Category Archives: Constitutional Law

Episode 33: Courage – Legal Decisions and Social Change

Welcome et bienvenue to LegalEase: a monthly Montreal-based and produced radio show on 90.3 FM CKUT – a broadcast about law, cast broadly. Le collectif LegalEase est un groupe d’étudiants et étudiantes en droit de la communauté montréalaise. This month the program is entitled, “Legal Decisions and Social Change.”

Listen to the Episode Here

“Sometimes law precipitates social change, sometimes its the other way around.” This month Garrett Zehr hosts a fine assortment of pieces: discrimination and the law, Insite and its impact across Canada, as well as an opening segment by Stephany Laperriere on law and social movements. What are the contradictions and strengths of legal decisions and social change? LegalEase investigates.

en greve!

LegalEase on 90.3 FM is a radio program broadcast every second Friday of the month at 11am EST from Montreal, Quebec. Originally founded by the McGill Legal Information Clinic in 1989, LegalEase is now run by a collective of progressive of law students from McGill University. Our weekly radio show deals with legal topics of interest to the community, with the intention of making the law both accessible and engaging. Tune into our show, follow us on Twitter @LegalEaseCkut, email legalease[at]ckut.ca or check our podcast library for past programming.

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Episode 32 – Police, Protest and Peaceful Assembly

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 groupe d’étudiants et étudiantes en droit de la communauté montréalaise. This month the program is entitled, “Police, Protest, and Peaceful Assembly.”

Listen to the Episode Here

This month LegalEase non-violently confronts the topic of Police, Protest and Peaceful Assembly. Back-drop – wide-spread protests in Quebec on tuition issues as well as the annual march against Police Brutality. Who polices the police? What does protest entail? We have an all-star line-up to discuss the pithy issues – Natalie DesRosiers, David Eby, Fo Niemi, Judy Rebick, Alex Hundert and others. The episode will bring the controversy to the table, tackling G20, Occupy and other examples of assembly from the past decade.

The G20 Sound Cannon

LegalEase on 90.3 FM is a radio program broadcast every second Friday of the month at 11am EST from Montreal, Quebec. Originally founded by the McGill Legal Information Clinic in 1989, LegalEase is now run by a collective of progressive of law students from McGill University. Our weekly radio show deals with legal topics of interest to the community, with the intention of making the law both accessible and engaging. Tune into our show, follow us on Twitter @LegalEaseCkut, email legalease[at]ckut.ca or check our podcast library for past programming.

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…

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 https://legaleaseckut.wordpress.com

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: https://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

The Representation in Representative Democracy

Electoral Ridings in Montreal

Some hullaballoo about new seats for Ontario, BC and Alberta. The NDP and Quebec oppose the change and root their opposition in this decision: Reference re Prov. Electoral Boundaries (Sask.), [1991] 2 SCR 158 Read below for a backgrounder.

“The Commons has 308 seats at present. Our Constitution guarantees 75 of those to Quebec. That’s 24.4% of the seats for a province with 23.2% of the national population. (Ontario, by comparison has just 34.4% of the seats despite being home to 38.8% of Canadians.) Even if the federal Tories move ahead with plans to add 30 seats to the Commons – 18 in Ontario, seven in British Columbia and five in Alberta – Quebec will still have 22.2%.

After adding the planned new seats, Quebec would still come as close as any province but B.C. to having the proper number of seats for its population. If more seats are added, Quebec’s representation will be one percentage point below its share of the national population, Alberta’s will be 1.2 percentage points under and Ontario’s will be 2.1 points under. Only B.C., which would then be 0.6 percentage points under-represented, would be more equitably treated than Quebec. (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and all the Atlantic provinces already are over-represented, and would remain so under the new plan.)

But in 1991, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that electoral districts in Canada do not have to honour the one-person, one-vote standard. (Well, actually, the Supreme Court said the oneperson, one-vote rule was sacred in a democracy, but then listed so many allowable exemptions as to make the rule meaningless.)

The majority on the court explained that “relative parity of voting power is a prime condition of effective representation.” The judges then added that “deviations from absolute voter parity, however, may be justified on the grounds of practical impossibility or the provision of more effective representation. Factors such as geography, community history, community interests and minority representation may need to be taken into account to ensure that our legislative assemblies effectively represent the diversity of our social mosaic.” Other than all those exceptions, though, “dilution of one citizen’s vote, as compared with another’s, should not be countenanced.”” – Thomas Mulcair’s numbers game, Lorne Gunter, National Post

Episode 24: Racial Discrimination and Profiling in Quebec

Listen to the Episode Here: http://goo.gl/lmKl3

Do you find this image problematic?

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, “Racial Discrimination and Profiling in Quebec.” Listen to it here.

Jesse Gutman sits down with Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR). The discussion focuses on the Quebec Human Rights Commission’s 2011 Report: RACIAL PROFILING AND SYSTEMIC DISCRIMINATION OF RACIALIZED YOUTH: REPORT OF THE CONSULTATION ON RACIAL PROFILING AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.

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 https://legaleaseckut.wordpress.com