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’.

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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