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Parliament Can Still Criminalize Assisted Suicide

Earlier this year, Canada’s Supreme Court struck down the Criminal Code prohibition on assisted suicide in its landmark Carter v. Canada ruling. Parliament’s only option now, many believe, is either to implement a circumscribed “right to die” or invoke the Charter’s notwithstanding clause. But the actual legal reasoning underlying the Court’s invalidation of the law makes possible another path. The ...

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Banning “Hate Speech” is Beyond Provincial Power

Hate speech is back in the news. The Quebec government has recently tabled Bill 59, which, among other things, would prohibit “hate speech” – a term that is not defined. Anyone who “engages in or disseminates” hate speech is liable to be fined up to $10,000 for the first utterance and $20,000 for the second.   The Bill would also ...

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In Defence of Constitutional Originalism

The Globe and Mail recently reported that Bradley Miller, a former Western University law professor and a judge on Ontario’s Superior Court, had been appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The Globe’s report drew attention to the following: 1. Miller has criticized gay marriage; 2. Miller has only six months’ experience as a judge; and 3. Miller is an ...

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The True American Import to Canada is the Living Tree, not Originalism

Old Supreme Court

Constitutional originalism, which holds that the meaning of the Constitution remains constant with the passage of time, does not enjoy a great deal of support Canada. It is dismissed as an American phenomenon, and a distastefully conservative one at that. The Canadian Constitution, we are told, is a “living tree” and it is therefore the responsibility of judges to rediscover ...

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Reaffirming Magna Carta

Magna Carta turned 800 this week. After eight centuries, it remains the foundational text of Anglo-American law. Borne out of a bitter dispute between King John and his aggrieved barons in the spring of 1215, the “Great Charter” scarcely resembles any modern human rights instrument. It did not grant freedom of expression and religion, or even life, liberty and the ...

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Free Expression Must Endure

This past week saw an unspeakable tragedy unfold in the Paris office of a satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, when gunmen opened fire, killing twelve and wounding many more. The apparent motivation for the killings was Charlie Hebdo’s publication of an image of the prophet Mohammad. The artistic depiction of Mohammad is forbidden in many sects of Islam and is offensive ...

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John A. Macdonald’s 200th Birthday

John A. Macdonald, who was born on January 11, 1815, was far more than Canada’s first Prime Minister. He was one of the principal architects of Confederation.  The peace, security and prosperity that Canada continues to enjoy with each passing generation would not have been possible without the hard work and vision of Sir John A. and others in crafting a stable ...

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Canada’s Blasphemy Law Should Be Repealed

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, freedom of expression is coming back to centre stage. This week, the National Post reported that Humanist Canada and Centre for Inquiry- two organizations dedicated to promoting secularism – will ask the Department of Justice to abolish section 296 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits “blasphemous libel.” Section 296 was enacted well ...

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The Vital Importance of Due Process

What do Hewlett Packard and MP Scott Andrews have in common? As Conrad Black writes in today’s National Post, both are being denied their right to due process.  In Lord Black’s opinion, the penalizing of Canadian corporations for their alleged (but unproven) conduct in other countries and the allegations of sexual harassment being levelled against MPs are all part of the ...

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Why Federalism Still Matters

Old Supreme Court

The recent Supreme Court decision in Bank of Montreal v. Marcotte, 2014 SCC 55, is a helpful clarification of the applicability of consumer protection legislation and, more generally, the current principles regulating the separation of federal and provincial powers in Canada. At issue in Marcotte were charges imposed on credit card customers for purchases in foreign currency. Such purchases are ...

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