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Legal Empowerment Reports

The Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor has released its second report in as many weeks. Volume 1, “Making the Law Work for Everyone” [PDF], the Commission’s main report, was released on June 3, and is also available in French, Spanish and Arabic. Volume 2, “Working Group Reports” [PDF] was released recently.

The Commission is a cooperative venture by prominent politicians and lawyers from dozens of countries around the world — Canada is a charter member — and is “hosted” by the United Nations Development Programme. Lloyd Axworthy, a former Minister of Foreign . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law

Kyoto and Justiciability

Chris Paliare was on his feet today, arguing for Friends of the Earth in a Federal Court judicial review to to force the Canadian government to follow the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, passed by Parliament a year ago. The case is a global first in seeking enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty ratified by 180 countries, including Canada.

The Notice of Application from September 2007 is here. Press releases are here and here.

Justice lawyers argued
that the Kyoto act is one of a few “unusual” statutes that Parliament never intended the courts . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law

Deciding Cases on Authorities Not Cited by the Parties

Today’s Wisconsin Law Journal raises a neat issue: whether it’s appropriate for judges to conduct their own research and decide cases on authorities not cited by the parties. I know this is an issue that we’ve blogged on before and because of Semelhago v. Paramadevan Professor Swan feels strongly about the appropriateness of it..

The Wisconsin case (decided by the Court of Appeals) settled that it wasn’t improper for a circuit court to do independent research, since a competent judge has a duty to ensure the correct law is being applied.

The case is Camacho v. Trimble Irrevocable Trust . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

‘The Holy Grail of Archival Collections’

That’s what the Globe described the Steele Collection as this morning.

But for Slaw readers, the description better applies to The Times unveiling of the most significant cases reported in the paper from 1785 to 1869, including links to the actual reports from The Times of that period.

David Pannick introduces the concept. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law, Substantive Law

Kennedy’s Report on RCMP Use of Tasers

Paul E. Kennedy, Chair, Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, has released his final report on RCMP Use of the Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) (i.e. Tasers). (A PDF version is available.

As an aside, why is it that the online news stories fail to contain a link to the original report? I don’t mind doing the ten seconds of research myself, but it does seem odd that a web-based news outlet would ignore an easily available link to the documents in question. Maybe they need librarians. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law, Technology

Faculty of Information

The Dean at the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto has announced an exciting development (exciting to me as an alumni): Effective June 30, 2008, their new name will be the Faculty of Information. I assume Dean Cantwell Smith will not mind me quoting part of his announcement:

While superficially minor (deletion of the single word “Studies”), we view this as a significant and exciting development. As we enter a period of leadership change, with Jens-Erik Mai serving as Acting Dean from July 1 through Dec 31 of 2008, and Seamus Ross arriving as new Dean on

. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training

Screen Time Study

StatsCan’s Health Reports delivered a one-two punch today with its interrelated reports on “Screen time among Canadian adults: A profile” [or PDF] and “Sedentary behaviour and obesity” [or PDF]:

A recent study of adults based on data from the 2007 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) found evidence that screen time (time spent viewing television and using computers) was positively associated with obesity, inactive leisure time and a poor diet.

I must say that at first blush the screen-time data don’t look as bad as I’d feared: 29% watch two hours of TV a day, . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology

Anatomy of an Attention Span

Google Trends has been improved lately — you can export data to a spreadsheet, for example — so I thought I’d take a look at how “copyright” has been faring as a search term in Canada over the last month. The graph that results shows clearly the increase in public interest as legislation became imminent, spiking just after the government introduced Bill C-61, and falling away within a day or two, headed for the usual level of general lack of interest.

If you click on the image of the chart, you can see an enlarged version; the “A” is the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology

Quebec Government Introduces Anti-SLAPP Legislation

Last week, the Quebec government introduced a bill in the National Assembly (provincial legislature) to tackle the issue of SLAPPs.

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs for short, typically take the form of defamation actions brought by large corporate actors in an attempt to shut down criticism by non-governmental organizations or local citizens. The actions are seen by critics as an abuse of process, or a form of legal bullying by interests with deep pockets who try to bankrupt opponents or intimidate them into silence.

Bill 99 will amend the Quebec Code of Civil Procedure to authorize courts . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation