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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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Has the Supreme Court Moved Beyond the “Living Tree”?

One of the first things law students are taught is that our Constitution is a “living tree.”  The Supreme Court has said that the living tree doctrine, which holds that our Constitution must be capable of evolving to meet new social realities, is “one of the most fundamental principles of Canadian constitutional interpretation” (See Reference Re Same Sex Marriage, at ...

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The Dark Art of Deference: Dubious Assumptions of Expertise on Home Statute Interpretation

The 10th anniversary of Dunsmuir presents an opportunity to revisit perhaps its most controversial aspect: the seeds it planted for a presumption of deference on home statute interpretation. As Professor Daly notes, the presumption is a “black hole” which engulfs questions of statutory interpretation in administrative law: Paul Daly, “Unreasonable Interpretations of Law” in Judicial Deference to Administrative Tribunals in ...

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Reflections on Charter Values: A Call for Judicial Humility

The Honourable Peter D. Lauwers is a Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. This speech was delivered to the Runnymede Society in Toronto on January 12, 2018. It develops further some thoughts on Charter values in my article, “Liberalism and the Challenge of Religious Diversity, (2017), 79 S.C.L.R. (2d) 29. The footnotes have not been edited or completed. ...

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Why ARL Opposes a Duty to Consult in the Legislative Process

On January 15, 2018, lawyers for Advocates for the Rule of Law (“ARL”) will be appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada to make submissions in a case that will consider whether there is a justiciable duty to consult potentially affected Aboriginal groups in the legislative process.  This is the first Supreme Court of Canada case that ARL has intervened ...

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Getting Back to the Basics of Judicial Review

One could scarcely find an area of law so muddied as administrative law. In a recent blog post on Double Aspect,  Leonid Sirota argues (omitting some far more colourful language) that our courts continue to struggle with reconciling the basic concepts of parliamentary supremacy and the rule of law, which are said to be in conflict with one another. The ...

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Why the Appeal to Charter Values Denies the Rule of Law

Barry W. Bussey is Director Legal Affairs, Canadian Council of Christian Charities.  He blogs at: lawandreligion.org. The following is an excerpt of his article, “The Charter is Not a Blueprint for Moral Conformity,” (2017) 79 S.C.L.R.(2d) 367, 393-400   It may be trite to say that a liberal democracy must respect the rule of law.[1] Lord Bingham described the core ...

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Wagner C.J. is the Prudent Choice

Today’s elevation of Justice Richard Wagner to the position of Chief Justice is a welcome development. Justice Wagner’s collegiality and moderation will serve him well in his new role. His dissenting judgment in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour is an excellent example of understanding the judicial role vis-a-vis s. 2(d) of the Charter. It is worth adding that the alleged “convention” ...

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On the Nomination of Justice Martin to the Supreme Court

Advocates for the Rule of Law congratulates Justice Sheilah L. Martin of the Alberta Court of Appeal on her nomination to the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Martin’s academic and professional credentials to serve on the Supreme Court — including being a law dean, law professor, commercial litigator, pro bono constitutional lawyer, and very active member of the profession generally — ...

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