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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Are Components of Competence

What does it mean to be a lawyer?

Is it to possess an encyclopedic knowledge the law? To use this knowledge to make money? Is being a lawyer simply just another way to make money (as some who correctly identify the lack of business skills among lawyers as one of the major challenges for innovation or reform point out)?

What differentiates the law from other businesses are the professional responsibilities imposed on a lawyer, through the Model Code of Professional Conduct and its implemented versions across Canada. Some of these responsibilities, such as the duty to the court and to . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Justice Issues

Mobilizing the Legal Corps in Puerto Rico

When disaster strikes, other professions have formalized organizations to assist with the response and recovery that follows. Physicians have Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and engineers have Engineers Without Borders. As a former disaster management professional and first responder, a career in law sometimes feels geographically limiting.

Lawyers are notoriously apt to stick within borders, and to a certain extent there are constraints to the portability in law. However, my humanitarian work overseas, and the implementation of Sphere Principles, was one of my first exposures to real-world implementation of international law, and one of the roads that eventually . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Sausage Man at the Corner of Queen and University

Sometimes things do change.

To much debate this week the Law Society of Upper Canada, which has brandished this name for over two centuries, voted to change the name to drop “Upper Canada.”

It might seem a strange controversy to outsiders, who might be puzzled with the attachment to an acronym that spells “El-Suck,” or alternatively the need to spend what will likely be hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebranding and administrative expenses. But it has been one of the issues that has deeply divided the legal community now for years.

It really started in 2012, when Thomas Vincent, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

A Sign of the Times

A new Practice Direction from Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench reflects increasing acceptance of the fact that litigants without lawyers are no longer an anomaly in civil litigation. The notice sets out that contested motions and applications involving at least one self-representing litigant must be set for a case management conference before a contested hearing takes place. This is already the norm for contested motions in the Family Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench, regardless whether there is a self-represented party, but is new in the Civil Division.

Other than the procedural change, two specific aspects of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

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