The right to legal representation is as important as the right to education, healthcare and social assistance. Yet massive cuts to legal aid have left thousands without access to a lawyer. Kasari Govender is the executive director of West Coast LEAF. S…
Today, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police held its National Memorial Service at the RCMP Academy, “Depot” Division. In keeping with a tradition that began in the mid-1930s – when RCMP members gathered in Depot’s Sleigh Square to honour their fallen comrades – today’s ceremony honoured members, special constables and auxiliary constables who lost their lives in the line of duty.
From September 4-6, the RCMP’s maritime unit in Sault Ste Marie – Ontario and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) station in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan conducted a joint law enforcement patrol along the St. Marys River. This collaborative program is part of the Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations (ICMLEO) known as Canada-U.S. Shiprider.
If you’re making a flicking gesture with a pen near your computer, watch out. Microsoft may own the rights to the gesture you’re making. And if you like to draw letters of the alphabet using one penstroke per letter, you may one day find yourself payi…
I recently read the Canadian Bar Association report Reaching Equal Justice (I ran out of mysteries) and was surprised at the strength of the language. A sampling of the phrases describing justice in Canada today includes, “abysmal state of access to justice” and “huge discrepancies between the promise of justice and the lived reality.”
Some of the statistics presented don’t flatter this country
OTTAWA — Liberal leader Justin Trudeau wants it legalized. Canadian cops want to fine people for simple possession. Forget jobs and the economy, it seems marijuana is back on the public agenda. Still, there are economic implications for a Canada […]
OTTAWA — A university law professor is lashing out at a colleague, calling his recent complaint against Attorney General Peter MacKay to the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society “ill-advised, baseless and frivolous.” University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran made headlines […]
When Yankee Lawyer: The Autobiography of Ephraim Tutt came out in 1943, a lot of readers were confused. After all, Tutt was a fictional person, the hero of a series of legal novels. Or was he? Many fans became convinced that Tutt was a flesh-and-blood …
After the closures of Lavabit and Silent Circle, we had wondered which online service would be next to wind down after Edward Snowden’s PRISM revelations. Turns out that we’re losing Groklaw, the technology and law blog, which is stopping operatio…
Canada’s justice system has become out of reach for many of those who need it most, according to a new report by the Canadian Bar Association that calls on the federal government to restore legal aid funding to the level […]
An Iraqi single mom and a tech lawyer are suing ex-president George W. Bush for war crimes, believe they can prove the Iraq War was a “crime of aggression” under U.S. law.
The post Iraqi Single Mom And Tech Lawyer Suing George W. Bush for War Crimes appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.
OTTAWA — When newly minted Justice Minister and Attorney General Peter MacKay addresses the Canadian Bar Association for the first time on Monday, don’t expect him to follow in the footsteps of his U.S. counterpart and unveil a new direction for […]
The case highlights how contentious custody battles can force courts into complex decisions and how emotionally charged evidence is presented to a judge can prompt different outcomes.
Historian and author Jeremy Brecher argues that activists who engage in acts of civil disobedience and risk arrest are upholding the law, not violating it. The post Civil disobedience as law enforcement appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.
OTTAWA — It’s time for the Canadian government to come up with a clear policy to address issues of solicitor-client privilege when lawyers are asked to hand over their laptops and smart phones to border guards for inspection, legal experts […]
Now, in a highly unusual ruling sure to be scrutinized by any judge who struggles with indecision, the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled Judge Aston was wrong to acquit
WASHINGTON — While Canada has embarked on a route toward harsher penalties in a tough-on-crime political agenda, the U.S. signaled Monday it will make sweeping changes to its “broken” criminal justice system that are designed to render it more humane […]
Apple, in its ongoing battle over an e-book price fixing scandal, has been dealt yet another setback. Last month, Judge Denise Cote ruled that Apple had violated antitrust laws in conspiring with publishers to raise e-book prices. Cupertino asked …
Wouldn’t you know it! Canada is numero uno in the most “libertarian” countries for … guess what? Yup … you probably guessed right. Prostitution. Yikes!!
Alasdair Baverstock writing at TelegraphUK:
….The act of exchanging money for sex has never been illegal in Canada, however many of the country’s laws, such as prohibiting the offering of such services, make it almost impossible for a prostitute to work legally. ‘Bawdy Houses’ are illegal but generally tolerated…..
OTTAWA — Police say a Canadian soldier has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife. Fifty-year-old Howard Richmond appeared at the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa this morning to face the charge. Military sources say […]
A ruling issued today in an obscure lawsuit against Electronic Arts could have wide-ranging implications for movies, television, and even books — especially if they strive for realism. In fact, alarm bells should be going off for anyone interested in depicting the future realistically in their work.
FORNEY, Texas — George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer who was cleared of all charges in the Florida shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, was stopped for speeding on a highway near Dallas, officials said Wednesday. Forney police […]
‘Here’s the fundamental problem with image enhancement campaigns — they remind everyone … that you have a terrible image,’ one Ottawa lawyer wrote
A bawdy production at the Star Theatre gets Rev. R.B. St. Clair hot under the collar.
By the early decades of the 20th century, Torontonians had the choice of several theatres where they might enjoy some evening entertainment. The Royal Alexandra and the Princess Theatre were considered more highbrow and generally catered to the more sophisticated crowds. Shea’s Hippodrome was the city’s vaudeville theatre. And, catering primarily to the working class, [...]
If not, stick to watching and reading whatever the lamestream media churns out for your consumption.
The Last Refuge blog has all you ever wanted to know about the case and how Trayvon Martin’s “Scheme” team and all the instigators for discord …
America will be able to repair the damage done by Obama and gang. This should give all well-wishers for the USA a lot of hope.
SANFORD, Fla. — Neighbourhood watch captain George Zimmerman was cleared of all charges Saturday in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager whose killing unleashed furious debate across the U.S. over racial profiling, self-defence and equal justice. Zimmerman, […]
Eric Hodgson pleaded guilty this week to charges that he defrauded the California Department of Transportation out of $2 million. Among the assets seized in the settlement is Hodgson’s pricy collection of Star Wars memorabilia, valued at $10,000.Read m…
SAVANNAH, Ga. — Paula Deen has replaced her lead legal team, the latest fallout from her admission she used racial slurs in the past. Deen announced last week she had cut ties with her longtime agent who helped make her […]
The Government of Canada today announced the selection of KPMG, from Toronto, Ontario, to provide support as a third-party expert for upcoming National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) projects.
The Canadian press and Edmonton Journal EDMONTON — Two Edmonton men have been charged with kidnapping after a man alleged he was abducted during a meeting about selling his car. Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer police were all involved in […]
Wonderful little story. I hope the Australians have not gone total bonkers like the Brits who ignore the real perils of shariah but clamp down hard on good decent people who are non-Muslim.
Yup … like you (and don’t pretend you didn’t think the same thing) on reading the first few sentences I too thought the lovely Baa Baa was kept for ulterior reasons but then was relieved to see she was a pet and not a lover.
Tim Stanley writing at the TelegraphUK:
…When a man’s best friend is his sheep, he’ll do anything to keep her. And rightly so.
About eleven years ago a mechanic called Vu Ho, of Springvale, Australia, decided to buy himself a pet. He made the unusual choice of a sheep, which he named Baa. Baa is now thought to be 16 and she and Vu are Best Friends Forever. He takes her around town in his BMW (he puts the backseat down so that she can fit in snuggly), she nuzzles him and he pets and feeds her. There’s no hint of romance; Baa’s dignity has never been compromised. It’s all very wholesome and very Australian.
A couple of years ago a ranger told Vu that he had to get rid of Baa. Why? Because her presence in his house violated a Greater Dandenong council by-law stating that livestock cannot be kept on land of less than half a hectare without a permit. “Fine”, said Vu, “I’ll get a permit.” To his shock, he was refused one – because some bigots in city hall don’t regard a sheep as an acceptable pet. Discovering that state law took his side over the council, Vu decided to get legal and took his case to court. Incredibly – rather than turning a blind eye – the council decided to lawyer up too and take Vu on. Obstinacy squared off against obstinacy until the case went to the state’s highest courts at an estimated cost of $150,000. Refused legal aid, Vu defended himself and lost. But he’s still not giving up. “God is on my side,” he told reporters. And he’s almost certainly right.
For this story is an example of two things: a) the petty authoritarianism of government and b) the brilliant bloody-mindedness of some of its victims. Vu, by the way, is used to fighting tyrants. When the council chose to make an example of him it probably didn’t realise it was taking on one of Vietnam’s toughest dissidents. In the 1970s, Vu tried to start his own democratic revolution in communist Vietnam, by printing forged documents for the resistance out of a secret headquarters that he set up opposite Saigon police quarters. His cojones only got bigger over time. Vu built himself a gun that looked like a pen and taught himself how to make explosives. The commies caught him and threw him in prison where he was sentenced to four years in Hell. He convinced the guards to put him in charge of security (how?!) and slipped away into the jungle on New Year’s Eve. Vu ran through the jungle for two hours with a broken foot, took a truck to Saigon, laid low, fashioned a boat, carried the vessel along the coast to avoid the police and then sailed to Thailand. From there he gained refugee status in Australia, where he’s lived since 1981 as a quiet, unassuming mechanic with broken English. In short, Vu Ho is a freaking legend.
It’s extraordinary that, having fled a totalitarian nightmare for the supposedly free world, Vu now finds himself once again pitched against an Orwellian bureaucracy in his defence of his right to drive a sheep around in his BMW. But it’s probably his experience of authoritarianism in Vietnam that has made such a determined defender of freedom in Australia. He doesn’t care about the costs (“I risked my life to get here [to Australia] so it’s nothing to lose money.”) and he’s happy to go it alone (his brilliant 115 page submission was so good that the judge said, “I haven’t seen such well-directed research by an unrepresented litigant … for some time.”) Vu is a classic example of an individual who has spent his life resisting the prejudices and bullying of others. He’s a one-man Tea Party. The government will take his sheep from his cold dead hands……..
The most contentious part of France’s three-strikes law has been the suspension clause: one (alleged) piracy offense too many and you’re cut off from the internet. The country is backing off from that aggressive policy with a new decree banning di…
James Cameron was recently sued yet again for Avatar, the latest in a long line of plagiarism accusations against the director stretching back to Terminator. But is Cameron a serial plagiarist, or just a popular target for copyright lawsuits?Read more….
The jury could see their physical similarities, but also heard of their genetic closeness as well, making for a case that might forge legal precedence on the issue of genetic identity
Today’s news speaks to some fairly basic constitutional ideas:
The Harper government said Monday it will not include Governor-General David Johnston in any future policy discussions with First Nations, further clouding its battle of wills with aboriginal leaders. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said Monday Stephen Harper will meet with Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief Shawn Atleo “in the coming weeks,” and has no plans to abide aboriginal leaders’ demands for a summit Thursday. “[First Nations people] are very insistent on having the Governor-General there, but the Governor-General says this is a policy matter with the government and that [he] shouldn’t be there,” Andrew MacDougall said. “We agree with that.”
This is interesting stuff. What is a Prime Minister and what is a Governor-General? In his book Federalism and the Constitution of Canada, David E. Smith uses the proper name of one institution the Prime Minister leads: the Crown-in-Parliament. Even though the Glorious Revolution of 1688 changed a lot of the constitutional principles it did not great autonomous spheres of power so much as rearrange the existing ones. As a result, Smith can write:
Sovereignty in a constitutional monarchy rests in the Crown-in-Parliament (or, legislature), except where the subject is the reserve powers (dissolution of Parliament, for instance) that remain as a matter of prerogative in the hands of the Crown’s representative.
So, unless the topic is one reserved to the G.-G., it is a matter of Parliamentary oversight. In section 91 of our Constitution of 1867, part of the division of powers discussion it states “the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say,” and then lists a number of topics. It is generally taken that the list serves to distinguish between the Federal level and the Provincial one but the assignment of the classes of subjects is to the Parliament of Canada. Item number 24 in the list is “Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians.” Later in the constitution it states under the heading “Treaty Obligations” that:
The Parliament and Government of Canada shall have all Powers necessary or proper for performing the Obligations of Canada or of any Province thereof, as Part of the British Empire, towards Foreign Countries, arising under Treaties between the Empire and such Foreign Countries.
Interestingly, as Smith points out in his book, this only means that the Feds have the power to conclude treaties not to implement them. Where the subject matter is not in the list of subject matters assigned to the Federal Parliament, it is up to the Provinces to implement. And, in any event, the power relates to foreign countries. What was the nature of the “in Empire” domestic treaty that the British and then Canada happily signed from East to West as European Canada asserted itself? Mr. Harper is asserting that whatever it is, it is something that section 91(24) assigns to Parliament and he is the head of Parliament. Clearly an argument available to be made. Because he, like the G.-G. represents the Crown in his own way, too.
Rarely do I write a piece that remains on The Star’s internal greatest web hits list three days running. In fact, until last Sunday’s feature on Rape Culture, I don’t think it’s ever happened. This is a testament, I think, to how it resonates with so m…
This just in: A Toronto judge has struck down Canada’s prostitution laws, effectively decriminalizing activities associated with the world’s oldest trade. “These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Justice Susan Himel of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice said in Tuesday’s landmark decision. The long-awaited judgment had been on reserve for nearly…
This week, I am writing a series of posts on the general themes of religion, morality, and politics. In today’s post, I will argue that Canada should adopt a constitutional separation of church and state. First, I will elaborate a bit on what the separation of church and state means. Second, I will explain why the Constitution of Canada does not include the separation of church and state. Finally, I will briefly outline my reasons for supporting a constitutional amendment which would establish it. As a reminder, I am writing religion-themed posts this week in support of the “A” Week on Facebook campaign.
The separation of church and state is the doctrine that the governmental and political institutions of a state should be kept separate and independent from religious institutions. It can be seen as consisting of two central components: freedom of religion and secular government (or, the lack of an intertwining of state and religious institutions). This dual aspect of the separation doctrine is well-expressed in the first amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The disjunctive sentence structure implies two distinct principles: first, that there shall be no state-established religion; second, there shall be freedom of religion.
Freedom of religion alone is an insufficient condition for the separation of church and state. There must also be what Thomas Jefferson described as “a wall of separation between church and state” meaning that the structure, finances, and legal status of religious institutions must be wholly seperate from those of government institutions.
The separation of church and state must also be distinguished from the principle of religious equality. James Madison, who wrote the first amendment, argued that all forms of state support for religious institutions are wrong, regardless of whether that support was selective (“discriminatory”) or general (“nondiscriminatory”). He believed that even if the state were even-handed in dispensing governmental benefits to the various religions, it would still be wrong of the government to compel citizens, as taxpayers, to finance religious institutions. Conversely, he felt there would always be a latent possibility that state-established religions could exert a pernicious and anti-democratic effect on the public policy-making of the state.
As we examine the constitution of Canada, we should bear in mind the dual nature of the separation of church and state.
According to section 2(a) the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadians enjoy the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion. Moreover, section 15 of the Charter ostensibly guaratees that laws should be applied equally to all, regardless of religion. However, as I stated above, freedom of religion is only one side of the coin when it comes to the separation of church and state – there must also be structural and financial independence between politcal/governmental institutions and religious institutions. It is also worth noting that the Charter does trump other parts of the constitution. As we will see, this means that the Charter does not and cannot nullify constitutional provisions which explicitly disregard religious freedom and equality of the law.
The preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly known as the British North America Act) expresses the idea that the Dominion of Canada shall have “a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom”. Constitutional jurisprudence confirms that the effect of this section is to import the principles of the United Kingdom’s constitution (as it was in 1867) into Canada’s constitutional framework. This includes both written constitional instruments and unwritten constitutional conventions. This turns out to be extremely significant to the discussion of separation of church and state in Canada.
In 1867 (and still to this day), the United Kingdom had an official state religion: the Church of England. Formed in the 16th century when King Henry VIII was denied an annulment of his marriage by Pope Clement VII, the Church of England is constitutionally entrenched as the official state religion of the United Kingdom. The King or Queen holds the title of Supreme Head of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith; the monarch sits as both head of state and head of the official state religion. As a result of the preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867, Canada inherited the Church of England as a state-established church and official religion. Just as in the case of the United Kingdom, our head of state is also the head of our official state religion. Because the Charter does not take precedence over other parts of the constitutional, the provisions regarding freedom of religion and equality do not affect the Church of England’s status as an official state religion in Canada.
As if this weren’t bad enough, Canada’s constitution also requires the government to directly fund religious institutions through tax revenue. For example, section 93(2) of the Constitution Act, 1867 establishes the right to separate, publicly-fundeed Catholic schools in both Ontario and Québec. This is why Catholic education continues to be 100% taxpayer funded in both provinces to this day. The combination of this constitutional provision and the Charter is that the government is both required to fund Catholic education and (arguably) prohibited from funding any other form of religious education. In this sense, religious discrimination is required by the Canadian constitution.
In both cases (our state-established religion and financial interdependence with the Catholic church), Canada fails to meet to meet one of the required conditions of a constitutional separation of chuch and state. The apparatus and finances of the state are intermingled with those of the Church of England and the Catholic Church. Both of these things would be manifestly unconstitutional in a country such as the United States which, on this particular issue, is centuries more enlightened than Canada.
It is time for Canada to step into the 18th century and adopt a constitutional separation of church and state. The status quo is untenable: non-Catholics are required as taxpayers to subsidize Catholic religious institutions and to pay for the Catholic church to promulgate its teachings. While I take no particular issue with the existence of Catholic schools, I find it unconscionable and an affront to human equality that such school should be paid for by taxpayers in a liberal democracy.
Because the status of the Church of England and the mandatory funding of Catholic schools are entrenched in the constitution of Canada, these things can only be altered by way of a constitutional amendment. I would propose an amendment striking out s. 93(2) of the Constitution Act, 1867 (and a couple other offending provisions), adding a clause to the Charter prohibiting the establishment of a state religion, and an additional section explicitly revoking the constitutional status of the Church of England in Canada. This would result in either the privatization of Catholic schools in Ontario and Québec or their amalgamation into the secular public school system.