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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Perceptions Matter, but Reality Matters More

Judges are not immune from scrutiny, but we should be cautious in the manner in which we exert that scrutiny.

Sometimes that scrutiny is thrust directly into the public forum, as with Justice Zabel’s incident on Nov. 9, 2016, when he wore a hat from the American president’s election campaign.

Lawyers were upset, understandably, as there were legitimate concerns about political partisanship generally, but also about the appearance of bias towards any of the historically marginalized or radicalized groups that the presidential candidate had made offensive comments about. The public were even more concerned, especially where a Canadian judge appeared . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

“Chain Migration” and the Importance of Language

The most recent controversy stemming from the Twitter account of the-president-who-shall-not-be-named related to “chain migration”. This refers to immigrants who seek to gain points or favour with the destination country based on their personal connections to people residing or connected to that country. The idea is that the citizens or residents are creating a “chain” to help bring members of their personal networks to the country and thereby circumvent or undermine the application process. In Canada, we would call this “family reunification” and it is explicitly stated as one of the Objectives within immigration law.

Subsection 3(1)(d) of the Immigration . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

Survey of 3000 Canadians on Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice

The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) surveyed over 3,000 people in Canada to better understand their experiences with the civil and family justice system.

The survey was part of a major national 2011-2017 study by the non-profit organization on the social and economic costs of Canada’s justice system. The study was funded by a $1 million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The CFCJ has broken down the survey results based on the following criteria:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Regulating the Future Flows of Big Data Overseas

The relevance of big data and artificial intelligence transcends process improvements in law alone, and will increasingly become the a significant subject matter within law. The impetus for this will be the increased reliance that private industries place on the collection, use and disclosure of consumer information.

Ramona Pringle of the CBC recently stated,

There was a time that oil companies ruled the globe, but “black gold” is no longer the world’s most valuable resource — it’s been surpassed by data.

“Data is clearly the new oil,” says Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Increased Diversity in Provincial Appointments

One year ago, I called for greater diversity in judicial appointments. The federal government responded, implementing significant changes in the appointment process, and prioritizing diversity as a form of merit.

Our ad hoc group, Lawyers for Representative Diversity, representing the majority of diverse legal organizations in Canada, then approached the provincial government in Ontario. The situation in Ontario has long been different than that of the federal government, primarily because the province is the most diverse in Canada.

Earlier this month, the provincial government announced new policies around judicial appointments, including options on application forms ” to self-identify as Indigenous, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Canada 150 and the Meaning of Citizenship

Last week, I attended a ceremony for 80 new citizens as a guest of Friends of Filipino Immigrants in Manitoba. The room was packed with folks from 18 different countries all coming together to celebrate becoming Canadian. The atmosphere was festive, bordering on jubilant. A choir of children started the national anthem and we all joined in. Some sang in English and others in French. And the Citizenship Judge, Dwight MacAulay, reminded us of some of the key events over the past 150 years that have built this country before he bestowed the prize that each of them . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

British Columbia Human Rights Commission Coming Back After 15 Years

On August 4, 2017, the newly elected NDP government announced that they will “re-establish a human rights commission to fight inequality and discrimination in all its forms.” . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Judicial Dialogue With the Masses via Social Media

In 1997, Peter Hogg responded to criticisms of judicial activism in the post-Charter era by suggesting that the legislature is instead involved in a flexible and dynamic relationship with the courts over Charter rights. He explained this concept, often referred to as the “dialogue principle,” in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal,

Where a judicial decision is open to legislative reversal, modification, or avoidance, then it is meaningful to regard the relationship between the Court and the competent legislative body as a dialogue. In that case, the judicial decision causes a public debate in which Charter values play a more

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

A Judicial Vision of Canada at 150 and Beyond

For most of us today, the Supreme Court of Canada is the arbiter of the most complex questions of law, and the definitive authority for morality in our democracy.

It wasn’t always that way. In 1867, Canada was still largely an extension of the British Empire, and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London (England, not Ontario), was still maintained for appeals until 1949. The King–Byng Affair and Balfour Declaration let to an amendment of the Supreme Court Act in 1949, and the final case being appealed to it in 1959.

It’s influence quickly accelerated. In 1968, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The Positive Parenting Project: A Collaborative Local Initiative in the Therapeutic Justice Movement

“Spare the rod, spoil the child”, the old adage went. In Canada, we have come a long way from that belief in child-rearing, even with the availability of section 43 of the Criminal Code to parents/teachers or others standing in the place of a parent.

To raise children, given what research into child development indicates, requires incredible expertise and ongoing education. Early child educators, academics and parenting experts advise parents how best to navigate this complicated road. In my experience, many of those who are charged with over-discipline of their children did not have a great example of parenting themselves, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

Problems in Family Law Are More Than Just Gender

Lawyers agree on few things, but one of the issues that there appears to be consensus on is that the legal system is in crisis. The family law system is particularly strained, and complaints about family law go back decades.

I touched on this briefly in my recent column in National Magazine,

From 1997 to 1999, the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access studied the impact of family law on children. The main complaint was that the process affected parents’ relationships with their children.

Litigants (sic) pointed to a presumed gender bias in the courts, unethical practices

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

Shocking the Criminal Justice System Into Action

We meant what we said, when we described in R. v. Jordan last year, a culture of complacency towards delay in the criminal justice system.”  This could encapsulate what the Supreme Court of Canada signaled in its recent decision in R. v. Cody, where they rejected submissions by interveners by provincial governments to provide greater flexibility in applying unreasonable delay.

Section 11(b) of the Charter was always expected to be interpreted judicially as to what a reasonable delay in our justice system meant. The highly subjective nature of prejudice under the previous 1992 Morin framework was also unpredictable, as . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions