentation to the Legal Innovators Roundtable describing how it was achieving maximum impact with a modest budget through its Free Legal Advice Hotline, using a thoughtful blend of volunteers as well as old and new technology. It sounded . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology