Author: Stephanie Voudouris

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Osgoode’s Distinguished Speaker Series: Justice L’Heureux-Dubé

“Don’t work for money, work for justice—you will make money anyway but the focus is quite different.” Between 2:00pm and 4:30pm on Monday, March 11, some variation of this quote reverberated throughout Osgoode via Twitter and Facebook. Osgoode’s Distinguished Speaker Series welcomed Justice L’Heureux-Dubé, and her presence was both captivating and refreshing. It was inspiring to hear the passion with which she spoke about the law, as well as the confidence with which she spoke her mind.

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Quebec (Attorney General) v A—Much ado about saying “I do”

In a decision handed down on January 25th, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada dealt with a Charter challenge to certain spousal support and property division articles in the Québec Civil Code. These provisions only applied to married or civil union spouses and it was argued that these provisions were unconstitutional under section 15(1) of the Charter because they did not apply to cohabiting couples. Québec (Attorney General) v. A, 2013 SCC 5, (also known as Eric v Lola) showcases a divided approach to two of the main policies underlying the family law regime: protection of choice and autonomy over...

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Peeling Back the Court’s Decision in R v NS

On December 20th, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in R v NS, 2012 SCC 72 [NS]. As Kirk Makin stated in an article written for the Globe & Mail: “The key question for the judges was: Can religious ritual and observance trump the right of defendants to a fair trial? While the court has wrestled with religious protections in the past, rarely has a case spawned such a violent clash of principles.” No matter what side of the debate one falls on, it has become clear that the practice of veiling tests the limits of the law’s toleration...

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Friedmann v MacGarvie: Deconstructing Discrimination and Differential Treatment

On November 8th, the British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”) released its decision in Friedmann v MacGarvie, 2012 BCCA 445 [Friedmann], stating that sexual harassment constitutes sex discrimination. While one might assume that this would be an obvious conclusion, the case is thought-provoking because of the role played by “differential treatment” in the discrimination analysis. The complexities of this analysis have been recognized in both human rights jurisprudence, and in equality jurisprudence under s. 15 of the Charter. Specifically, the Supreme Court of Canada’s (“SCC”) comments in Withler v Canada (Attorney General), [2011] 1 SCR 396 [Withler] shifted the focus of the s. 15...

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These Heels Were Made for Walking: Christian Louboutin S.A. v Yves Saint Laurent America Inc.

Last year, TheCourt.ca tackled the increasingly heated battle between two luxury fashion houses, Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). Christian Louboutin, the famous French shoe designer best known for his heels with the red sole, sued Yves Saint Laurent for trademark infringement, claiming more than $1 million in damages. The battle began when Yves Saint Laurent came out with its Spring 2011 line, which featured monochromatic shoes. Although the shoes came in a variety of colours, Louboutin took issue with the red heels; the outer soles were painted in the same lacquered red that Louboutin had been using for...

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If it’s about pregnancy, it’s about women: Ivana Levkovic v Her Majesty the Queen

On October 10th, 2012 the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) heard arguments in the case of Ivana Levkovic v Her Majesty the Queen. The next day, the SCC heard arguments in the case of Her Majesty the Queen v ADH. Both cases involved women who had left their foetuses after giving birth. In Levkovic, the foetus was found dead, and the woman was charged under s. 243 of the Criminal Code (the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal can be found here). In ADH, the foetus was revived and the woman was charged under s. 218 of the Criminal...

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Loyola High School v Courchesne: Can private denominational schools seek immunity from state-mandated courses on ethics, morality, and religion?

The presence of God in schools has been the subject of much controversy; specifically, over the past decade, Quebec has undergone a process of secularizing its education system.  In 1997, an amendment was made to the Constitution Act, 1867, which only took effect in Quebec. This amendment removed constitutional protection for denominational education in public schools. By 2000, denominational schools no longer enjoyed official status as religious educational institutions, although certain private schools retained a religious character. As will be explained in greater detail below, private schools that identified with a particular denomination were permitted to involve their students in...

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(De)vilifying Roma Refugees

Professors Benjamin Berger and Sean Rehaag published an article in the Toronto Star entitled “Stop Vilifying Roma Refugees.” In this article, the authors criticize the use of ethnic stereotypes in the public rhetoric surrounding refugee and immigration policies: Talking about crime and immigration issues in terms of ethnic tendencies and cultural habits is more than just a lazy way around hard issues—though it is certainly that. Ethnic vilification and stereotyping are historically proven evils that are harmful and dangerous for the targeted communities and degrade the society that allows such views to take hold. Such stereotyping is an easy and...