law

The Winnipeg courthouse in which Justice Joyal disclosed the events that may constitute a contempt of court.

Criminal contempt of court: Carpagate?

This note gives practitioners (and interested members of the public) a sense of the law surrounding criminal contempt of court. It describes some of the cases and then applies the cases to the facts described by Chief Justice Joyal. 

Patron v. Client: the modern lawyer’s relationships

Lawyers often refer to those who pay for services as ‘clients’, yet in the same breath frame their efforts in their service recipient’s interest. Use of the word ‘client’, though widespread in English, is inexact–and indeed may invert the relationship. The proper term does relate to the patron-client relationship, but lawyers are in fact the …

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The confused Canadian approach to conscience

The Canadian approach to conscience is, as the title suggests, confused. Conscience is often only paid scanting attention in judge-made law because its legal and social meaning is obscured by its most common manifestation. Courts adjudicating on issues relating to religious rights, or balancing the rights of a religious person or group against another minority’s interest, often touch on conscience as a facet of religion.

Michel Foucault assessing freedom of conscience in Madness and Civilization

A prolegomenon on freedom of conscience

One’s conscience is received by legal institutions and ethicists alike as the centre for moral decisions, yet the freedom to have a conscience is often interpreted in terms of religious belief. This interpretation is, of course, borne from conscience’s long association with religion: Canada’s governors were, for example, instructed to ‘permit Liberty of Conscience, and the free Exercise of all such modes of Religious Worship as are not prohibited by Law’.

An analogy for aviation medicine: old planes are cool, but scratch the surface and you often find the need to repair its systems.

People are looking to fly, but aviation medicine falls short

This post is cross-posted on CanLii. A significant danger when governing safety-sensitive occupations is lapsing into anecdotal evidentiary practises to justify rigid rules. The danger inherent in anecdotes is their subjectivity, which is often clothed in the guise of fact: a rule’s legitimacy depends on the safety that it provides, which in turn must relate …

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Arbitrators are able to exercise their conscience in decision-making similar to judges' powers in equity.

The arbitrator’s conscience and revivified legal pluralism

This post is cross-posted on CanLII. International and domestic arbitration is becoming an attractive dispute resolution service, and it is one that allows parties to chose the law under which their rights are established. As this form of law becomes increasingly popular, the limits of arbitral jurisdiction will be tested. International and domestic law on …

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Oversight awry: municipal police and elected oversight bodies, part II

Elected oversight of municipal (or provincial) police forces is, as I indicated in my previous post, a difficult system by which to enforce standards on police. Foremost among the difficulties of this system: the relative lack of enforcement power granted to these boards. A corollary difficulty is the civilian nature of the oversight. Lack of …

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Oversight awry: municipal police and elected oversight bodies, part I

The problem and our typical solution This analysis of police supervision in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States will appear in two parts. The first part breaks down the problem with civilian policing oversight; the second part addresses the issue with reference to English precedents that were received in Canada and the United …

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Quebec flag

Quebec protects language: the best defense is a good offense

Quebec calls for greater language protection for Canadian federal enterprises The Parliament of Quebec and the Bloc Québecois have formally requested an extension of cooperative federalism to Quebec language protection. ‘Cooperative federalism’ is a legal principle that has courts interpret legislation in ways that allow federal and provincial laws to work together. The term evokes greater ‘interlocking federal …

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Gobbets! Criminal police & Canadian healthcare

A couple thoughts for your edification, thoughts only unified by a wretched malaise about the lack of detail and creativity that too often creeps into public discourse. The first presents a method to prosecute Canadian police for abuses of power. The second reminds us that Canada’s constitution doesn’t make either level of government completely responsible …

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How to short circuit Donald Trump’s election suits: use a bill of peace to bring them into a single court

President Donald Trump has petulantly refused to accept the results of the American 2020 presidential election. His campaign and the Republican Party have filed almost a dozen lawsuits in Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, with more on the way. His aggressive legal action—actions that are being described as ‘entirely without merit’ and ‘flailing’—will almost assuredly not affect the election’s outcome. They …

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My research interests rely heavily on books.

Personal Research Interests

My research interests are off the beaten track. Deep dives into little-researched or little-known fields are my preferred method of coming up with unique and engaging ideas that challenge our perception of modernity as a unique historical period. My point of departure is invariably that ideas from the past continue to influence all facets of …

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