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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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Time for full-time: give doctoral candidates a salary

Canadian doctoral candidates, who study in relative obscurity to advance the state of knowledge, are poorly remunerated (if they are remunerated at all). More doctoral candidates are receiving their degrees at the present time than ever before: federal and provincial funding agencies simply do not have the resources to keep up with demand. Nor do …

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Taking the time for wellness v. fostering the spirit of wellness

The University of Ottawa’s Wellness Week, which aims to help students and staff mind their own mental health during a self-declared mental health crisis, falls well short of a useful response to mental health concerns. Then again, a recent University report promises a ‘cross-university wellness strategic framework’. If such a framework is going to work, …

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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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University education: teach narratives, not hard skills

The quality of Anglo-American university education is eroding, and the Government of Ontario this past week confirmed its rapidly decaying state. With its rapidly ageing motto, ‘open for business,’ finally maturing, the Minister of Colleges and Universities announced that a long negotiation with Ontarian public universities resulted in a new five-year plan. Ontarian universities will now receive government funds based …

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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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Colonial illness haunts Canada’s Parliament

Democracy Watch, an organization that works toward empowering Canadians and Canadian democracy, again turned to Federal Court to challenge the Canadian judicial appointments process. The organization’s frequent turns away from democratic institutions like Parliament speak to dwindling confidence in any sort of responsible government. The organization’s judicial challenge, in this case, speaks to the continuing …

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Nova Scotian House of Assembly does not sit for nine months

The Nova Scotia House of Assembly has ground to a standstill for the nine months that COVID-19 has raged throughout the world. I contend that this legislative inaction can either be attributed to the hyper-politicization of parliamentary procedure or to uninformed members stumbling through the motions. Either case is concerning, and it should concern all …

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The United Kingdom Parliament, arguably the home of conservatism

Preservatives and conservatives in a technological society

Don your futurist caps and peer into a political reality in which technology accelerates the speed at which society changes; what role is left for conservatives? The political, deliberative realm that we sometimes trust to chart our societies’ course either fades as deliberative government becomes too lugubrious for rapid development, or the speed of deliberative …

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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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