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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

The Milgaard Story’s Importance for the Presumption of Innocence

David Milgaard is reported to have passed away this weekend at the age of 69. He spent 23 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit.

Milgaard was convicted in 1970, and spent the ages of 16 to 39 in prison, following the discovery of a nurse’s body in the snowbank. His appeal to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal was dismissed the following year, and the Supreme Court of Canada refused him leave to appeal. That same year, a pattern of sexual assaults committed by Larry Fisher came to light, which matched the offence in question. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Importance of Right to Counsel

The Charter‘s right to counsel under s. 10(b) is an often misunderstood and confused right by many members of the public. This confusion likely emerges from unintentional analogies to the commonly cited American case Miranda v. Arizona, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966) in television and movies.

The Court did adopt elements that mirrored Miranda rights in the early Charter case of R. v. Brydges, 1990 CanLII 123 (SCC). The Court found that s. 10(b) meant that police have a duty to informed individuals who are detained or arrested of their right to retain and instruct counsel, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Improving Access to Justice While Addressing Trauma

In the article, “Measuring Improvements in Access to Justice“, the authors Brea Lowenberger et al, expertly write about measuring the effectiveness of access to justice initiatives. A quick summary is outlined in the table below:

In measuring initiatives, we should also be mindful on how they address litigants’ traumas. Many areas of litigation arise from or involve some sort of trauma. 

In the book “Trauma: the invisible epidemic”, Dr. Paul Conti explains that “Trauma comes in various forms, frequencies, and intensities…” As a general rule, “the worst the trauma, the worse the cascade of harm that follows”.

To . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Emergencies Act


When Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act in mid-October 1970 in response to a request by Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa, I was a grad student in Political Science at McMaster University. Justification was the “state of apprehended insurrection” existing in the province. Some of us posted a petition against its invocation in a hallway near our offices; someone tore it down, and we put it up again. We protested. In fact, protesting was illegal under the War Measures Act, but no one outside Quebec bothered about that. I remember telling people I knew that . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

12 Trends in Estate Litigation for 2022

If 2021 is any indication, 2022 promises to be another busy year in estate litigation. With the incredible transfer of inter-generational wealth occurring right now, skyrocketing real estate values, the increase in blended families, and the heightened level of emotion when a loved one dies, estate litigation is going to continue to be a reality for many people in Canada.

Here are 12 of the top trends and recurring themes in estate litigation that I see as we start the New Year.

1. Challenging whether a person was actually the “spouse” of the deceased

Spouses have certain rights and available . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

The Divisional Court’s Decision in Ontario Teacher Candidates’ Council


In its December 2021 decision in Ontario Teacher Candidates’ Council v. The Queen, the Divisional Court held that the standardized Mathematics Proficiency Test (“MPT”) the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) had developed and the Ontario government had implemented for prospective teachers was unconstitutional because it disadvantaged Black and Indigenous candidates.

As a remedy, the Court allowed all candidates who had otherwise satisfied teacher qualification requirements to enter the profession. . . . [more]

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

45th Annual CIAJ Conference: Indigenous Peoples and the Law

From November 17-19, 2021, the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice (CIAJ) will hold a national conference which focuses on “Indigenous Peoples and the Law.”

This event will take place in person in Vancouver and online (though in-person registration has sold out).

The conference will be welcoming some thirty speakers, among which many representatives of Indigenous Peoples across Canada and key players in the justice system. The conference will explore the current state and future of the self-government of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Vital to the discussion will be the issues of the decolonization of legal institutions, . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements, Justice Issues

Community Organizations and Access to Justice

I’ve long thought that community non-profits play a major role in increasing access to justice — and can play an even more significant role under the right circumstances. In this post, I consider this view in light of a 2020 report on measures to advance the contribution of community-based organizations and an October 28, 2021 Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters event, “Advancing Community-Based Access to Justice”, involving representatives from four Canadian community-based organizations. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

A New Wrinkle on Judicial Conduct Allegations

It seems the Tax Court of Canada added its own wrinkle to the complaints last year to the Canadian Judicial Council about Justice David Spiro’s intervention in the hiring of a new Director of the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program (“the Program”). (See the The Globe and Mail (“The Globe”) stories about the Tax Court here and about Justice Spiro’s intervention here).

A Faculty of Law hiring committee at the University of Toronto recommended the appointment of Dr. Valentina Azarova as the new Director of the Program. Dr. Azarova’s scholarship concerned Palestine-Israel relations. Justice Spiro raised the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Handling Vaccine Hesitancy in the Workplace

On Friday, right before Ontarians were entering the long weekend, the Chief Public Health Officer announced that Canada may be entering a 4th wave. The likelihood of a resurgence will largely depend on how many people are fully vaccinated. An estimated 89.7% of all new cases are occurring in eligible but unvaccinated people, even though the Prime Minister recently noted there are enough doses to vaccinate everyone in the country.

Some post-secondary institutions in Ontario are making vaccinations mandatory for all students and employees, with the province considering making vaccines mandatory for certain occupations. Half of all vaccinated Canadians indicate . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Determining Judicial Ethical Conduct: Not So Straightforward? Part II


In the first of these two Slaw posts, I wrote about the two inquiries into Ontario Court of Justice (“OCJ”) judge Donald McLeod’s alleged misconduct. Here I discuss not only this OCJ judge who deliberately met with politicians in the context of an activist group he founded post-judicial appointment, but also a judge who acted as a messenger for a group to which he had belonged to someone in the university administration about an academic appointment; a judge whose husband had effectively engaged in cyberbullying against her; a judge who went to the assistance of a law school facing . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Bad Faith Abounds at Landlord Tenants Tribunal

Over the past 6 months, after many landlords in Ontario claimed that some tenants were using the pandemic as an excuse to not pay rent, it’s becoming increasingly clear that many landlords themselves are using these circumstances to violate the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.

The Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) has been described as “chaos,” as early as late 2020, and the circumstances since that time have not improved. The province’s Digital First Strategy was intended to save money and improve efficiencies, and probably works best in court proceedings where all the parties are represented.

At the LTB, most tenants are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions