Osgoode sponsored two lively receptions at Campbell House, the historic house on the corner of Queen and University in downtown Toronto which is home to the Advocates Society. The first featured an exhibit of photo essays from the International Legal Partnerships (ILP) based on photographs taken by ILP fellowship recipients around the Global South in the summer of 2012. The second, hosted by Justice Harry LaForme and Janice LaForme, featured the “Faceless Doll” creations of the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Government, and marked the occasion of the visit by the renowned Gixtsan artist Charles (Ya’Ya) Heit, who will be creating a carving for the new Osgoode building. Each showcases the possibilities of art to enrich legal education, enhance legal research and build community. Read the rest of this entry →
(an edited version of this post was published in the Canadian Jewish News, May 5, 2013)
Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and its Library recently hosted the only Canadian showing of The Face of the Ghetto: Pictures by Jewish Photographers from the Lodz Ghetto, 1940-1944, an exhibition of photographs taken during the German occupation of Lodz, Poland, during the Second World War.
The remarkable exhibit did not depict the violence and suffering of ghetto life, but rather the defiance of a community determined to continue individual and community life. For example, one photo highlighted life in a school., another focused on care for the elderly; one photo documented Jewish policemen and firemen in the ghetto, while yet another featured a wedding. The ghetto was indeed a place of disease and tears but also of resilience and resistance.
But what do these images have to do with the law and legal education? Read the rest of this entry →
We often think of capital campaigns as about raising the funds for buildings. With Osgoode’s building now renovated, our thoughts are turning to a far more significant kind of capital campaign – one focused on “human capital.” One approach to human capital is to fund endowed Chairs and Institutes, and Osgoode is readying to launch the Winkler Chair and Institute for Dispute Resolution, which we hope redefines the social and economic opportunity to which progressive dispute resolution may give rise. The other approach to human capital is the subject of this post – investing in opportunities for our students through funded summer internships. As Law Students at Osgoode – and elsewhere – emerge from the bleary-eyed exam period and embark on summer experiences of one kind or another, the time is ripe to examine these internships, which I believe speak volumes about a law school’s values, its alumni, and its supporters.
On Earth Day, we are asked to turn our mind to what we are doing to take leadership of our environmental future. So, what better time to ask: what would it take for Osgoode to be in a leadership role on environmental issues? There are at least four areas which need to be our focus. Read the rest of this entry →
In a previous post, I discussed the importance of good data as a point of departure for culture that embraces diversity and inclusion. This week was our student-led Diversity Week at Osgoode and so it is an appropriate juncture at which to discuss the results of the data on diversity at Osgoode.
Osgoode’s Class of 2015 features 42% of students who identify as non-white. This Class is the most diverse in Osgoode’s history (and, we think, perhaps in the history of Canadian legal education, though the mix of comparative data from other schools makes these sorts of national assessments challenging). Applications from indigenous students are up by over one-third while the number of black students in the class of 2015 has doubled from the class of 2014! Close to a quarter of the entering class of 2015 have graduate degrees while one law student out of 7 enters law school over the age of 30. Perhaps most remarkable of all, a quarter of the Osgoode Class of 2015 was born outside Canada (from 36 different countries). Read the rest of this entry →
The following comment was published in Osgoode’s newspaper, Obiter Dicta, on February 25, 2013
I congratulate the ILP on choosing to focus on the freedom of expression for this special edition of Obiter Dicta.
In a recent paper (co-authored with Valerie Crystal), we explore the sub judice principle, under which journalists, politicians and others are restricted from reporting on pending and on-going litigation. The rationale for this rule, which dates back to the origins of the press, is to avoid prejudicing a jury by public discourse about a case and to preserve the integrity of the judicial process. While restrictions on the attempt to influence or undermine the impartiality of such a proceeding may be justified, in our analysis, the principle is often overstated. Reporting on litigation is now commonplace (not to mention live-tweeting of high-profile trials), and the increased public awareness of the judicial process is arguably is a greater good than the potential of tainting judges or juries. Where this is not the case, the option of a formal publication ban remains open to the parties to seek. And politicians should not be able to use this legal doctrine to skirt accountability through blanket excuses of “no comment.” As we conclude in the context of the sub judice principle, if the aspirations of our constitutional democracy are to be fulfilled, limits on the freedom of expression (and its companion, freedom of the press), must be both exceptional and minimal.
The freedom to express one’s views, especially unpopular or dissenting views, lies at the heart both of constitutional democracy and the rule of law. It is the first freedom to disappear in a dictatorship, because without it, it is far easier to take away all the other freedoms. By the same token, when the freedom of expression is safeguarded, other freedoms and civil liberties become inevitable. Read the rest of this entry →
I have spent an enjoyable and eye-opening week in Japan, visiting some of Osgoode’s partner law schools (Waseda and Nagoya) and participating in a Legal Ethics Symposium (University of Tokyo). Speaking with members of the legal academy in Japan, it is clear the very foundations of the legal education system are under siege. And, if we are not careful, places like Canada could get caught in the “Tokyo Drift” as well. Read the rest of this entry →
It was wonderful to meet Cory Rubin, the 2013 Dean for a Day, and to reflect on his winning essay which focuses on the heart and soul of the student experience at Law School. The idea behind the Dean for a Day is to encourage students to submit essays on how they would improve/change Osgoode, with the winning candidate taking on the Dean’s duty for a day in February while I take the student’s courses. Cory’s essay (reproduced at the bottom of this blog post), asks whether students are receiving the feedback on exams, essays and assignments that they want and need. Read the rest of this entry →
This comment piece was first published on January 21, 2013 on Canadian Legalease: http://canadianlegalease.com/2013/01/21/minister-flahertys-misstep-and-the-abcs-of-ethics-and-politics/
On Friday, January 18, 2013, the federal Ethics Commissioner confirmed that Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty acted “improperly” and in so doing, breached the Conflict of Interest Act. The Minister had written a letter to the CRTC on behalf of a constituent who was seeking a radio license, which are decided upon by the Canadian Radio-Telecommunication Commission (CRTC).
The Ethics Commissioner directed Minister Flaherty to refrain from writing similar letters in the future without seeking approval from her office. While this slap on the wrist may resolve this relatively modest ethical infraction, it once again raises concerns about the Federal Government’s lack of respect for the independence and impartiality of the administrative and regulatory bodies which must act and be seen to act at arm’s length from Government. As I have written in other contexts, the independence and impartiality of these bodies depends not just on clear legal and ethical boundaries, but on political leadership. Read the rest of this entry →
This op-ed, co-authored with Professor Adam Dodek of the University of Ottawa, was published in the Ottawa Gazette on January 21, 2013 – http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/Outspoken+Onley+viceregal+model/7850156/story.html
Ontario’s lieutenant-governor explained in an extensive interview given to Martin Regg Cohn on January 13, 2013, why he agreed to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s controversial prorogation request and the sky has not fallen. In remarks earlier this month that so far have not attracted much attention outside of Toronto, Lt. Gov. David Onley justified his controversial decision in some detail. Our viceregal representative asserted that he defended the Constitution and its conventions by upholding the traditions of responsible government.
In speaking out about prorogation, the lieutenant-governor knew that he was breaking with recent tradition. We commend him for doing so. Read the rest of this entry →