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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

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

Fifth Bibliography on Access to Justice From National Self-Represented Litigants Project

The National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) has published Version 5 of its Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography.

From the description on the NSRLP website:

“Version 5 of the Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography includes over
100 summaries on access-to-justice material in the Canadian, American,
and International context. Our latest updated Version 5 contains a
specific section dedicated to unbundling and legal coaching, reflecting
the increasing attention being given to these areas (…)”

The NSRLP, which flows out of the work conducted by Dr. Julie Macfarlane, Faculty of Law of the University of Windsor, describes itself as a clearinghouse . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Holding Refugees Hostage at Legal Aid Ontario

Legal Aid Ontario is in a mess. In what should have been a good news story, LAO received new funding to enhance access to justice in recent years. Using this money, LAO created new programs and increased financial eligibility thresholds for existing programs. But LAO miscalculated demand for legal services and gave out more legal aid certificates than they could afford. The result: a deficit.

LAO now says that the deficit is not their fault. The big problem is that Canada has become increasingly welcoming towards refugees (you saw Trudeau’s tweet, right?). There is “unprecedented demand” for legal aid from . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Permanence and Independence of the Bench

Judicial independence is obviously a bedrock of our legal system, required to ensure the autonomy and function of the courts without outside interference. Occasionally, however, there are instances where this autonomy needs to be reigned in.

The authority for doing this for federally appointed judges can be found under Part II of the Judges Act, which creates the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC), and its powers to commence an inquiry for removal under s. 63. Since the inception of the CJC in 1971, complaints of 13 judges have proceeded to the public inquiries stage. The last one, in 2016, involved . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Evaluation Time for Unbundled Family Law Legal Services in BC

Back in January, BC lawyers received a host of new resources supporting unbundled legal service. Our organization helped launch the Family Law Unbundling Roster along with a toolkit for lawyers explaining why they should join. Unbundling is well described here.

Since then, conversations and buzz about unbundling has been doing the rounds here in BC and elsewhere:

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

Disability and the Practice of Law

“There was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.” – The Great Gatsby 

We often talk about how the law discriminates against people with disabilities. But not much attention is given to how the structure of practicing law discriminates against people with disabilities. Technology has eased some of the burden. But we have a long way to go.

The way we practice law is in itself discriminatory against people with disabilities. For example, litigation requires lawyers to read lots of material, write lots of material, listen to lots . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Cultural Competency in End of Life Care in Ontario

Ontario is the most diverse province in Canada, and one of the most diverse regions in the world. The forms of diversity found in Ontario include different cultures, languages, ethnicities, and beliefs.

These diverse population groups also trend across age demographics, including the elderly, where there are often special care needs that are distinct from the rest of the population. The prominence of end-of-life care among the elderly also means that the conjunction of diversity and demographics raises some interesting issues in the provision of health care.

We recently concluded a study through the Law Commission of Ontario as part . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Justice Issues