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Yearly Archives: 2018

Deference and Delegation As Fickle Bedfellows

The administrative state, the supposed sword of progressives, is not necessarily so. In many countries, the administrative state was constituted on the urging of progressives to advance a social justice agenda. In the United States, progressive reformers during the New Deal era sought to make government a “prescriptive entity” designed to advance certain progressive goals. Executive orders reached a “heyday” during ...

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Canada’s Political Safeguards of Federalism: A Theory on Shaky Doctrinal Ground

When Canada abandoned its appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in constitutional matters, the Supreme Court of Canada began to slowly re-shape the boundaries of our federalism jurisprudence. In doing so, it expanded the federal Parliament’s powers and articulated a diminished view of the judicial role. Its case law developed a “cooperative, flexible federalism”[1] defined by “a ...

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Statutory Interpretation from the Stratasphere

Statutory interpretation presents problems of judicial subjectivity.[1] Though it is well-established that courts and advocates must look to the “text, context, and purpose” of a particular statutory provision to determine its meaning, little work has focused on what courts should do when purposes are stated at different levels of abstraction, or where the statute has multiple purposes which are seemingly ...

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Applying the law (or not) to “a child born of a three-way”

In a decision delivered in April 2018, a Newfoundland court recognized three legal parents (two fathers and one mother), based on the throuple’s sexual relationship  The case starts with a Newfoundland throuple—two men and a woman in a sexual relationship—who had a child in 2017.[1] The identity of the mother is clear, both biologically and in law. However, the men could ...

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Congratulations Mark Mancini!

Mark Mancini, ARL’s Vice President and a regular article contributor, was called to the Ontario Bar on June 25, 2018. Mark has been a member of ARL for a couple of years and has contributed greatly to its expansion during that time. Despite just finishing his articles as a clerk at the Federal Court, Mark is already established as a ...

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Is Deference Possible Here? The Groia Decision and Disguised Correctness

In Groia v Law Society of Upper Canada, 2018 SCC 27, decided last week, the Supreme Court of Canada once again fractured over the approach to take to the judicial review of an administrative decision ― and, once again, the majority chose correctness review disguised as reasonableness as its methodology. The substantive issue in Groia was whether the Law Society was entitled to ...

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The Wall of Separation

The Supreme Court of Canada released its judgement in the Wall appeal last week. It’s a victory for clarity in what had become quite a confused case.  The Court, overturning both courts below, ruled that judges do not have authority to review the decision of an unincorporated religious body to expel one of its members. Confusion at the lower courts Randy Wall, the ...

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A Conversation on Comeau

This informal discussion between myself, Asher Honickman and Professor Malcolm Lavoie is owed, first of all, to a mea culpa. It’s a transcription of a discussion that was meant to be a podcast, but due to a recording issue wasn’t captured correctly. Since Asher, Malcolm and I agreed the discussion was useful and worth preserving, we’ve decided to present it ...

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Welcome to the Lawless Zone: the Kawaskimhon Moot and the Refusal to Recognize State Law

Media coverage of the letter written by Quebec’s Minister of the Environment, in opposition to the new federal environmental assessment process, sparked a debate in Le Devoir on the value of Aboriginal traditional knowledge. On the one hand, a group of eight lawyers argued that “[s]ubordination of traditional knowledge to compatibility with scientific data amounts to establishing a hierarchy of ...

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Comeau is a Casualty of Confused Doctrine

The Supreme Court delivered a bizarre decision last week in R.v. Comeau. By way of background, Comeau concerned the interpretation of s.121 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which states: “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.” The issue for the Court was ...

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