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Our Pythic Judges: SNC-Lavalin

In Ancient Greece, travelers from far and wide descended upon the Oracle at Delphi. Known collectively as the Pythia, these priestesses or women of Delphi, over generations, provided advice and counsel to anyone wishing to seek it. The Pythia were thought to channel the god Apollo. As the mythology of the Pythia grew, with kings, leaders, and leaders of armies ...

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The Problem with Prosecutorial Independence in Canada

As has been widely reported, the PMO has been embroiled in a scandal over the last two weeks for allegedly exerting pressure upon its former Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, regarding the prosecution of SNC Lavalin.  Precisely what occurred remains unknown, and contrary to many social media commentators, we are not going to give our opinion on what may or may ...

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Substantive Equality: Some People are More Equal Than Others

Double Aspect, the law blog of Leonid Sirota and Mark Mancini, recently hosted The 12 Days of Christmas, in which contributors offered their picks for the five worst public law Supreme Court of Canada decisions between 1967 and 2017. My list included Andrews, which I criticized for starting the mess that the Supreme Court has made of section 15(1) of ...

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In Defence of Substantive Equality

In a guest post on the Double Aspect Blog over the Christmas break, Professor Bruce Pardy (Queen’s Law) picked the Supreme Court’s decision in Andrews as one of the worst decisions since 1967. While I believe Professor Pardy offered some important criticisms of the Court in his post, I must respectfully disagree with his attack on the Andrews decision and ...

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Unearthing Canadian Originalism: Reflections on my Conversation with Justice Stratas

Earlier this month, I had the true privilege of taking part in a discussion with Justice David Stratas of the Federal Court of Appeal, who is one of Canada’s most prominent jurists, on the subject of statutory and constitutional interpretation. The conversation was part of the Runnymede Society’s annual Law & Freedom Conference. Justice Stratas and I covered a lot ...

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The “Cultural Appropriation” Criticism: Lousy Analogy and Censorship in Disguise

On October 23, alongside my colleagues Konstantia Koutouki of University of Montreal, as well as Safie Diallo and Alexandra Lorange, I partook in a discussion initiated by the McGill Runnymede Society, on the criticism of cultural appropriation in the arts and literature. In preparation for this discussion, I discovered more problems with the notion of cultural appropriation than time would ...

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Understanding Unconstitutionality

The following is an excerpt from Mr. Peltomaa’s recently published text, Understanding Unconstitutionality: How a Country Lost its Way.    Courts are often said to “strike down” laws that conflict with the Constitution. An image is evoked of black-robed judges hurling bolts of lightning in Zeus-like manner, thereby destroying the legal efficacy of unconstitutional laws and expunging them from the ...

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Protecting Rights: A Common Responsibility

“Are great public problems best addressed through institutions designed to apply the explicit technical knowledge of experts or by those designed to channel the implicit social knowledge of the community?”[1] Since the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada has experienced a remarkable shift from the latter forum to the former—namely, from legislature to courtroom.[2] Not only has ...

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Constitutionalism from the Cave

The imbroglio with the Ontario legislature’s enactment of Bill 5 to restructure the Toronto City Council a couple of months before an upcoming election, the Superior Court’s declaration of that legislation unconstitutional, the threatened invocation of the “notwithstanding clause” to override that declaration, and the Court of Appeal’s restoration of what little sanity could still be restored by reversing the Superior ...

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Political Costs as Control on the Notwithstanding Clause

The notwithstanding clause saga brought about by the Ford government is difficult for those born and bred on Supreme Court precedent. Law students are presented with an idea of the courts as benevolent actors of the public trust, hemming in cavalier legislatures acting on the passions of citizens. The saga, though, forces us to reckon with another sort of control ...

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