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The Myth of Sovereign Provincial Legislatures: Canada’s Federal Crown Beyond Provincial Control

Following the adoption of the British North America Act 1867, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (the “Privy Council”) went to great pains to give full effect to the written text of the Canadian Constitution. In doing so, it emphasized the sovereignty of the federal and provincial orders of government. While the Supreme Court of Canada (the “Supreme Court”) ...

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Lawless Society of Upper Canada

The Law Society of Upper Canada (soon to be renamed something less historic), prepares to require its members ― of whom I am one ― to supply it with individual Statement[s] of Principles that acknowledge[] [our] obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in [our] behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public. Bruce Pardy has written an ...

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The Supreme Court Must Choose Principle Over Politicization

Maxime St-Hilaire is a Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Sherbrooke. The following article is Professor St. Hilaire’s response to the question asked by the organizing committee of the Supreme Court of Canada Symposium: “In your opinion, what is the most important challenge facing the Supreme Court of Canada in the coming decades, and might it meet this ...

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A Province Cannot Shut Down anti-Abortion Expression

This summer, the Ontario government conducted consultations regarding its plan to enact “safe access zones legislation” (SAZL) modeled on British Columbia’s. I’ll give a brief background on B.C.’s law before diving into a division of powers argument against enacting such a law in Ontario. In short, I will argue that just as a province cannot enact a penal prohibition on ...

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The Rule Against Violence

The Court of Appeal for Ontario recently delivered a noteworthy decision regarding the scope and limits of the constitutional protection for freedom of expression, Bracken v Town of Fort Erie, 2017 ONCA 668. The decision, written by Justice Miller for a unanimous court, breaks no new ground, but contains clear and cogent reminders of two elementary principles that, sadly, may ...

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Courts, Legislatures, and the Illusion of “Dialogue”

I.     WHAT IS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT? It has been said that Constitutions are a “mirror reflecting the national soul”[1].  While these comments were made before the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) came into effect, there is no reason to believe that the Charter, which focusses on a guaranteed set of civil liberties (Charter rights), should be any less ...

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The Legal Case Against the Khadr Settlement

Was the Government of Canada’s decision to settle with Omar Khadr for $10.5 million a pragmatic choice that saved the taxpayers millions in the long run? This is certainly what the government and some commentators would have us believe. If true, this would provide a sensible justification for the settlement. A multi-million dollar payout to an individual who previously participated ...

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The Courts are not Supreme Arbiters of Morality

In a post over at Slate, Omar Ha-Redye sets out what his title describes as “A Judicial Vision of Canada at 150 and Beyond“. The post is a rather rambling one, but insofar as I understand its overall purpose, it is meant to highlight the centrality of the Supreme Court to our constitutional framework, as illustrated in particular by the ...

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A Respectful Dissent from the Khadr Consensus

The case of Omar Khadr gives scholars a rare opportunity to question the fundamentals of public law damages. Such damages are notoriously difficult to quantify. As Lord Shaw once put it, “the restoration by way of compensation is therefore accomplished to a large extent by the exercise of a sound imagination and the practice of a broad axe.” This is ...

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