Monthly Archives: October 2011

Canada’s Most Astonishing Courthouses

Old Supreme Court of Canada

At work today, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Old City Hall. So I decided to write a quick bit on Courthouses in Canada. There are at least 261 buildings in Canada designated heritage sites, so we have some ground to cover! We welcome additions, so please, if I overlook a magnificent / thoughtful building, please let me know.

Note: this post will double up as a link directly to the Court information of the particular Courthouse in question. That way, in case you randomly found this page in search of ‘useful’ information, all birds will have been killed.

1. Old City Hall, Ontario Court of Justice, Toronto, Ontario

Old City Hall, Toronto Archives, 1914

Even before being one of Canada’s most beautiful courthouses, Old City Hall makes the list as one of Canada’s most astonishing buildings. This court does mostly criminal – provincial and federal. Inside, you will find murals, stone work, stained glass, and remnants of its former self, the seat of municipal government for the City of Toronto. Absolutely beautiful, it is worth a stroll. This, coupled with the increasingly absurd treatment of criminals provides a fascinating vista into Canadian society. If ever in Toronto and so inclined, consult this online tour of the building to add nuance to a visit.

In the 2000s, CBC produced a show featuring a new criminal defence lawyer situated within Old City Hall. This is Wonderland ran for four seasons and, even though it is a comedy, gives a pretty accurate depiction of the every-day happenings at OCH.

2. Battleford Courthouse, Battleford, Saskatchewan

Welcome to Battleford

Unveiled 1785 – Like an fully-grown, old tree. This building is over 200 years and is still still simmering. Described as ” Romanesque Revival-style exterior.” The wikipedia article gives me lots of useful information. This building was formerly a trading post for Hudson’s Bay, post for the RCMP, and perhaps was even the seat of government, when the bustling metropolis of Battlefield was made capital of the North West Territories from 1877 to 1883. Indeed, the site is linked with the ignominious Red River Rebellions and several comrades of Louis Riel were probably executed at this site. For Canada approved history, look here; for critical history, look here.

Aside from standing as one of Canada’s oldest Courthouses, this building represents a relationship between First Nations peoples in Canada and White settler society. Thus, we find this building within the registry of buildings of Heritage Canada.

Talking Shop at Battleford

3. More to come…

In Memoriam: Alexandra Dodger (1983-2011)

Alexandra Dodger


LegalEase is deeply saddened by the passing of recently graduated McGill Law student Alexandra Dodger (1983-2011). She had a major impact on the McGill community and beyond. Take a look at the Quid Novi memorial issue written by Professors and friends of Alex. Below you may find a youtube video which captures a speech made on behalf of Alex in the House of Commons. For newspaper articles, consult glowing reflections published in the Ottawa Citizen and Toronto Star.

LegalEase recommends you read some of Alex’s writing. You can check out work for the McGill Daily here, on international law published at Legal Frontiers here, and I encourage you to check out pages 5 and 22 of the November 2009 Quid Novi (McGill Law Publication).

Alexandra Dodger will be missed dearly.

Episode 26: Crimes

Welcome et bienvenue to LegalEase: a monthly Montreal-based and produced radio show on 90.3 FM CKUT. We broadcast law broadly. Le collectif LegalEase est un group des etudiants et etudiantes en droit de la communaute montrealaise. This month the program is entitled, “Crimes.” Listen to the Episode Here: http://goo.gl/wVnjX

This month’s show features a diverse set of programming on the topic of crime. New contributor Mark Phillips conducts an interview Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and how it relates to prisoners in the justice system. Garrett Zehr presents a piece on efforts to charge Bush administration officials with war crimes. Host Preeti Dhaliwal revisits some older content on Insite, in light of the new Supreme Court decision which recently came down on the subject. She also offers an update on the MUNACA strike. Finally, Jesse Gutman breaks down the jargon on the Conservative’s Omnibus Crime bill, the Safe Streets and Communities Act.

Tune in live every second Friday of every month from 11h00-12h00 on CKUT 90.3 FM in Montreal or listen on-line at http://www.ckut.ca. For more programming, check us out at http://legaleaseckut.wordpress.com

Excluding the Subject matter: Inquiring about the Missing Women Commission

Gone from The DTES, Gone from the Commission

Over the past several weeks, high profile actors have been pulling out of the B.C.’s Missing Women Comission of Inquiry, threatening its legitimacy. In recent days, BCCLA and Amnesty Canada have both withdrawn from the commission, citing a disparity of resources allocated to protecting police officers and government officials, while offering the marginalized women in question no legal counsel. Activist organizations, from whose efforts the commission was born, have decided to boycott the government effort and are organizing protests which will be led by the Coalition of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) and Feb 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee (WMMC). They have called the inquiry a “sham”.

The commission was initially intended to shed light on the hundreds of disappearances of women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The most notable case linked to this ongoing problem is that of Robert Pickton, former pig farmer and serial killer convicted of the second-degree murders of six women, though he may have had as many as 49 victims.

Investigation or Sham inquiry?

Ian Hanomansing interviewed several of the key players in this debate on CBC’s flagship radio program The Current. You can hear their conversation here. He interviews Shirley Bond, Harsah Walia, and Ernie Crey.

For more on the subject of Commissions of Inquiry more generally, please see this link provided by the Privy Council’s Office. Indeed, for references sake, the best work on the subject – Commissions of inquiry : praise or reappraise / editors, Allan Manson, David Mullan. Toronto : Irwin Law, 2003.

More on Commissions

Extra, Extra: Supreme Court has published Insite decision!

In case you haven’t heard, the Supreme Court has recently released their decision in the matter of Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44

PHS Community Services

LegalEase has previously covered this case in its earlier incarnations. Check out our coverage of this speech delivered by Hester Lessard: http://legaleaseckut.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/episode-20-mar-2011-downtown-eastside-vancouver/

For more in-depth ruminations on the subject, please refer to our friends at Pivot Legal in Vancouver: http://pivotlegal.org/pivot-points/blog/the-historic-insite-decision-in-a-nutshell#cdnpoli

Pivot Legal