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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

45th Annual CIAJ Conference: Indigenous Peoples and the Law

From November 17-19, 2021, the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice (CIAJ) will hold a national conference which focuses on “Indigenous Peoples and the Law.”

This event will take place in person in Vancouver and online (though in-person registration has sold out).

The conference will be welcoming some thirty speakers, among which many representatives of Indigenous Peoples across Canada and key players in the justice system. The conference will explore the current state and future of the self-government of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Vital to the discussion will be the issues of the decolonization of legal institutions, . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements, Justice Issues

Community Organizations and Access to Justice

I’ve long thought that community non-profits play a major role in increasing access to justice — and can play an even more significant role under the right circumstances. In this post, I consider this view in light of a 2020 report on measures to advance the contribution of community-based organizations and an October 28, 2021 Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters event, “Advancing Community-Based Access to Justice”, involving representatives from four Canadian community-based organizations. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

A New Wrinkle on Judicial Conduct Allegations

It seems the Tax Court of Canada added its own wrinkle to the complaints last year to the Canadian Judicial Council about Justice David Spiro’s intervention in the hiring of a new Director of the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program (“the Program”). (See the The Globe and Mail (“The Globe”) stories about the Tax Court here and about Justice Spiro’s intervention here).

A Faculty of Law hiring committee at the University of Toronto recommended the appointment of Dr. Valentina Azarova as the new Director of the Program. Dr. Azarova’s scholarship concerned Palestine-Israel relations. Justice Spiro raised the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Handling Vaccine Hesitancy in the Workplace

On Friday, right before Ontarians were entering the long weekend, the Chief Public Health Officer announced that Canada may be entering a 4th wave. The likelihood of a resurgence will largely depend on how many people are fully vaccinated. An estimated 89.7% of all new cases are occurring in eligible but unvaccinated people, even though the Prime Minister recently noted there are enough doses to vaccinate everyone in the country.

Some post-secondary institutions in Ontario are making vaccinations mandatory for all students and employees, with the province considering making vaccines mandatory for certain occupations. Half of all vaccinated Canadians indicate . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Determining Judicial Ethical Conduct: Not So Straightforward? Part II


In the first of these two Slaw posts, I wrote about the two inquiries into Ontario Court of Justice (“OCJ”) judge Donald McLeod’s alleged misconduct. Here I discuss not only this OCJ judge who deliberately met with politicians in the context of an activist group he founded post-judicial appointment, but also a judge who acted as a messenger for a group to which he had belonged to someone in the university administration about an academic appointment; a judge whose husband had effectively engaged in cyberbullying against her; a judge who went to the assistance of a law school facing . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Bad Faith Abounds at Landlord Tenants Tribunal

Over the past 6 months, after many landlords in Ontario claimed that some tenants were using the pandemic as an excuse to not pay rent, it’s becoming increasingly clear that many landlords themselves are using these circumstances to violate the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.

The Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) has been described as “chaos,” as early as late 2020, and the circumstances since that time have not improved. The province’s Digital First Strategy was intended to save money and improve efficiencies, and probably works best in court proceedings where all the parties are represented.

At the LTB, most tenants are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Determining Judicial Ethical Conduct: Not So Straightforward? Part I


Time was the community or advocacy activity of lawyers with judicial aspirations centred around fundraising and other activities related to participation in our major political parties. Eventually, some of these lawyers found themselves rewarded with a judicial appointment. They cut their ties, as far as anyone knew, with their favoured party. It was not difficult to end their pre-judicial activity and remove themselves from community involvement. More recently, however, with the net for potential judges cast far wider in order to increase diversity on the bench, the community work aspirants engage in may be quite different. And so we . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues

Arbitration and the Death of the Common Law

A couple of years ago, in the Before Times, I chaired a panel discussion on the arbitration of family law disputes at a wonderful program hosted by the Legal Education Society of Alberta in Lake Louise. The purposes of the panel were, firstly, to encourage a critical and creative approach to the design of arbitration processes and, secondly, to promote the arbitration of family law disputes in those parts of the province where it has yet to achieve the profile it rightly enjoys in Calgary.

The panel was a success – and with experienced arbitrators including Justice Sherry Kachur, Doug . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Notwithstanding in Ontario, Yet Again

Nearly three years ago, I wrote here that the use of s. 33 in Ontario constituted “UnChartered waters.”

Given the successful appeal in that case, the use of the clause ultimately wasn’t necessary. However, I was fortunate to appear as an intervener before the Court to note that the potential use of the notwithstanding clause would presumably emerge in circumstances that were clearly pressing and substantial, and asked the Court to carefully scrutinize any such rationale as a result. That decision is still pending.

Perhaps because the case involved the elections of a single city (albeit the largest in Canada, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Benchmarking the Ontario Court System

Systems and entities can be evaluated by measuring inputs against outputs, and then benchmarked against peers to rank relative performance. This simplistic measurement tool may not indicate optimal performance (as a whole sector could be functioning poorly) but it can be helpful generally to identify the best and worst performing entities within a given peer group. It can likewise prove useful to identify areas in need of improvement, and when tracked over time, can identify trends in performance. In sum, benchmarking is useful to gauge the relative performance, or lack thereof, of the Ontario court system.

The function of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

CJC Handbooks for Self-Represented Litigants

The Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) was founded in 1971, under what is now Part II of the Judges Act, largely stemming from concerns from the Royal Commission of Inquiry from the Justice Leo Landereville affair.

The Council has 41 members, and in the modern world helps the Canadian judicial system keep up with the values of society. However, the the CJC has faced criticism over its policies and procedures in recent years.

The CJC has released several important guidance documents over the years, including the Ethical Principle for Judges in 1998. In 2006, the CJC released the Statement of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Proposed Rules Under the Legal Aid Services Act, 2020: Impact on Community Legal Clinics

In July 2020, the Ontario Legislative Assembly enacted new legislation governing the provision of legal aid in the province, Legal Aid Services Act, 2020 (“2020 Act”). The legislation does not come into force until it has been proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor and that won’t happen until new rules have been finalized. The board of Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) (called “the Corporation” under the 2020 Act) has the authority under section 46 of the 2020 Act to make rules governing the provision of legal aid. The proposed rules are currently available for comment on Legal Aid Ontario’s website (more on that . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation