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]
Archive for ‘Justice Issues’
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,
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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
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]
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]
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,
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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
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]
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]
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]
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]
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:
- The BC Law Society officially encouraged the provision of limited scope services, and debunked concerns that unbundled legal services has any correlation to increased complaints.
- Former Ontario court chief justice Annemarie Bonkalo released her report (“Family Legal Services Review
“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]
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.