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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

An Ounce of Prevention on Law Day

Prevention is better than cure, health professionals like to remind us. But what’s true for your physical well-being is arguably just as true for your emotional and financial health. That’s why it’s so important for people to recognize potential legal problems before they spin out of control and take over their lives.

As part of the events surrounding Law Day, which commemorates the signing of the Canadian Charter 33 years ago, the CBA has released six new legal health checks, in addition to an earlier six cards released last year. The goal is to get people to give . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Of Prima Facie Discrimination and Humanizing the Street Homeless

The long-dead brains of history are still quite handy when you need to brandish something with rhetorical flourish—Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Milton, Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill are some obvious choices. But it’s rare that a quote at the head of a judgement is as good as what BC Supreme Court Justice Sharma gave us this past Friday in Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users v. British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. Here’s how the reasons begin:

“Near the end of the 19th Century, the poet, author and Nobel laureate Antole France composed this oft-cited saying: ‘[t]he law in its

. . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Family Justice 3.7: Concluding Remarks

I have, to the relief of many, exhausted my ability to devise alternate means of dealing with family justice issues. I could write more explicitly about therapeutic justice, I suppose, or perhaps provide a sketch of what a triaged entry to the justice system might look like, but these ideas have been talked and written about extensively. I doubt I have anything useful to add.

As I worked through these different models of doing family justice – and realized that I was reaching the end of my creative rope – it struck me that the first cause of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Of Lowest Common Denominators, Government Surveillance and the Uncumberbatchable Task of Fighting Apathy

Merciless epithets are just one reason to watch last night’s episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver — the primary being his face-to-face interview with Edward Snowden. “Uncumberbatchable” was the six syllable term Oliver coined in his warm-up act to describe the uncharming Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is apparently so bereft of likeability that not even the gifted character actor Benedict Cumberbatch can (by Oliver’s review) imbue his character with any grace. But the searing candescence of Oliver’s satire—and his Assange put-down is certainly putting the Twittersphere in stitches—is just an invitation to treat. The . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

An Alternative ABS Structure for Better Legal Business

Alternative Business Structures (ABS) is all the debate right now in Ontario, with a current discussion paper released by the law society. Over 40 responses were received from various organizations and stakeholders. The interim report presented to convocation in February included a wide range of views on ABS, from strongly for it to staunchly opposed.

The incentives for adopting ABS appears to primarily be for the purposes of attracting capital and promoting access to justice. The report references an alternative to plain ABS called ABS+, to focus specifically on how this capital could be harnessed to address those . . . [more]

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

Choices and Priorities

How do we as a society decide who is responsible to pay for access to justice initiatives and to what extent? Who sets those priorities and through what lens are those priorities ordered?

Does the fiscal responsibility lie solely with government? Is it the job of government to ensure that all those seeking to access and enforce their legal rights are able to do so, whether through legal aid programs or advocacy services? Many in the legal profession seem to think so. An argument I’ve frequently heard typically goes something like this: We don’t ask doctors and dentists to work . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Assisted Reproduction After Death

The Alberta Law Reform Institute recently released their Final Report 106 Assisted Reproduction After Death: Parentage and Implications.

My daughters, lovely irreverent young women that they are, sometimes joke about which one of them will stay on our farmette and look after the oldies (referring to my husband and I) in order to inherit. What if we had some medical assistance in achieving parenthood, stored some embryos, one of us passed on, and the other wished to have a child after the death of a genetic parent? This scenario is completely feasible and possible and there are broad implications . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

Justice Delayed in Brampton

Courthouses across the GTA, Canada’s most populous region, are already overwhelmed. Under particular strain are the suburbs of Toronto, which have exploded in population over the past few decades, with few corresponding increases in services.

One particular courthouse is in Brampton, where the Ministry of the Attorney General has announced they will build a 3-story expansion. The expansion will not be completed until December 2017, and that time both the bar and the bench appear to be alarmed.

Justice Van Melle, former Regional Senior Justice for Ontario’s Central West court region, took the unusual step of writing a letter to . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Family Justice 3.6: Rethinking Family to Reduce Conflict

All law, with the exception of animal cruelty laws, concerns the interaction of human social groups ranging in scale from the individual to the state, either for the purpose of regulating those interactions or providing remedies when things go awry. It’s the humanness of these interactions which makes the law as complex as it is, family law especially so; we are messy, irrational creatures with priorities, goals and emotions that are highly variable and difficult to predict.

It seems to me that the contortions into which family law twists itself largely result from efforts to address, accommodate and anticipate the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

How Courtroom Innovations Help Self-Represented Litigants

The Toronto Star posted an interesting story this past weekend discussing how courtroom innovations in New York, the U.K. and Windsor, Ontario are helping self-represented litigants navigate the legal waters.

You can read the story here.

There is a complete absence of mention of what is being done in Toronto. If the answer is “nothing”, then perhaps we should all be looking at what can be done. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

National Security Still Doesn’t Trump Personal Privacy

How far does the legitimate scope of governmental power reach, in a time of technology and enhanced concerns of personal privacy?

Following the attacks on Canadian Parliament on October 22, 2014, the proper balance between national security concerns and personal privacy and liberties is of foremost concern for many citizens. The Federal government has responded, in part, by the introduction of Bill C-51, which has itself spurned considerable controversy.

National security and law enforcement concerns are not exclusive to our jurisdiction. At the Fourth Annual UCLA Cyber Crimes Moot this weekend, competitors from across the country considered the constitutional implications . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Family Justice 3.5: Fostering a Settlement-Oriented Legal Culture

This is the note on rethinking our approach to family justice that I never thought I’d find myself writing, and as a result I need to begin with an explanation and an apology. In this short post, I describe what I see as lawyers’ duties to promote settlement, to respect informed compromise and to refrain from litigating family law disputes without good and sufficient reason. First, however, I’ll explain the circumstances that have provoked me to write.

I’m involved in a number of the present efforts to reform family justice. In one particular group, I have received a certain amount . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues