Category Archives: Human Rights

Episode December 2014 – Making Lives Matter

Legalease is a monthly show on Montreal’s CKUT 90.3FM put together by a collective of law students. It is a broadcast about the law, cast broadly, looking at the law with a critical lens and featuring voices of people most affected by the law and those organizing against injustice.

In this month’s Legalease, we interview Meena Jaganath, attorney at the Community Justice Project in Miami, about the legal support happening in Ferguson leading up to and after the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Michael Brown; the delegation of CJP, Dream Defenders, Michael Brown’s parents, We Charge Genocide and other groups to the UN Committee Against Torture; about the growing #blacklivesmatter movement; and the role of community lawyering in the movement.

We hear from Claire Abraham, community organizer at Project Genesis in Cote-des-Neiges, Montreal about the organizing that they are doing in collaboration with housing organizations around the ridiculously long 21-month waiting time for tenants to get their complaint about housing conditions heard at the Rental Board. A Mexican student at McGill University tells us about the Montreal Mexican community’s demand to take Mexico off the safe-country list in Canada, in light of the pandemic of violence and impunity in Mexico.

Finally we speak with Legalease Collective member Garrett Zehr about the extradition of Canadian citizen Hassan Diab to France, after a faulty trial and a shocking lack of evidence, and the injustices in Canada’s extradition law and processes. Legalease can be heard of the second Friday of each month on CKUT 90.3FM in Montreal and worldwide at

Episode – September 2016 – About LegalEase!

LegalEase is a monthly show put together by a collective of former and current law students at McGill that explores the law and its institutions with a critical lens and at the same time makes the jargon of the law more accessible.

Listen to the Episode here


In today’s show we will hear from past and current students about their involvement in social movement lawyering and how it has shaped their experiences in law school. From Radlaw (Legalease’s original affiliation) to Legalease, students’ perspective on the law and the communities whose lives are affected by it on the daily has been sharpened through engaging with these perspectives, both individually and collectively.

LegalEase aussi faire suit d’un rapportage de cette été des travailleurs de vieux port qui était en grève depuis plus de 100 jours. Ils militent pour des bénéfices

Finally we have put together extracts of past shows, to illustrate the breadth and diversity of topics covered in the show, and give new recruits an idea of what they are signing up for!

Episode – October 2016 – Abortion, MMIW, Land Defenders

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,  Abortion, MMIW, Land Defenders. Listen to the Episode here.

Professors Shivaun Quinlivan and Susan Cahill shared their lived experiences and insights on the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution. This Amendment equates the right to life of a pregnant woman with that of a foetus and criminalizes abortion in all cases except where continuing a pregnancy would result in death.
You can read Cahill’s story at…grets-1.2542740

Last week, hundreds walked in honour and solidarity of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) at the 11th annual Missing Justice March in Montreal. Hear from Mohawk artist and activist Ellen Gabriel, who cast doubts over the effectiveness of the current national inquiry on MMIW and Stacey Gomez of the Centre for Gender Advocacy, who shared ways to get involved in raising awareness for MMIW.


And finally, Anishinaabe land defenders Vanessa and Lindsay Gray spoke in Montreal last month. Vanessa is facing a 25-year prison sentence for allegedly sabotaging Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline. We’ll play parts of their talk, in which they discuss environmental racism, organizing in the Chemical Valley, and the importance of defending land defenders.

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 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] or check our podcast library for past programming.



Join us on Saturday, March 16, 2013, for the Law Union of Ontario’s Annual Conference! 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Law Union, and this year’s conference will bring progressive legal and activist communities together to discuss an exciting and challenging series of issues. To register for a day of inspiring and provocative panels, workshops, and discussion click here: REGISTER

The conference will be held at Victoria College, on the University of Toronto campus. The address is 91 Charles Street, with the building just south of Charles. This facility is wheelchair accessible. Follow this link for a map of the exact location of the conference:

Scroll down for the full schedule of panels and speakers.

CPD hours pending.


In honour of the Law Union’s 40th anniversary, join other conference-goers on the evening of Friday, March 15th, for a celebration with live music, drinks, reflections, and awards. This event will be held at the Tranzac, 292 Brunswick Avenue, Toronto, from 7:30 pm onwards. All are welcome!

Victoria College


PANELS: 9 – 10:30 am

Envisioning the New Law Practice Program
Renatta Austin, Articling Student, City of Toronto
Elena Iosef, Osgoode Hall Legal and Literary Society
Janet Minor, Ministry of the Attorney General, Law Society Bencher

Deconstructing the Doctrine of Discovery
Tannis Nielsen, Artist and Educator

Mental Health and Justice: Three Unique Voices
Sarah Shartal

Working on the Margins: Perspectives on Migrant Work in Canada
Fay Faraday, Osgoode Hall Law School, Faraday Law
Kelly Botengan, Magkaisa Centre, Phillipine Women’s Centre
Evelyn Encalada, Justice for Migrant Workers

MORNING PLENARY: 10:45 am – 12:15 pm

Panels full of Women: 40 Years Later, Has Anything Changed?
Beth Symes, Symes Street & Millard LLP, Law Society Bencher
Janet Minor, Ministry of the Attorney General, Law Society Bencher
Jessica Wolfe, Legal Aid Ontario
Sharon Walker, Dykeman Dewirst O’Brien, LLP

PANELS: 1:30 – 3:00 pm

Resonance: Police Racial Profiling and Intelligence Gathering
Vickie McPhee, Rights Watch Network

Decolonizing Relationships: Treaties and Beyond
Diane Kelly, Former Ogichidaakwe (Grand Chief), Treaty #3
Crystal Sinclair, B.S.W., Activist and Organizer, Idle No More Toronto
Lorraine Land, Olthuis Kleer Townshend

Advocacy out of the Courtroom: Skills without Gowns
Asha James, Falconer Charney LLP
Janina Fogels, Human Rights Legal Support Centre
Diana Zlomistic, Toronto Star

Resisting Neoliberal Reductions in Access to Justice

PANELS: 3:15 – 4:45 pm

Solidarity City Now: Legal and Community Organizing for Immigrant Justice
Rathika Vasavithasan, Parkdale Community Legal Services
Faria Kamal, Health for All
Sarah Mikhaiel, Sanctuary Network
Liza Draman, Caregivers Action Network

The End of the Employee: A Critical Discussion on the Rise of Contract Work, Internships and Underemployment
Claire Seaborn, Canadian Intern Association
Jenny Ahn, CAW, Director for Membership, Mobilization and Political Action

Aboriginal Youth and Child Welfare
Rina Okimawinew, Attawapiskat First Nation
Billie-Jean McBride, George Brown College
Judith Rae, Olthuis Kleer Townshend

Prison Litigation as Harm Reduction


Delia Opekokew is a lawyer and a deputy Chief Adjudicator for the Independent Assessment Process. From the Canoe Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, she was the first First Nations lawyer ever admitted to the bar association in Ontario and in Saskatchewan, as well as the first woman ever to run for the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations.

Childcare will be provided – please email us in advance at with the number and ages of the children who will be attending.

If you would like to donate to the conference, you may do so through
the Jur-Ed Foundation at Canada Helps

Questions? Email us at, and include “conference” in the subject heading.

Discrimination Against Roma in Hungary: European Court

The European Court of Human Rights (constituted under the Council of Europe) released a decision on January 29, 2013 concerning discrimination against Roma citizens in Hungary. The case is HORVÁTH AND KISS v. HUNGARY 11146/11 . The two complainants had been been improperly placed in special education schools designed for mentally disabled / special needs students on the basis of their ethnic origin. The European Roma Rights Centre were active in representing the complainants.

Pre-emptive Deportations, Thanks Canada!

The ruling falls at a time when Canada is putting up major barriers to Roma migration. Despite voluminous indications of differential treatment and xenophobia, the Canadian Government, and in particular, Minister of Immigration et al, Jason Kenney has been making strides in depicting Hungary as a safe democratic country. In particular, and in a bizarre move, Kenney has been setting up billboards in Hungary, telling Roma people that if they come to Canada, they will be deported. Here is the sign below. We hope that Canada will take note of the recent Human Rights decision from Europe. The recent demonization of the Roma community has come on the heels of xenophobic remarks made by long-time Conservative Party activist Ezra Levant on Sun TV.

Family Status Discrimination: The Federal Court takes a stand on Childcare Issues for Workers

Canada’s Federal Court has recently issued two decisions finding a lack of consideration towards workers’ childare issues discrimination on the basis of ‘family status’. Both decisions were penned by The Honourable Leonard S. Mandamin.

First, on January 31, 2013, the Federal Court released  Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, 2013 FC 113 (CanLII). Here, Ms. Fiona Johnstone complains of human rights discrimination at work due to family status. Johnstone argued that her employer, the Canadian Border Services Agency, “engaged in a discriminatory employment practice with respect to family status, specifically, in relation to her parental childcare obligations.”  Johnstone had been working rotating shifts and requested full-time, fixed day shifts  to accommodate childcare for her kids. The Employer’s policy prohibited fixed day shifts. Johnstone was therefore ineligible for benefits available to full-time employees.

The Court reasons, at paras 125-128:

[125]      Simply stated, any significant interference with a substantial parental obligation is serious. Parental obligations to the child may be met in a number of different ways. It is when an employment rule or condition interferes with an employee’s ability to meet a substantial parental obligation in any realistic way that the case for prima faciediscrimination based on family status is made out.

[126]      In Amselem the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a person’s freedom of religion is interfered with where the person demonstrates that he or she has a sincere religious belief and a third party interfered, in a manner that is non-trivial or not insubstantial, with that person’s ability to act in accordance with the belief.

[127]      The phrase “a substantial parental duty or obligation”equates with and establishes the same threshold as a sincere religious belief. Amselem.

[128]      In my view, the serious interference test as proposed by the Applicant is not an appropriate test for discrimination on the ground of family status. It creates a higher threshold to establish a prima faciecase on the ground of family status as compared to other grounds. Rather, the question to be asked is whether the employment rule interferes with an employee’s ability to fulfill her substantial parental obligations in any realistic way.

This decision is cited and further bolstered by a second decision on the same topic, released February 1, 2013.  In Canadian National Railway v. Seeley, 2013 FC 117 (CanLII) , the Federal Court dismisses an appeal against finding of discrimination on the basis of family status.  Denise Seeley was employed by CN as a freight train conductor. She was on lay-off and was recalled to report to a temporary work assignment to cover a major shortage in Vancouver, British Columbia. She advised she could not report to Vancouver because of childcare issues, as Vancouver was far away from her home in Jasper, Alberta. CN gave Ms. Seeley additional time, however, she did not report for work; as a result, CN terminated her employment.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal reinstated her employment, amongst other remedies, and CN appealed the decision. An important component of the decision is at para 78 where Mandamin suggests the following test in assessing whether there is discrimination on the basis of family status:

[78]          In trying to distil the principles the above cases represent, I would venture to suggest there are underlying questions one or the other has either raised or  addressed:

a.         does the employee have a substantial obligation to provide childcare for the child or children; in this regard, is the parent the sole or primary care giver, is the obligation substantial and one that goes beyond personal choice;

b.         are there realistic alternatives available for the employee to provide for childcare: has the employee had the opportunity to explore and has explored available options; and is there a workplace arrangement, process, or collective agreement available to the employee that may accommodate an employee’s childcare obligations and workplace obligations;

c.         does the employer conduct, practice or rule put the employee in the difficult  position of choosing between her (or his) childcare duties or the workplace obligations?

The Federal Court dismissed the appeal, ruling that “the Tribunal’s finding that parental childcare obligations comes within the term “family status” in the Act.” Moreover, the finding  “was reasonable in keeping with the Supreme Court of Canada guidance in Dunsmuir,Khosa and Mowat.”