HomeArticles (page 7)

Articles

The Case for a Constrained Approach to Section 7

This article will appear in the upcoming edition of Law Matters, a publication of the Canadian Bar Association Introduction The consensus in the academic community when it comes to interpreting the Charter is that more is better. There is little debate that the Charter is a “living tree,” such that its meaning must “evolve” over time so that it “accommodates ...

Read More »

Constitutional Originalism is a Canadian Staple

Few legal concepts have been so little understood yet so much vilified as originalism has been in Canada. Adam Dodek has said that “originalism” is a “dirty word” on this side of the Canada-U.S. border. Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Canadian jurists, including former Supreme Court judges, took to the media to remind us that originalism has no ...

Read More »

The Need for Doctrine: Scalian Originalism and Canadian Purposivism

A legal lion passed away recently. One might argue that the death of Justice Antonin Scalia means much more for the American legal audience than the Canadian one. After all, Scalia’s death tossed the Supreme Court of the United States into the centre of an already contentious election season and brought to the forefront the divisively partisan tendencies of the ...

Read More »

Permanent Problems

The law’s ideals and problems have not changed too much in 400 years I have only now read Francis Bacon’s essay “Of Judicature.” Bacon seems not to enjoy anything like the reputation of his rival Coke, in the law schools anyway ― I suspect that they haven’t heard much of Coke in the science faculties, where Bacon is regarded as ...

Read More »

Rebalancing the Sexual Assault Pendulum

The Ghomeshi trial has exposed a reality of the criminal justice system which is the bane of every criminal defence lawyer’s existence. In most ‘domestics’ — as allegations of sexual or physical assault between family members or romantic partners are called in the system—the current modus operandi of police and Crown prosecutors is “zero tolerance.” This means, practically, that police ...

Read More »

Reviving Originalism in Canada

Originalism posits that the content of a constitution is determined partly by the intentions and purposes of its founders and the understandings of the founding generation. This essay calls for the (re)introduction of originalism, which has an important place in American politics, legal academia, and courts,1 into Canadian constitutional law. First, I explain the importance of the methodology of constitutional ...

Read More »

Sorry, Electoral Reform is Constitutional

Is the Liberal plan to reform the electoral system unconstitutional? Two recent pieces published in the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star suggest the answer is yes. The articles are well-written by knowledgeable individuals (respectively, a law professor and two former law clerks), but in my view their reasoning is flawed. Both pieces cite the 2014 Senate Reform Reference, in ...

Read More »

Justice Stratas on the Decline of Doctrine

Justice David Stratas of the Federal Court of Appeal gave an excellent talk at the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference on January 8, 2016. The title of his keynote address was “Reflections on the Decline of Legal Doctrine.” It can be viewed here. The address focussed primarily on constitutional and administrative law. In Justice Stratas’s view, judges and academics ...

Read More »

Justice Rothstein Casts Doubt on the Living Tree

I recently learned that, back in October, recently-retired Justice Marshall Rothstein gave a speech at the University of Saskatchewan, in which he criticized the “living tree” doctrine, which holds that the meaning of the Constitution may evolve over time – in most cases, beyond what the text can reasonably bear.  The original living tree metaphor comes from the Privy Council’s decision in Edwards ...

Read More »

The People Need Their Say on Electoral Reform

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the recent campaign that 2015 would be the last federal election to employ “first-past-the-post.” This is the electoral system familiar to  Canadians, in which the candidate who wins a plurality of votes in each riding is elected to Parliament. In its place we would see the introduction of a more “representative” system, most likely ...

Read More »