Category: Human Rights

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Sexism, Homophobia & Racism: Reasonable Limitations on Testamentary Freedom

Testamentary freedom is a foundational principle of estate planning. Individuals are allowed to decide how to devise their assets with minimal state interference. However, testamentary freedom has several key limitations. One notable way to curb this otherwise unhindered freedom is striking down clauses in a will that violate public policy. Last week in Royal Trust Corporation of Canada v The University of Western Ontario et al, 2016 ONSC 1143 (“Royal Trust”), Justice Mitchell of the Ontario Superior Court (“ONSC”) struck down the provisions of a will setting up a trust that was racist, homophobic, and sexist.

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New Toronto Police Initiative: Expanding Pre-charge Youth Diversion

Toronto police are set to launch a new youth diversion program that will be fully implemented by early 2016. In a recent news release, the two Toronto Police officers responsible for spearheading this program describe the benefits of pre-charge diversion in lowering youth recidivism (i.e. reoffending) rates. They also bring attention to the positive results of a pilot project administered in 2002. For this pilot, nearly 1,500 youth participated in diversion and the officers indicated that only 4% of the diverted youth reoffended during the 20-month period of the test. In addition, the officers spoke about the intangible benefits of...

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TheCourt.ca Update: Sentencing for the Murder of Officer Garrett Styles

Sentence Handed Down Recently, TheCourt.ca published an analysis of how the court might rule in the case of R v SK. On November 16, 2015, Superior Court Justice Alex Sosna rendered his sentence for the now 19-year old man who was convicted for the first-degree murder of York Regional Police Officer Garrett Styles. Justice Sosna sentenced S.K. to 9 years of conditional supervision, which essentially means that S.K. will not have to spend any time within the confines of a correctional facility. S.K. will serve his sentence at home. It is too early to gauge public reaction toward the sentence...

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Canada v Esfand: The Politics of Refugee Law

With the intensification of the Syrian crisis, refugees have been much in the news lately. Refugees also became a quasi-central issue during the earlier part of the 2015 Canadian federal election campaign. The past 9 years of Conservative government have proven transformational for Canada’s refugee and immigration system, some would argue for the worst. In Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v Esfand, 2015 FC 1190 [Esfand], the Federal Court (“FC”) tackled the issue of cessation, which allows the government to claim that a person’s refugee status has ceased when they have “voluntarily re-availed” themselves of the protection of the country they...

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Youth Sentencing and The Death of Officer Garrett Styles: Punishing with a Cause?

Within a few weeks, Ontario Superior Court Justice Alex Sosna will deliver his sentence in one of the most prolonged and closely watched youth offender cases in Canadian history. He will have to decide the appropriate punishment for a now 19-year-old whose actions led to the death of a York Regional Police constable over four years ago. This case has ignited strong views on what is “fitting” for the offender given the nature of the offense. As it stands, the youth offender, S.K., is a convicted first-degree murderer but, somehow, this reality does not seem to par with other examples...

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Establishing Discrimination in Quebec v Bombardier Inc

Human rights law is one of the most fast-evolving and dynamic areas of law. With the fabric of Canadian society evolving at a rapid pace, legislators and decision makers are grappling with increasingly nuanced and socially sensitive human rights disputes. The need for a clear, concise, and coherent approach to discrimination is therefore paramount. The Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) recently took the opportunity to address some of these issues in Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) v Bombardier Inc (Bombardier Aerospace Training Centre), 2015 SCC 39 [Bombardier]. This case is first and...

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Veils, Oaths, and Canadian Citizenship: Ishaq v Canada

On February 6, 2015, in the well-publicized decision of Ishaq v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2015 FC 156 [Ishaq], the Federal Court ruled that it was unlawful for the Canadian Government to ban new citizens from reciting the citizenship oath with a face-covering veil. Since the decision was released, the Harper Government has announced emphatically that it will appeal the judgment.

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Ontario Court of Appeal Says Housing Rights Case Can’t Proceed: Tanudjaja v Canada

Ontario housing activists were disappointed by a December ruling from the Ontario Court of Appeal. In a 2-1 decision, the court decided that the pleadings in Tanudjaja v Canada, 2014 ONCA 852 [Tanudjaja], did not present the bench with a justiciable issue, upholding a lower court decision to strike the application. The application had asked the court to decide, in essence, whether adequate housing is a positive right under s. 7 and s. 15 of the Charter. It stated that changes to legislation, policies, programs and services by the Canadian and Ontario governments have led to inadequate housing and increased homelessness, which...

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Upcoming Symposium: Understanding and Taming Public and Private Corruption in the 21st Century

From ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin being found guilty of corruption in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to a report finding that the owners of Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza were responsible for a building collapse, to Canadian Senators wrongfully claiming various travel expenses and expenditures, the problems of public and private corruption are a reality in business and politics today. To bring such problems into focus, on Thursday November 6th and Friday November 7th, the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, in collaboration with the Jack & Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime, and Security, will host its second bi-annual symposium,...

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Can Domestic Abuse Victims Qualify as Refugees? – A Comment on Matter of A-R-C-G et al

The recently-released decision of the United States’ Board of Immigration Appeals (“the Board”) in the Matter of A-R-C-G et al., (“Matter of A-R-C-G“), 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014) may signal the United States’ growing openness to granting asylum to women who flee from domestic abuse.  While the decision itself may be considered overdue, its reasoning takes a strong critical stance against nations that do not make reasonable efforts to protect women from violence. This reasoning stands in contrast to the more conservative approach that is usually applied by courts in both the United States and Canada. If the Board’s reasoning in the Matter of A-R-C-G is adopted by courts in the...