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Justice Abella is Wrong to Prioritize Human Rights Over the Separation of Powers

In a recent commencement address at Brandeis University, Justice Rosalie Abella of the Supreme Court took a stab at President Donald Trump. Decrying “narcissistic populism,” Justice Abella argued that a “shocking disrespect for the borders between power and its independent adjudicators like the press and the courts” defines the modern era.  This isn’t her first foray into political terrain. Last year, after receiving ...

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The Notwithstanding Clause is no Longer the Nuclear Option

Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – better known as the “notwithstanding clause” – is one of the most controversial parts of the Canadian constitution. Despite being an integral part of the formation of the Charter, commentators such as Andrew Coyne have suggested that the provision is “dead letter” or “taboo”. But on Monday, Saskatchewan Premier ...

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The Perils of the Purposive Approach

The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly said that, in interpreting statutes, courts should undertake a unified textual, contextual and purposive approach. Under this approach “the words of an Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention ...

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There are Problems with Personal Injury Law, but Bill 103 is not the Answer

Personal injury litigation has come under the microscope over the last few months. Numerous articles have been written criticizing the conduct of personal injury lawyers, specifically with regard to advertising and fees. Most recently, MPP Michael Colle has put forward a private member’s bill that would require every personal injury advertisement to be approved by the Law Society, cap contingency ...

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Judge Gorsuch’s Consequential Views on Administrative Law

Many of Donald Trump’s actions during his first weeks as President have understandably unsettled much of the world. However, there are already hopeful signs that they will be resisted by some combination of public protest, the courts, and/or, at the very least, his successor. So the recent nomination of 49-year old Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United ...

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Still Playing Favourites: Some Objections to the Court Challenges Program

The federal government has officially announced that it is bringing back the Court Challenges  Program, which provides money to individuals or groups who pursue litigation in which they assert certain constitutional or quasi-constitutional rights. In comparison with past iterations, the program will subsidize claims based on a broader range of rights ― not only equality and language rights under the ...

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Garland Gets a Lump of Coal; So Does the Perception of SCOTUS

The United States presidential election of 2016 will be analyzed for decades if not centuries. Most of that analysis will concentrate on the two candidates, and their respective campaigns and supporters. But as far I am concerned, one of the greatest tragedies of the election was entirely attributable to the Republican-controlled Senate. I am speaking, of course, of the Chamber’s ...

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Parliament Should be Consulted on Military Deployments

It’s always easy to seek permission when you know you’ll get it. While not required to do so, the Liberals asked the House of Commons to vote recently on whether to ratify the Paris Agreement, an international climate change accord. In contrast, they do not intend to ask Parliament to approve their plan to send 600 soldiers to Africa on a ...

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The Correct Approach to Contractual Interpretation

The Supreme Court of Canada’s freshly released Ledcor Construction Ltd. v. Northbridge Indemnity Insurance Co. provides welcome clarification to contract law generally and insurance law specifically. By holding that appellate courts are to review interpretation of “standard form” contracts on a correctness standard, the court protects the rule of law. The decision should also promote access to civil justice. Background ...

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Wilson v. AECL: A Missed Opportunity to Protect the Rule of Law in Administrative Law

This summer saw a sharply divided Supreme Court of Canada on many points. The case of Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., 2016 SCC 29 illustrated this perhaps better than any other, with the Court issuing four separate opinions. Many issues are raised in the case, from whether certain non-unionized federally regulated employees can be dismissed without cause to the number ...

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