Reflections from A Roundtable on the Development of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women


On February 6, 2016, Osgoode Hall Law School hosted a remarkable Roundtable to explore issues relating to the Federal Government’s recently announced Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. With the support of the Federal Government, and in particular the Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, over 40 experts participated in the Roundtable, representing Inquiry Commissioners, counsel, advocates, and participants, together with 40 observers from Government and volunteer Law Students. The insghts shared were compelling, challenging and constructive. Continue reading “Reflections from A Roundtable on the Development of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women”

Launching York University’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative

This past week, York University’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative was publicly launched with enthusiasm and energy. The launch includes a new website for the Initiative (which I encourage you to explore). The site has links to obtain more information on educational opportunities for students and community members, information on refugee sponsorship projects, student and other York Initiatives as well as links to each of York’s refugee sponsorship and fundraising teams. The site highlights the sustained engagement and impressive history of the Centre for Refugee Studies in responding to the global refugee crisis, as well as further advocacy and volunteer opportunities as we build toward future activities and projects. Continue reading “Launching York University’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative”

A Tale of Two Discretions: Trinity Western University and Kanthasamy

Two important Administrative Law decisions came down this month – one from the Supreme Court of Canada and one from the B.C. Supreme Court. Each engages the enduring and vexing question of how to understand the legal limits on discretionary decisions by those authorized by statute to apply their own independent judgment. In Kanthasamy, the Supreme Court quashed a decision by a humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) decision maker involving an application by a child for an exemption to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In Trinity Western University, the Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court weighed in on the ongoing saga of TWU’s attempt to establish a law school. The Court quashed a decision of the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) to deny admission of graduates of the TWU program based on the discriminatory nature of a covenant all students and staff must agree to be bound by. In each case (although the facts and circumstances were very different) the court overturned discretionary decisions because the decision-makers fettered their discretion and failed to consider all the relevant factors they should have. Looking a little more closely at each reveals something important about why we so often get discretion wrong.

Continue reading “A Tale of Two Discretions: Trinity Western University and Kanthasamy”

York Steps Up to respond to Global Refugee Crisis

As the Global Refugee Crisis deepens, particularly the exodus from Syria to uncertain European shores, it is moving to see so many quarters at York University stepping up to respond. I have focused on Osgoode’s initiatives and York’s collaboration with WUSC to provide support for refugees studying at York in a previous post, but here I wish to look more broadly at the University’s efforts. York is a large, vibrant and young University, with a particular focus on social inclusion and social innovation.

Continue reading “York Steps Up to respond to Global Refugee Crisis”

Osgoode’s Response to the Global Refugee Crisis

As the heart-wrenching images from Europe continue to shape the refugee debate in Canada (how many refugees should Canada take? How can the time-consuming process be expedited? What are the legal and social implications of these efforts? How will the new Trudeau Government make good on its ambitious campaign pledges?), the place of Universities has come to the fore. Ryerson University partnered with the NGO Lifeline Syria to create the Lifeline Syria Challenge which facilitates private sponsorships through the University and has established a target of raising funds for 25 families (with a minimum threshold of $27,000 each), in addition to volunteer efforts to support resettlement of those families in Toronto for a first year after arrival. The GTA’s other Universities, including York, have joined forces to support this initiative, in addition to pursuing others to bring more resources to supporting refugees (York, for example, working with World University Students of Canada (WUSC), plans to expand the tuition waivers and financial supports for refugees coming to the University to study as discussed in today’s Y-File story).

Continue reading “Osgoode’s Response to the Global Refugee Crisis”

The TRC Calls to Action & the pursuit of “Reconciliation”

This weekend, I participated in the Indigenous Bar Association’s annual Conference, this year themed around the pursuit of “Reconciliation” in the wake of the Indian Residential Schools’ Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. I was asked to share thoughts on what Reconciliation meant, both in the sphere of legal education and to me personally. The Conference was lively, thoughtful and hopeful and I hope its momentum continues to place Indigenous lawyers, law students, law reform activists and legal educators at the forefront of charting a way forward. Continue reading “The TRC Calls to Action & the pursuit of “Reconciliation””

Global Legal Education at the Crossroads


I had the privilege to attend and speak at a landmark conference on Global Legal Education held at Tsinghua University’s Faculty of Law in Beijing this past weekend (though admittedly an unusual place to spend Canadian Thanksgiving). The conference helped celebrate the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of Tsinghua’s Law School (now among China’s very best, and one of Osgoode’s newest global partners), and to mark a moment of significant reform in Chinese legal education, as well as disruption and change in many other jurisdictions. This led me to ask whether there is a distinctly Canadian approach to Global Legal Education? Continue reading “Global Legal Education at the Crossroads”

A Day with “FACL” & 10 Tips for New Lawyers

This Saturday, I was invited to speak at the annual Conference of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL), this year with the theme “Paving the Way.” Each year I attend, the gathering gets bigger, livelier and represents a snapshot of the legal profession’s vibrant future. In addition to participating on an engaging panel exploring the end of the first full year of the Law Practice Program (LPP), I was asked to join the final plenary panel ambitiously titled “60 tips in 60 minutes”! Six lawyers were asked each to offer 10 tips on how to serve clients better, manage practices more efficiently, develop business relationships, increase profile in an increasingly diverse profession, and ensure ethical compliance. I was joined by Ian Hu of LawPro; Phillip Tsui of MAG; Law Society Bencher Jeffrey Lem; Bindu Cudjoe, the Deputy General Counsel of BMO; and Lai-King Hum, National President of FACL and owner of her own firm. I understand the tips from the whole panel will be posted shortly on the FACL site and I found the tips from others invaluable, but in the meantime, in hopes these may be of interest to some who were not in the room, below are my ten tips on enriching personal and professional success for young lawyers. Continue reading “A Day with “FACL” & 10 Tips for New Lawyers”

Law School by Design

[this post was initially published on Slaw on September 22, 2015 as part of a blog series with the Canadian Council of Law Deans]

I am pleased to participate in this regular series of posts from the Council of Canadian Law Deans (CCLD) sharing insights and ideas on Canadian legal education. This past summer, I explored the impact of design principles on the justice system and since then, I have been reflecting more on the impact of design principles on Law Schools.

Has our legal education system developed as a series of ad hoc measures, policies and programs or has it been designed according to a plan? This question is being asked more broadly in Law Schools as legal academics and lawyers bring design principles to the question of where and how people access legal education, where and how people learn about law, and where and how people solve the problems that matter most in their lives. Whether the new Calgary Curriculum, the Integrated Practice Curriculum at Lakehead or McGill’s Transsystemic Legal Education, more Law Schools are differentiating their programs by design. Continue reading “Law School by Design”

Federalism, Pensions and the limits of Partisanship in Canada

[a version of this post was published by the Globe and Mail on August 10, 2015] Can the Federal and Provincial governments work together on policy matters on which they disagree? The answer in Canada is simple – they can and they must. This issue has come to a head around the  Ontario’s Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) proposal, which the Provincial Government has developed because it believes the Canada Pension Plan is inadequate, and which the Federal Government has stated it will not help administer through its existing Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) infrastructure . The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan will be phased in over two years and will be offered at companies without employee pension plans. Self-employed Ontarians also may be able to opt-in. Companies with sufficient retirement plans will be exempt, and the lowest-income earners will not be required to contribute. While the ORPP could be run entirely by Ontario, this would increase the cost and could decrease the effectiveness of the scheme.  The sniping of the Federal and Ontario Governments on this issue began shortly after its announcement, and will no doubt continue to intensify over the course of this unusually long Federal election campaign.  Continue reading “Federalism, Pensions and the limits of Partisanship in Canada”