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ONCA questions Doré-Loyola framework on eve of TWU’s SCC hearing

Is it “antithetical” to the “Charter value” of “inclusivity” to allow a child to be excused from a public school classroom while sexual orientation or gender is being discussed? In this article I review a case that raises this very question. Many lawyers today are concerned that “Charter values” are being used as a sword for state-enforced moral conformity, when ...

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Doré’s Demise?

In my last post on Double Aspect, I wrote about the religious freedom issues addressed in the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Ktunaxa Nation v British Columbia (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations), 2017 SCC 54, which concerned the constitutionality of a ministerial decision to allow development on land considered sacred by an Aboriginal nation. I want to return to Ktunaxa, ...

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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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A Wise Decision in Retrospect

The Ontario Court of Appeal handed down two seminal decisions last month. In the companion cases, Cobb v. Long Estate and El-Khodr v. Lackie,  the Court of Appeal (hopefully) settled the doctrine in a number of areas relevant to motor vehicle accident (“MVA”) litigation. Cobb and El-Khodr were appeals arising from the assessment damages, prejudgment interest, and costs in the context ...

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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 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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The Courts Have No Jurisdiction to Review “Church Discipline”

Can a matter of church discipline be appealed from a church to a court? The question has made its way up to the Supreme Court of Canada in Wall v Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It may surprise you that it was answered in the affirmative by the chambers judge, Justice Wilson, and by a majority ...

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