The non-profit organization Law School Admission Council (LSAC) based in the United States was penalized $7.7 million USD to compensate over 6000 students from the past 5 years for application to accommodate. Prior practice included Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores being “flagged” on law school applications if accommodation for extra time was applied during examination. The decision impacted domestic United States schools and many other schools abroad where they accepted LSAT scores with law school applications. The United States Department of Justice claimed of “widespread and systemic discrimination” by the LSAC where they intervened with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The LSAT continued to be a key criterion for law school admissions in the United States where excellence in the LSAT was highly prized. The LSAT scores are used throughout Canada and played an important role to determine how schools were ranked. There was no French language LSAT version so Quebec-based schools and University of Ottawa’s French section were not affected. Due to jurisdiction issues, Canadian school officials do not have control over LSAT’s examination policies and procedures. Lorna Turnbull, the dean of Manitoba’s Robson Hall Law School indicated such powerlessness and commented on the incredible amount of money potentially required to exclude LSAT scores for law school admission. Canadian officials are required to accommodate students in accordance with the relevant human rights legislation within their respective jurisdictions. Lorna Turnbull added that Canadian schools have suffered from such passive acceptance for quite some time. The class action lawsuit was initiated by 3 students in California and ballooned to almost 40 claimants where it prompted the United States Department of Justice to issue a consent decree to the LSAC to have breached the Americans with Disabilities Act with systemic discrimination. Sarah Triano, a teenager from the state of California and the class action initiator from 1997 was repeatedly denied accommodation due to her immune deficiency disorder and battles with depression. A piece of statistic from the Osgoode Hall Law School 2013 entering class showed 8% of the students with some sort of disability. The interviewees to the article noted accommodation was meant to create equal opportunity. Ravi Malhotra, an Ottawa law professor and human rights committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities was concerned the practice of “flagging” accommodated students infringed the human rights of Canadians.
by Ho Cheung
Source: Canadian Lawyer Mag
If you are planning on getting married anytime soon, then keep reading as you need to know that not all marriage licences are created equal.
By: Pagan Cheung, Paralegal Student. Published: Sun Jun 01 2014
Photo Credit: Kim Seidi Photography via Stacy & Jeff’s wedding
As according to the Star, the secret to saving for your wedding starts with the marriage licence. To begin planning for your wedding, the first thing you have to do is to obtain a marriage licence and the price is different for some Ontario municipalities.
According to the Ontario Marriage Act, municipalities are required to charge a minimum of $75 for a licence and $48 of this ends up back in the pockets of the province. Other than that, the municipalities can charge whatever administrative fees they feel are necessary to cover their expenses.
For instance, the city of Toronto charges $140 that “covers staff and infrastructure costs, including searches through historical records. The city issued 14,375 licences last year.”
Although it seems unfair that each municipality has the autonomy to charge different administrative fees as one would assume that the work involved for staff is basically the same, the statute does allow municipalities this flexibility in their differing fee schedules.
For better prices on marriage licences, couples should consider venturing into small towns in rural areas. They can purchase their marriage licence anywhere in Ontario no matter where they are living or where the wedding will take place.
Here is a breakdown of the prices for a marriage licence in Ontario.
|Price list for Purchase of a Marriage Licence in Ontario Municipalities|
The best bargain seems to be located in the township of Brock where a marriage licence is still only the required minimum of $75 as set out in the Ontario Marriage Act.
While the drive and the cost of gas may not seem to be worth the effort for some couples, keep in mind that the licence is valid for three months from date of purchase and they can plan ahead to host their wedding near the township. While a savings of $50 may not seem like much but why not spend the money for other things, like your honeymoon?
This is exactly what many couples are doing; for instance, “Ingersoll (population of 12,000) sold 227 licences in 2013 with three-quarters of them going to out-of-town couples.”
Do you think that all Ontario municipalities should charge the same minimum rate of $75?
Please leave your comments below.
SOURCE: Toronto Star
By: Farrah Rajan
Walmart has brokered a deal with Axess Law to provide legal services in select Walmart locations. The founders of Axess Law are hoping to promote access to justice by alleviating the fear people have of consulting a lawyer. They provide a walk-in service for a small number of matters that they deal with on-site and refer matters out of their scope to other firms. With this business model, they are able to offer affordable rates and provide service in the evenings and on the weekends.
By: Dhanvir Sohal
The article deals with a vital issue in the Canadian legal system, the lack of providing legal aid to the people in need.
Who is entitled to Legal aid?
The article states that legal aid is only being provided to the very poor which is constantly resulting in large number of cases being self represented and is causing lengthier resolution times and worse outcomes for the cases. Similarly, the article discusses the case of an office administrator at a law firm, Rhonda Nordlander, making $40,000 a year and that amount being considered high for being eligible for legal aid. The applicant states that after paying high legal fees for her initial stage for divorce and custody of her children, she is insolvent by the beginning of this year. Thereby, she was forced to self-represent upon being denied legal aid by the courts.
What criteria is considered for granting Legal Aid?
Moreover, the article also explains the steps taken by the courts to deal with the issue of scarcity of financial resources available to the courts.
The courts are “triaging” the cases to distribute legal aid among the cases that needs it the most, assessing based on:
- The complexity of the case
- Ability of the applicant
- Seriousness of the case and the impact of delay on the parties involved
By considering the criteria for “triaging” the cases, the judge in the present case decided that the applicant is intelligent enough to understand the complexity of the case and by this means is being able to self represent.
What is the impact of being self-represented?
However, the applicant opposes the above view by stating that it would be beneficial for her to have a legal representative as it would result in speedier resolution times and fairer results. The studies advocate this, stating that even the most capable individual would feel overwhelmed when self representing. Aditionally, the applicant describes the results of self-representing as causing “post traumatic court disorder” to her, causing high stress and anxiety after court appearances. The studies also support this by stating that the post court appearance disorder is highly present in the self-represented cases involving personal matters, particularly the custody of the children.
Thus, the eligibility for receiving a legal aid being a subjective criteria, leads to high number of cases in need denied legal aid and being forced to self-represent. Consequently, the large number of cases being self represented results in higher resolution times, worse outcomes and causing high level of stress and anxiety to individuals.
by Fathima Cader and Sumayya Kassamali
Ten years after September 11, 2001, the term “Islamophobia,” once largely obscure, has become all but inevitable when discussing contemporary politics. As Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden became household names, Western fear of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims has also grown. Canada has been no stranger to this phenomenon. Despite its reputation as a haven of multicultural tolerance, one 2011 poll showed that 56% of Canadians believe Western societies are in “irreconcilable conflict” with Muslim societies. 40% of the 1500 respondents approved the profiling of airplane passengers who appear Muslim. As Canada enters its seventh year of Conservative rule, how are progressives to understand and respond to this trend?
Islamophobia relies on characterizations of Islam and its adherents as uniquely prone to certain things, such as violence and sexism, and uniquely hostile to others, such as democracy and secular government. It includes discrimination based on perceived religious identity, such that non-Muslims, including Sikhs and Arab Christians, have also been targets of anti-Muslim violence in cases of “mistaken identity.” Meanwhile, Muslims in North America who do not appear to come from the Middle East or South Asia, such as Muslims of European or East Asian descent, have been less centrally targeted in this blurry overlap of religious and racial discrimination.
In this primer, we do not attempt to cover every instance of Islamophobia in Canada in the past decade. Rather, we provide an overview of its broad assumptions, particularly focusing on two themes that have proven central to discussions about Muslims: sexism and violence.
In offering this analysis, we stress that responses to Islamophobia must be placed within the context of Canada’s ongoing conservative political shift — from its increased military engagements around the world to its anti-immigrant policies at home, and from its vast cuts in social service funding to its ever-increasing levels of state surveillance. While numerous civil liberties and human rights organizations have reported on the rise of anti-Muslim hate crimes in Canada, we emphasize that Islamophobia is not just interpersonal: it is systemic. In fighting it, therefore, we must engage with the many other forms of oppression that also organize Canadian society.
“Human rights have a dysfunctional relationship with justice. The language is certainly beautiful, but it’s all dressed up with nowhere to go,” charged Dennis Edney in a scathing lecture at the Faculty of Law at UBC on September 15.
Edney worked from 2004 to 2011 on Omar Khadr’s defence against charges stemming from the July 2002 firefight death of a US soldier. Khadr, who is Canadian, was 15 at the time. American forces interrogated him for three months in the US-operated Bagram Theatre Detention Facility in Afghanistan, before transferring him to Guantanamo Bay, where he remains. In 2005, Khadr’s chief interrogator from Bagram, US Sergeant Joshua Claus, was found guilty of offences relating to the routine torture and homicide of Bagram prisoners. Claus received a five-month prison sentence. He testified at Khadr’s military trial in 2010.
In April 2009, the Federal Court ruled that Canada was complicit in the US’s torture of Khadr and ordered Ottawa to seek his repatriation. The Federal Court of Appeal concurred, but the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that though Canada was violating Khadr’s human rights, it was not obliged to seek his repatriation.
In October 2010, after insisting on his innocence for years, Khadr pled guilty in a military trial to terrorism-related offences, in exchange for a promise from Canada to repatriate him by October 2011 to serve the rest of his prison sentence in Canada. On September 20, the Conservatives tabled the controversial omnibus Bill C-10, which adds “additional criteria” to decisions about “whether or not to allow the transfer of a Canadian offender back to Canada to serve their sentence.”
Shortly after the trial, Edney declared that Khadr “would have confessed to anything, including the killing of John F. Kennedy, just to get out of this hellhole” and that if he had refused, Khadr would have been faced with “an unfair [military] trial based on evidence that would be inadmissible in a real court.” On Thursday, Edney said the detainees are entitled “to all kinds of international protections, but our governments are not asking for them. And by not asking, we become complicit.” There are nearly 800 prisoners in Guantanamo, but only 4 have been charged and given a trial. Detainees cannot see the evidence used against them.
In his lecture, Edney denounced the Canadian government for perpetuating a culture of fear in the camp’s defence. Edney stated that “since there has always historically been terrorism, and since there will always be terrorist threats, this war on terror – if allowed to be one – is unlike any other, because it is never-ending.” Thus, last decade has been marred by “habeas corpus being abandoned, secret courts being created to hear secret evidence, guilt inferred by association, torture and rendition nakedly justified.”
“I went into Guantanamo Bay as a lawyer and I came out as a broken father,” said Edney. “I never thought that in my lifetime I would go to such an evil place and see such evil being done.” Of the infamous cages, Edney said that “people go into those cages thinking they’re having a holiday in there.” He drew attention to Camps 5, 6, and 7. The first two are “designed for enhanced interrogation tactics: torture.” He said about Camp 7 that “We are not allowed to talk about it. We have prisoners in there who came from Europe, about a year and a half ago, and they’re going to be there forever, because there’s no one there to help.”
Edney discussed the 9/11 witch hunt, in which “the US government detained hundreds, if not thousands, of people of colour on the suspicion of terrorist activity, some of them up to a year, all without charges.” He continued that “almost none of those individuals were found to have been in any way connected with terrorism. Yet many continue to be held without being formally charged with any crime or immigration violation.” In this way Guantanamo “provides powerful evidence of how America and the West are making war on terror synonymous with the war on Islam. No white Anglo-Saxon goes to Guantanamo Bay. Any American picked up for terrorism offences gets due process in a federal court system in New York.”
One audience member suggested that the camp must serve some purpose, because otherwise US President Barrack Obama would have followed through on his promise to shut it down. Edney responded that the camp primarily functions as “an important propaganda tool.” He argued the Obama administration has in fact “systematised” the culture of torture normalised under George W. Bush, for instance by disallowing victims of extraordinary rendition from suing Washington for torture suffered overseas.
Edney was also critical of “lazy” media and academics who have persisted in “slotting events into a sort of juicy clash of civilisations story,” as exemplified by mainstream media coverage of Anders Behring Breivik’s terrorist attack in Oslo. He killed 69 people in July, avowedly to protect Europe from Muslims. Edney said, “as soon as the bomb went off, media organisations began reporting on jihadist organisations.” This, he said, “fit perfectly the story we have all been telling each other since 9/11 that who else, who else could be so hateful, so crazy, so disrespectful of life but Muslims.” He pointed out that though Breivik is a white Norwegian Christian, “we don’t hold Christians or conservatives or liberals responsible for Brievek’s despicable acts.”
He said that “since September 11 2001, race, ethnicity, and religion have become proxies for suspected terrorist activity, which in turn has become a pretext for the application of Canadian immigration laws in an unequal manner towards Arabs, South Asians, Muslims and so on.” In an apparent nod to Bill C-4, the anti-refugee bill that the Conservatives tabled on Tuesday despite widespread condemnation, he noted that “we just have to listen to media descriptions coming out of Ottawa when we talk about refugees today. We call them queue jumpers and potential terrorists.”
Edney also expressed anger at the public’s willingness to be lulled into complicity. He described the transfer of the prisoners to Guantanamo “in rows in aircraft, hooded and shackled for transportation across the Atlantic” as similar to eighteenth century slave ships. He maintained that for “the watching world, no knowledge of international humanitarian conventions is needed to understand that what was being witnessed was simply unlawful.” He blamed public apathy for “allowing anti-Muslim sentiment to become part of our mainstream conversations.” He said, “I say to you we cannot tackle manifestations of intolerance, unless we learn and understand how the constant use of fear pervades our everyday life, and how that fear is being used to influence how you and I think and how you and I act. It’s that same manipulation of fear that has allowed military escapades into countries beyond those who bombed the twin towers. It is that same message that has been exploited by participating countries to reduce civil liberties and infringe upon human rights by allowing such places as Guantanamo Bay to exist.”
The need for action had been a prevailing theme throughout the lecture. Edney returned to it at his lecture’s close: “Not only does it [Guantanamo] continue to exist, they continue building it. Guantanamo is going to be there for a long, long time, unless you do something. Unless you really do something about it.” He concluded that “the only crime equal to wilful inhumanity is the crime of indifference, the crime of silence, the crime of forgetting.”
In that vein, we cannot afford to forget that Guantanamo Bay’s precedents in the West include Canada’s own internment camps, built in BC expressly to detain Japanese-Canadians during WWII. Similarly, Bill C-4’s predecessors include the Chinese head-tax policy.
An international coalition of harm reduction experts — comprised of the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and CACTUS Montréal — has today been granted intervener status to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada to support Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection site, against the Canadian government’s attempts to shutter it. [...]
Adding insult to injury, a 2009 provincially funded report acknowledging the benefits of safe-injection sites and calling for their implementation was recently revealed to have been suppressed for a full year by Quebec’s Minister of Health. Despite this climate of resistance, CACTUS has announced its intention to open a supervised injection site in Montréal later this year.
‘For the first time the Supreme Court has ruled that superior courts are empowered to order governments to fund public interest litigation before statutory courts and tribunals. [...]
Brodsky suggested that “if governments don’t want the courts to attempt to deal with the problems that have been created by cuts to access-to-justice programs, then governments need to address the gaps themselves.”
She told The Lawyers Weekly “the possibility of obtaining an interim cost award can never replace the Court Challenges Program, or civil legal aid programs, that have been decimated in places like B.C. The limitations of the case-by-case cost-seeking approach are underscored by the decision in Caron in that the court confirmed that interim cost awards must be ‘highly exceptional.’ However, in reality, the circumstances in which the absence of public funding works a serious injustice are not highly exceptional. Such circumstances have become very ordinary in Canada.”’
As a UWO student (and at many other Canadian universities,) you automatically pay an annual fee to an organization called Access Copyright. An item is included in your student activity fee, and it used to be $3.38 per student per year, plus an amount based on the number of photocopies made at library photocopy machines. However, when the licence agreement expired last year, Access Copyright did not seek to renegotiate with UWO. Instead, it applied to the Copyright Board for a massive restructuring of the agreement. If the Board approves the request, Access Copyright would receive $45 per student per year. With 30,000 full-time students, this amounts to $1.35 million annually. But that’s not all. Access Copyright would also have the right to surveillance: Section 14 (4) of the proposed licence agreement states that:
The Educational Institution shall give Access Copyright, on reasonable notice, right of access through-out the Educational Institution’s premises in order to organize and carry out an audit, including full access to the Secure Network and all Course Collections.
This would include access to university email accounts.
There are a number of problems with the Access Copyright regime. First of all, every university student is presumed to be infringing copyright and this seems very unlikely given the Fair Dealing rights in the Canadian Copyright Act that expressly permit the copying of non-substantial portions of a work for the purpose of private study. As well, the university is presumed to be responsible for the presumed copyright infringement by students. This is contrary to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in CCH Canadian Limited v. Law Society of Upper Canada,  1 S.C.R. 339.CCD, which held that a library is NOT responsible for copyright infringement merely by providing access to photocopiers.
What is more troubling, though, is that by paying Access Copyright, our fair dealing rights become meaningless.
What makes this ruling is significant is that a high court is here recognising that the detention camps in which refugees are held in the West can themselves be inhumane to the point of that sending people to them would be illegal. This is of particular relevance for analyses of Australia’s detention camps, which arguably some of the worst worldwide; the abuses are such that they’re driving more and more of the refugees to suicide and hunger strikes (some by sewing their mouths shut).
In a landmark ruling the European Court for Human Rights has criticized the EU’s asylum policy. It said forcing refugees to apply for asylum in the country of their entry into the EU was inhumane.
The European Court for Human Rights on Friday ruled illegal the deportation of an asylum seeker from Belgium to Greece.
The Afghan national first entered the European Union in Greece but then traveled to Belgium to apply for asylum there. Under current EU regulations, asylum applications must be processed in the country of entry into the 27-nation bloc.
Yet the judges at Europe’s top human rights court said that the appalling conditions in Greek refugee camps were inhumane and humiliating – and most importantly that Belgium was aware of those conditions but still sent the Afghan back.
The court ruling could mean that the European Union will have to rethink its entire asylum policy.
“This is a historic moment for the protection of Human Rights,” Marei Pelzer of rights group ProAsyl told Deutsche Welle.
“The ruling will have fundamental consequences in so far as the EU can not simply pretend that the situation with regards to asylum seekers is the same in all EU member states. And it’s crucial that refugees should not be forced to stay in Greece just because Greece happens to be the country where most of them arrive.”
Almost 90 percent of all illegal border crossings into the EU take place via Greece. The country has repeatedly come under fire for appalling living conditions in its refugee camps.
Human rights groups have long been calling for a more coherent EU policy that would make all member countries responsible for asylum cases in the same way.
Appalling conditions in Greece
The circumstances and procedures that refugees are exposed to in Greece are the worst in Europe, according to a recent report on asylum seekers by rights group Amnesty International.
The European Commission has also already proposed a reform to the current regulation in an effort to take some of the pressure off countries such as Greece, Italy and Malta, which see the main influx of refugees from outside the EU.
Germany has so far rejected the Commission’s proposals for reform yet rights groups hope that the Strasbourg ruling will have Berlin rethink its position. But Reinhard Grindel, member of parliament for Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats insists the solution to the problem in Greece has to be fixed by Athens rather than by watering down EU regulations.
“All EU member states guarantee the international human rights standards,” he told Deutsche Welle. “We do have one problem case, and that’s Greece. However, what this means is not that we have to change EU rules but rather that Athens has to get its house in order.”
“For Germany a change to the current EU regulations would be a catastrophe,” he warned. “It would mean a flood of asylum seekers coming to Germany. And that’s something that everyone who now calls for changes of EU rules has to realize.”
And yet, to a certain extent, Germany has already changed its position. Berlin earlier this week announced that for one year it would stop sending back any refugees to Greece, because of what Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere described as “appalling conditions” for refugees there.
Britain, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have also stopped sending refugees back to Greece.
In a unanimous decision in October 2010, the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed that a sexual assault complainant may wear a niqab, a Muslim facial veil, while testifying. The Muslim Canadian Congress had intervened on behalf of the two accused men who had requested the order that the complainant remove her niqab. Upon the judgement’s release, Tarek Fatah, founder of the MCC, argued that the decision made “a fool of the Canadian judicial system and values of gender equality”. In fact, the court had paid careful attention to balancing the witness’s freedom of religion and the accused’s right to make full answer and defence. To date, Fatah is perhaps the only person to so openly argue that allowing a sexual assault complainant to testify in front of her alleged attackers in the clothes in which she feels safest is a denial of gender equality. For some context, it is worth noting that Fatah has long been a vociferous advocate of a total ban of the niqab in Canada. His response to attempts in Quebec to ban the niqab was to proclaim, “I welcome the rescue of all Muslim-Canadian women.” The wholesale paternalism of his language is revealing: to the extent that Fatah wishes to counter gender inequities, his position has persistently emerged from a patriarchal perspective that infantalises Muslim women by denying their agency in making sartorial and religious choices for themselves, even such highly contested choices as the one to wear niqab.
To be sure, generalised public discomfort around the niqab did inform most mainstream debate about the decision. However, in this paper I want to shift the discussion away from the Huntington-esque clash-of-civilisations characterisation advocated by Fatah to a more considered analysis of both the specific reasonings and the broader implications of the judgement. I argue here that the judgement actually signals a substantive attempt by the OCA to address some of the systemic inequities that entrench the pervasiveness of gendered violence in society.
FACTS AND HISTORY
The facts of the case are distressing, but not atypical for sexual assault cases. The complainant, N.S., alleged that between the ages of six and 11 she had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by her uncle and her cousin, the accused. In 1992, when she was 16, N.S. disclosed the assaults to a teacher, but the accused were not charged until 2007.
In 2004, as part of her practice of Islam, N.S. began wearing the hijab, a headscarf, and niqab, a veil that covers her face, whenever in the presence of males who are not her direct relatives. At the preliminary inquiry in 2008, after electing trial by judge and jury, both accused men sought an order that would require N.S. to remove her niqab before testifying. The preliminary inquiry judge ruled in favour of the accused. Read more
Are you a progressive law student in Canada? Join the Justice League!
Justice League-Canada is a nationwide listserv for progressive law students, articling students, and new calls. Its purpose is to create a national grassroots network, in which we can foster a supportive community of like-minded peers. One anticipated outcome of this is that by sharing resources and energy, we can do sustained cross-national work in our capacities as law students, advocates, and lawyers. Additionally, this space can be used to highlight job opportunities outside the usual big firm market, as well as to hone academic interests and assist local community organisations and campaigns.
If you’d like to join, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and affiliation.
We’re also looking for help with French translation, so apologies for how heavily Anglo this callout currently is, but do email us/join the group if you can assist with addressing that bias.