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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Education, Unbundling, Pro Bono, Lawyer Surcharge, Judicial Intervention-What’s the Answer to Achieving A2J?

We know that too many litigants are forced to represent themselves, sometimes with some form of assistance. These are people who cannot afford a lawyer and do not qualify for legal aid. (I am concerned here with people who would prefer to have a lawyer rather than those who want to represent themselves.) They may not even become litigants, but, where they are able, give up the opportunity to seek the justice they believe they deserve. They may then, legal problems left unresolved, find themselves spiraling downward into other problems. We know all this. But what we don’t seem to . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Investigating Issues of Intersectionality

The notion of “intersectionality” has become a popular buzzword in pop culture and social activist groups. It describes the notion that various grounds of discrimination, such as gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, etc., can affect and interact with each other in overlapping and complex ways.

First coined within the feminist movement in the early 80’s to help illustrate the exclusion of racialized women from many feminist initiatives, it helped illustrate how advocacy on behalf of a discriminated or marginalized group can also inadvertently create its own patterns of oppression and exclusion, not only towards other discriminated groups, but within . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

PMO, Minister of Justice and Attorney General; AG and SNC-Lavalin: The Possibilities

We don’t know yet what really the reality of the allegations that the PMO “pressured” (whatever that means) the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General to (in turn) tell the Director of Public Prosecutions to let SNC-Lavalin to enter into a “deferred prosecution agreement” rather than go to trial on charges of bribing officials (and engaging in fraud and corruption) in Libya is. There are a number of possibilities, ranging from “business as usual” to improper political interference that amounts to a breach of the rule of law. Let’s unpack at least some of those possibilities, relating them to . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Need for a Code of Conduct for Family Law Disputes, Part 2

Last Tuesday, I was honoured to be presented with the Distinguished Service Award for service to the community from the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Bar Association Alberta. I took advantage of the more or less captive audience to discuss the need to improve the Code of Conduct to better reflect the practice realities of family law lawyers and the needs of their clients, and the needs of their clients’ children. As my remarks were received with more interest than I’d expected, I thought I would take this opportunity to describe in more detail the sort of changes . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Recognizing Trusted Intermediaries as a Systematic Part of the Legal System

Intermediaries are individuals (or organizations) that help to connect two other individuals (or organizations). They are not themselves “legal” actors, but they can be an important link between individuals with a legal problem and a legal professional who is able to assist them. For example, an individual working in a community centre dedicated to helping refugees might be able to direct a refugee facing legal problems to an immigration lawyer. They may also refer people to others who play a formal role as a “legal” actor in the system. However, the referral may be to another trusted intermediary: for instance, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Problem of Supporting Family Law Research: Creating a National Research Fund

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family closed its doors on 31 August 2018, largely as a result of its inability to make up the shortfall in its revenues from sources other than its primary funder, the Alberta Law Foundation. This reduced the number of national organizations conducting original social science and legal research on the impact of laws on Canadian families from one to none.

Perhaps as a result, noted lawyers Melanie Del Rizzo and Wayne Barkauskas, the current and former chairs of the Canadian Bar Association’s national family law section respectively, have tabled a resolution for . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Investigating Consent: Lessons Learned From the Surviving R. Kelly Documentary

In the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly”, R. Kelly’s alleged patterns of manipulation and abuse are exposed. R. Kelly begins most of his abusive relationships by promising young girls mentorship and access to music deals. This “mentorship” quickly turns sexual. He then increasingly violates young women’s boundaries. The ones that don’t turn away, he deems fit to move in with him.

Once they are in his home, they become prisoners. Often isolated and locked in rooms without access to a toilet or food for days. When the women are allowed out, they must obey him or be beaten.

Survivors described their . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Conundrum of the Difficult Client

From the moment I created my first public legal education family law website, BC Family Law Resource, in 2001, I have been contacted by people from across Canada, mostly in British Columbia, dealing with difficult family law issues on their own. Although a study of the users of the website’s current incarnation, JP Boyd on Family Law, found that a significant share of users are legal professionals, it was litigants without counsel and people simply browsing for legal information who I originally set out to help.

In the years that passed, hundreds, maybe thousands, of people have gotten in . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Court of Appeal Materials on Greenhouse Gas Challenge

On Sept. 14, 2018, the Government of Ontario announced a challenge to the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, which will have significant economic and environmental implications, irrespective of how it is decided. A statement of particulars was required by this date, and the province specified that the Act creates an unconstitutional tax because it is ultra vires of the federal government, and contravenes s. 53 of the Constitution Act, 1867. The full arguments are available here.

Given the broad public interest, the Court of Appeal ordered that any province or territory may intervene as a . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Advocates Providing “Legal Services”

There’s change on the horizon for Manitoba’s legal community, and not everyone is on board with it.

If you’ve ever read my posts here (and I haven’t written in quite a while, so you may not have), you will likely not be surprised to learn that I support the current efforts of Legal Aid Manitoba to seek permission from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (“IRB”) to use trained advocates rather than lawyers to represent asylum-seekers where appropriate to do so.

According to this CBC News report, Legal Aid Manitoba is seeking to have its advocates not only . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Big 3 Legal Issues for 2019

There are lots of legal topics that will likely make headlines in 2019, but here are my top 3 pick for hot or important legal issues in the new year:

  1. Cannabis-related litigation will abound.The much anticipated legislation for marijuana legalization was already delayed by punting back and forth by the Senate. Implementation in Ontario was further hampered by restrictions on sales and distribution issues due to the postal strike. Most cannabis in Ontario is currently still sourced illegally.
    There have been plenty of conversations about the potential implications of marijuana legalization in Canada, spanning everything from its use in the
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Law, Norms and Moral Authority

Taking a break from the merry of merry Christmas and thinking about the last year, I can’t help focusing on the extent to which law, norms and moral authority have been diminished in Ontario since June 2018 and the beginning of the Ford government. We often refer to governments or administrations by the name of the premier or prime minister (or presidents), but in this case, from all accounts, the term seems particularly apropos: this is a government run from the centre at the diktat of the premier. Nothing on the face of it makes this clear than the continued . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues