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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Ethical Conduct in Cabinet Absent Precise Definitions of Conflict

The Conflict of Interest Act (the “Act”) is likely one of the most reviewed pieces of legislation this week, as a result of the release of the the Trudeau II Report. The characterizations of the Report, and the underlying lessons that may be gleaned, risk being lost to partisan narratives absent close scrutiny.

The history of attempts to define rules around conflicts of interest go back to at least the 1970s, but despite several discussion papers, task forces, committees, inquiries, and reports, very little was actually achieved for over three decades.

The first of these was a green paper introduced . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Hearings for Court of Appeal Nominees

Recently, the chief justice of Canada, The Honourable Robert Wagner, suggested that appointments to the appellate courts might beneficially echo the process for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada, with the introduction of legislative hearings into the nominee. As reported in The Globe and Mail, the chief justice argued that public nomination hearings would add to the transparency that he is seeking to bring to the judicial process and would increase trust in the judiciary; he explained, “the best way to avoid bias and prejudice is to inform the people.” Based on the process for SCC nominees, is . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Contrasting Petersoo v. Petersoo and Moore v. Apollo Health [And] Beauty Care: Should a Judge or Arbitrator Ever Become an Advocate?

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently held in Petersoo v. Petersoo that a family law arbitrator should not ensure that a represented party is aware of an issue that is raised in the arbitration. This contrasts with Moore v. Apollo Health [and] Beauty Care, in which the Court of Appeal determined in 2017 that a judge who did not ensure that an unrepresented plaintiff who had intended to raise a claim had failed in his responsibility. . . . [more]

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

Parenting Coordination Unboxed and Repurposed

Parenting coordination was first developed in California in the 1980s as a response to family law cases characterized by elevated levels of conflict and repeated trips to court. The Special Master Program, as it was then known, was established to help parents resolve ongoing child-related disputes through a combination of consensus-building and decision-making, steering parents away from court and providing a more holistic, balanced alternative to the conflict and expense of adversarial court processes.

Under this program, parents were referred to mental health professionals who sought to resolve parenting disputes through mediation but, if mediation failed, were empowered to resolve . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

The Review of Government Appointments Should Be Public

Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake recently indicated that he could investigate the Ford government’s appointments of people with whom the Premier’s former chief of staff, Dean French, had some form of association or, indeed, all previous appointments. (Mr. French resigned as the premier’s chief of staff after news of appointments initially broke.) However, Mr. Wake also stated that he could report only to the premier and not release his findings to the public. Yet the public has an interest in such cases, perhaps particularly one that appears to be so extensive, and not only in the appointments themselves, but . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

When Law Schools Start Offering Arts Degrees

The past decade has generally seen a significant contraction in the admission of legal graduates in the U.S., largely influenced by broader economic trends. The ABA Journal reported in 2017,

For nearly 40 years starting in 1971, law schools had an average first-year class size of 246 students, peaking to 262 in 2010. Since then, that average has dropped 31 percent to an average of 182 students.

This trend reversed last year, which has been attributed in part to greater political polarization in the U.S., especially around key legal and constitutional issues. The Law School Admission Council volume comparisons over . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Justice Issues

What We Know About the Impact of the Cuts to Community Legal Clinics’ Funding: Are They Prologue to More Dramatic Change?

The impact of the Ford government’s 30% cut to legal aid has now been made explicit and that impact is to pare down the clinics’ contributions to access to justice. The cuts to the criminal justice system are important, but it is also crucial to understand how the cuts to the clinics affect those living in poverty in their everyday lives. (For the impact of cuts in other areas, see Legal Aid Ontario’s announcement.) . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Over 50 Justice Organizations Agree to a Common Access to Justice Goal That Puts User Experience at the Centre

Yesterday (June 12) in Vancouver, leaders of BC’s justice system came together to endorse the Access to Justice Triple Aim.

The one goal of improving access to justice in BC has three interrelated elements:

  1. improving population access to justice
  2. improving the user experience of access to justice and
  3. improving costs (as they relate to access to justice).

Each participating organization has committed to a common goal to improve access to justice in BC and to action to pursue that goal. How organizations choose to act is for them to decide within the context of their respective mandates.

Implicit in . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements, Justice Issues

Needed Change to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Much has been said about what is wrong with the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), particularly in relation to certain categories of workers, whether fundamentally about the notion of “migrant worker” or about details of the program. One of the serious problems with the program has been the way in which workers have been tied to particular employers. A recent change, allowing workers to change employers, has the potential to address one of the negative aspects of the system. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

Pernicious and Unfair Assumptions Around Colonial Genocide

In 1991, the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. McCraw reviewed the threat of a criminally accused to inflict bodily harm, and discussed how rape is an act of violence, and not just a sexual act,

It is difficult if not impossible to distinguish the sexual component of the act of rape from the context of violence in which it occurs. Rape throughout the ages has been synonymous with an act of forcibly imposing the will of the more powerful assailant upon the weaker victim. Necessarily implied in the act of rape is the imposition of the assailant’s will

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

Using Law to Restrict Freedom of Religion and Conscience: The Vaccination Issue

Generally speaking, those of us above “a certain age” grew up suffering from dangerous childhood diseases, such as chicken pox, measles and mumps, among others. Most of us survived, but not every child did and even among the survivors, children lost their hearing or there were other negative consequences (increased risk of miscarriage for women contracting measles during pregnancy, for example). Measles can result in swelling of the brain, ear infections, pneumonia, among other serious conditions.

What a blessing the vaccines to end these diseases were. The measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, the mumps vaccine was approved . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Carding Finally Discussed at Supreme Court

Toronto has the most diverse population in Canada, and possibly the word. The myriad of different cultures and ethnicities not only co-exist, but largely mingle and interact on a deep level that is likely not seen anywhere else.

At the same time, the diverse populations of Toronto have a complicated relationship with police services, who they often perceive as treating inappropriately, based on stereotypes, prejudices, or even racial profiling. There are many reasons for this, but they include the challenge of many officers living or growing up outside these diverse communities, police divisions under financial and resource strains, and occasionally, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions