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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Carding Finally Discussed at Supreme Court

Toronto has the most diverse population in Canada, and possibly the word. The myriad of different cultures and ethnicities not only co-exist, but largely mingle and interact on a deep level that is likely not seen anywhere else.

At the same time, the diverse populations of Toronto have a complicated relationship with police services, who they often perceive as treating inappropriately, based on stereotypes, prejudices, or even racial profiling. There are many reasons for this, but they include the challenge of many officers living or growing up outside these diverse communities, police divisions under financial and resource strains, and occasionally, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

How Law Affects the Relationship Between the People and Government

Law is a significant factor in how the individual is able or is forced to interact with the state. It may be a force of oppression, it may protect people from each other and indeed, from the state itself. It may enable people to attain rights and benefits. Our nexus with law helps to define us as a society. When the opportunity to employ law to attain rights is diminished or when law is used as a threat to force particular conduct based on improper motives, the nature of that nexus changes. Cuts to legal aid and the expected repeal . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information, Substantive Law: Legislation

Religion and the Law: “Respect” or Denial?

In Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the Ontario Court of Appeal sought to reconcile the religious views of doctors opposed to carrying out certain procedures with the rights of patients to equitable access to those procedures and to the public interest. Under Bill 21, the Quebec government seeks to deny the wearing of certain “religious” clothing in the interests of preserving a secular society. A comparison of these two situations help to illustrate how private religious beliefs might play out in the public sphere. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

Butterfly Transactions: Dividing Family Businesses Is Harder for Common Law Couples

Dividing up family property after separation or divorce can be a complicated affair. It is even more complicated when a family business is involved. The butterfly transaction or, divisive reorganization, is a common way of dividing up business assets after the breakdown of a common-law relationship or marriage. A butterfly transaction is a very complex process which requires the assistance of professional accountants and tax lawyers, but for some businesses the significant tax saving makes these professional fees worthwhile.

Generally, when assets are pulled out of company taxes must be paid to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). It is important . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Vote for the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Members of the public can help determine the winner of the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The prize, which is sponsored by ABA Journal and the University of Alabama School of Law, is “given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.”

It was established in 2011 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

The three finalists this year are:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Applying Habeas Corpus in Immigration Cases: Bringing Nuance to the Jurisprudence?

Although the ancient writ of habeas corpus is a significant protection against arbitrary detention (more recently acknowledged through section 10(c) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms), our courts have developed two circumstances in which it is not available because other remedies are equally effective, providing the same advantages to those who would claim it. Thus prisoners are not able to call on habeas corpus to challenge their conviction or sentence, since they can adequately appeal both under the Criminal Code. Habeas corpus is also displaced when a statutory scheme provides equivalent protection against arbitrary detention. Canada . . . [more]

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

Freemen Arrive at the Ontario Court of Appeal

Justice Rooke’s 2012 lengthy decision in Meads v. Meads attracted considerable attention, in particular given the peculiar nature of the nature of the parties he deemed “Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument (OPCA) Litigants.”

These litigants defy any general definition, aside from using entirely fictitious legal arguments gleaned from the Internet which purports to provide them complete immunity from the legal system. They can use the term Freeman-on-the-Land to denote their entirely unsubstantiated belief that they are free from the rules and laws that the rest of us abide by.

The hope of Justice Rooke’s particular exposé, and its dissemination by . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Access to Justice: More Legal Aid Funding Is Not Enough

The Legal Aid crisis in B.C. is yet another indication that the justice system is simply not working for most Canadians. Access to justice has become a major problem across Canada and it requires a holistic solution, including both more money to Legal Aid services as well as the promotion of new types of service models for people to choose to represent themselves.

On March 29, the B.C. government and the Legal Services Society announced a one time grant of $7.9 million to temporarily increase payments to Legal Aid lawyers. This was in response to a threatened strike by Legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Amendments to the Juries Act in Ontario

The current jury system has long been criticized in Ontario, in particular in regards to its diversity and representation. Hints in Ontario’s recent budget suggest some changes are forthcoming.

A big part of the reason for Ontario’s problems is that it is jury rolls remain an anomaly in Canada, and are based on specific provisions under the Juries Act. Although the Director of Assessments prepares jury questionnaires based on the provisions in s. 6, based on the inhabitants of the county under s. 15 of the Assessment Act who are Canadian citizens and who will be 18 at . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Cutting Legal Aid: Reducing Access to Justice and Increasing Other Social Costs

People who cannot afford lawyers (or in some cases paralegals) are at risk of not having their rights vindicated. Or they may not even try to assert their rights in the first place. A great number of ad hoc arrangements have been created to respond to this failure to provide access to justice, but the most systematic is the legal aid system. (I mentioned some of the other arrangements in a previous Slaw post and there are others.) Legal aid is not perfect — even with increased funding that has allowed it to offer legal aid to more people, it . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Incentivizing New Lawyers to Work in Rural Communities

[In Ontario] About 67% of lawyers are over the age of 40 and about half of all lawyers practise in Metropolitan Toronto. The age skew is similar in other provinces, where a notable percentage of lawyers have been practicing for 20 years or more and are entering the latter stages of their careers. The number of lawyers graduating is increasing, but not enough to offset the bubble of lawyers that will likely retire over the coming decades. (“Small communities struggle to pry lawyers from Canada’s big cities, despite promise of jobs” – Mandy Storey for National Post)

There . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Reforming the Canadian Judicial Council: The Benefit of Expanding the Consultation

In an interview with the National Post on March 31st, Chief Justice Richard Wagner announced that he planned to reform the Canadian Judical Council, saying “everything is on the table”. The Chief Justice also indicated that “he is reaching out to senior judges across the country to garner their views on what changes are needed”. So, an internal review to determine what kind of changes are required to an internal process considering judges’ conduct. Is it enough to consult only with “senior judges”? I suggest not, that a review of the CJC affects anyone who cares about the legal system . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues