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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Eviction Operations Continue to Resume

One of the greatest concerns of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was that individuals who could not pay rent would be evicted from their homes, and many would be left homeless. Aside from the important social and moral significance of increased homelessness, there are important public health considerations as well.

For example, Perri et al. recently described in the Canadian Medical Association Journal how there is an increased risk of infection of COVID-19, as well as a higher risk of worse outcomes given the existence of comorbidities.

Ontario implemented a suspension of regular court proceedings, based on an . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Seeking Equality in Tech Legal Advances: Living With Disabilities

Advancing technological means to accessing legal processes, information or decision-making (and more) has been on-going for years now. The coronavirus pandemic has hastened some of the shifts to technology (online hearings or declaring affidavits, for example) and has made those enthusiastic about faster, wider changes even more so. But in one way, nothing has changed: how do we ensure that technological advances increase access to justice for marginalized groups and not leave things the same, or even make the situation worse (because of lack of computer literacy or access to computers, among other factors). It is crucial to include engagement . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology

Balancing Transparency and Independence in the Judiciary

On July 28, 2020, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs is expected to publish for the first time expenses of federally-appointed judges.

The changes come about from amendments to the Access to Information Act as a result of Bill C-58: An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which was first tabled on June 19, 2017.

The Bill followed various political promises to prioritize federal access to information, to create a more open government, including providing greater powers to the Information Commissioner, ensuring . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

From Discrimination to Systemic Racism: Understanding Societal Construction


Recently RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki admitted she really didn’t understand the term “systemic racism” and later showed she was correct when she provided an old and obvious example of indirect discrimination as an example of systemic racism. Here I explore the evolution from discrimination to systemic discrimination to systemic racism and why they are different, although related. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Role of the Legal Profession in Promoting Democracy

Much time, effort and funding has been devoted in recent years to trying to increase access to the legal system. At the same time, there has been a movement to “de-expert” or diminish the expertise of lawyers, as is true of many areas of life (everyone can be a journalist, everyone can become famous on social media, educators rely on what their students say they should teach, sometimes I think anyone can become a successful singer, at least to my tone deaf ear), even if not all (not everyone can become a baseball player in the major leagues or win . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

The Wheels of Justice in Exceptional Cases

Despite the pandemic, the wheels of justice continue to turn. With several hearings continuing to occur remotely due to social distancing protocols, the Ontario Court of Justice announced they are scheduled to resume in-person hearings on July 6, 2020.

The incremental plan includes the use of limited courtrooms for all trials and preliminary inquiries involving accused persons who are in custody and who are out of custody. All participants in a trial or preliminary inquiry, including the accused person(s), counsel and witness(es) will attend in person, are expected to attend in-person, unless a judge has directed otherwise.

In part, this . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Should the Government Grant Immunity From Civil Lawsuits Related to COVID-19?

The Ontario government is considering granting immunity from civil lawsuits related to COVID-19. Other jurisdictions have already done so to varying degrees. In New York, Governor Cuomo signed legislation immunizing health care providers for medical decisions that they make in the course of treating victims of the pandemic. (Reported in the New York Times.)

Similarly, in British Columbia, the government has shielded essential service providers from liability for damages relating to COVID-19. Immunity may be available if services are provided in accordance with all applicable emergency and public health guidance.

The CBC reports in the article “More . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Words, and Black Lives, Matter

In 1977, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the case of Smithers v. R., where two young hockey players who got into it, in and outside of the rink. In the brief altercation that ensued, one of the players died. The other player was charged and convicted of manslaughter.

The accused appealed unsuccessfully around the cause of death, which was due to asphyxiation. However, this was not due to any choking, but either the aspiration of foreign materials due to vomiting, and a malfunction of the epiglottis.

The unusual cause of death has therefore become one of the examples . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Statements and Commitments From the Canadian Library World on Racism

The website has put together a list of statements made by the Canadian library, archives, and museum community on racism, injustice, and violence.

The statements and commitments come from local, regional and national groups.

This includes a communiqué on anti-Black racism by the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA). The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) is one of the member organizations of the CFLA.

Earlier today, the CALL Executive Board and the CALL Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization Committee issued a separate Open Letter to Membership: Black Lives Matter which outlines some of the association’s commitments to action: . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Story Behind RDS

With widespread discussion around law enforcement and their interaction with young Black men, some people have tried to claim that these problems are not prevalent in Canada.

We know this to not be true on many grounds, but one of the early post-Charter cases was in 1997 with R. v. RDS, where the presiding judge took judicial notice of racial profiling that occurred in Halifax.

The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the calls of judicial bias, and upheld the trial decision. Worth noting is that the trial judge taking judicial notice of profiling was herself from the Afro-Nova Scotian . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Searching for the Moral High Grounds in Family Law

Although all courts are backlogged during the pandemic, there is probably no more tension right now in our justice system than with family law, especially as parents struggle with social distancing while sorting out the exchange of children.

For some family law litigants, less pressing matters such as obtaining the exclusive possession of a matrimonial home has been pushed through the courts, as in Alsawwah v. Afifi.

Justice Kurz, in granting the motion for exclusive possession to the Respondent, indicated that much of the materials were unnecessary, distracting, and unhelpful to the resolution of the motion. On this . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Innovation in the Law: Whose Perspectives Should We Seek?

Over the past several weeks, there has been a flurry of new ideas for revamping our legal system. But whose ideas should we seek out?

We should seek out ideas from people that are experienced users of the legal system but also from people who are new to the legal system. The experienced users have an accumulated stock of knowledge to learn from. While novice users have an easier time questioning assumptions and seeing the absurdity in antiquated processes.

In the Podcast WorkLife With Adam Grant, “Career Decline Isn’t Inevitable”, Adam Grant points out that cognitive entrenchment increases . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues