Law

  • LGBTQ AT TWU

    As a Trinity Western University grad and member of the LGBTQ community, contributor Matthew Wigmore urges caution about seeing tomorrow Supreme Court hearing strictly as a legal fight over religious freedom. 

    Can religious freedom claims be taken seriously if the claimant is responsible for discrimination? In light of Trinity Western University’s ongoing battle for a law school, the question should effect c...

    Read more...

  • Defending Trinity’s Right To Exist

    Tomorrow’s Supreme Court of Canada’s hearing on Trinity Western University should engage all Canadians confronted by the State’s chipping away at fundamental Charter rights, warns alumnus Evan Menzies.

    Off Metcalfe Street and MacLaren in Ottawa, sits the century old J.R. Booth mansion which now houses the Laurentian Leadership Centre. It runs and operates an internship program for Trinity Western, the private Christ...

    Read more...

  • Trinity Western Wishes

    Tomorrow, Prime Minister Trudeau offers an unprecedented apology to persecuted members of sexual minorities. On Thursday, Trinity Western University is before the Supreme Court of Canada arguing for its religious freedom. Having previously presented TWU's perspective, Convivium asks lawyers Mark Berlin and Douglas Judson about sexual politics and the law.  

    Mark Berlin wishes Trinity Western University well in its bid to establish a law school at the evangelical Christian institution in B.C.’s Fraser Valley.

    He also wishes TWU’s Community Covenant didn’t bar him f...

    Read more...

  • Lessons in Political Cooperation

    Cardus Law Program Director Dr. Andrew Bennett reflects on the way the House of Commons justice committee dealt with Bill C-51. 

    OTTAWA - Sometimes Parliament works just the way the textbooks say it’s supposed to work. Arguably, the most recent example is in the way the House of Commons justice committee dealt with Bill C-51, which aims to erase “outdated” parts of the Criminal Code....

    Read more...

  • Simply About Freedom

    In the past two weeks, Ottawa lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos has argued the case for conscience rights of doctors, and won a major freedom of information legal battle over publicizing statistics about abortion. Convivium Publisher Peter Stockland sat down with him to discuss the cases.

    Convivium: You’ve just argued for Ontario doctors conscience rights, and were part of the group that forced Ontario to release statistics on abortion. How are the issues linked?

    Albertos Polizogopoulos: Both have to ...

    Read more...

  • The Canon's Answer

    Convivium’s publication of David Goa’s review of “The Slow Professor, Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy” by Maggie Berg and Barbara K.Seeber sparked lively debate among our readers. The most eloquent were from university students engaged in various degree levels and programs of study.

    Convivium’s publication of David Goa’s review of “The Slow Professor, Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy” by Maggie Berg and Barbara K.Seeber sparked lively debate among our...

    Read more...

  • Thinking About Law

    Although Cardus has been attentive to legal issues for years, this week marks the launch of a formal research program called Cardus Law. Convivium sat down the Executive Director Ray Pennings and program director Andrew Bennett to find out how will seek to raise the bar on public understanding of law in Canada. 

    Convivium: Why is Cardus launching a research area involving law? What does Cardus have to do  with the law?

    Ray Pennings: Cardus Law has been an informal, or what we call a laboratory program, for a couple of years and really, when you think about t...

    Read more...

  • Defending a Foundational Freedom

    Andrew Bennett, Canada’s former Ambassador for Religious Freedom and now Cardus Senior Fellow, argues for the need to recognise the foundational nature of freedom of religion and conscience in our society and its link to our common life.  

    If we are to share a common life in Canada, freedom of religion and conscience must be foundational. It is the freedom  that enables us to live fully as we are, and as we are called to be. It bears witness to the truth that  human beings have a metaphysical...

    Read more...

  • Gun Control: Right Trumps Rights

    “The NRA has achieved its victories not by threats of insurrection but through the classic methods of democracy: debate, dialogue, lobbying and electioneering. Its source of strength lies not in the weapons its members own or carry, but in the votes they cast and the arguments they make,” he adds.

    David Cole makes a convincing case, worth bearing in mind as the presidential race erupts, that American gun violence is at heart a function of democracy at its best. “The NRA may ...

    Read more...

  • ‘Inclusion’ to the Exclusion of Religious Freedom

    It’s worth, though, heeding the emerging voices warning us that freedom’s loss is as much, perhaps even more, a function of shifts in language almost too subtle for timely detection. In an exclusive interview with the Catholic Register, Canada’s former Ambassador for Religious Freedom – and now most welcome new colleague at Cardus – noted that his former bailiwick has been recast by the Liberal government into a muddle called the Office of Freedom, Human Rights and Inclusion.

    We’ve become habituated to associating loss of freedom with decisive, often violent, acts.

    It’s worth, though, heeding the emerging voices warning us that freedom’s loss is as much, perhaps even more, a function of shifts in language almost too subtl...

    Read more...

  • Which NDP will introduce the "Act to End Predatory Lending"?

    The idea is sound. As noted in a recent report by Cardus, Banking on the Margins, payday lenders and the loans themselves are structured in such a way as to encourage their customers to become dependent. The loans, while quick and easy, do not build credit, and they require customers to pay back the original amount borrowed plus substantial interest in one lump sum. Too often this results in adding a significant deluge of spending for people who are already struggling to maintain a responsible cash-flow. An unemployed construction worker from Fort McMurray who has trouble making ends meet one week can be crippled by the automatic withdrawal of his previous week’s shortage plus interest rates that, in Alberta at an annual rate of 839% on a ten-day term, are the second highest in the country. And, as our research suggests, the struggle doesn’t stay with the individual. The lack of funds and the increase in debt are linked to mounting costs to families, significant physical and mental health problems, increased criminal activity, and a host of other problems which ultimately strain society – and often the government.

    In the throne speech this month, Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell announced the Notley government’s intention to “protect Albertans who are experiencing economic d...

    Read more...

  • Changing Politics for a Changed Country

    Saying “government should not” is as simplistic as saying “government should” if there is nothing else that follows. Yes, conservatives believe in limited government. But this requires more than arithmetic requiring the size of government. What government should do, it should do well and enough resources need to be dedicated to those tasks.

    Co-authored by Michael Van Pelt (President), and Ray Pennings (Executive Vice-President) of Cardus, a Canadian think ta...

    Read more...

  • Misreading Carter

    In its report released in December, the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group On Physician-Assisted Dying recommends that assisted suicide and euthanasia be publicly funded and available for the non-terminally ill, the mentally ill, and for minors. The “declaration” the Report is referring to is the Court’s declaration that certain Criminal Code provisions “are of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease, or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.” .

    Written by John Sikkema (CLF Associate Counsel), and Derek Ross (CLF Executive Director).

    In its report released in December, the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group On Physician-Assisted Dying recommends that assisted suicide and e...

    Read more...

  • Immune to Embarrassment

    Stunning, indeed preposterous, as those words might seem to someone freshly arrived to the issue, the truly appalling part is that they come as no surprise at all to those of us who’ve been around it for a while.

    The federal government has yet to introduce medical suicide legislation and already we are witnessing the next convulsion in the culture of death. It’s in the form of the debate, newly arisen this week, over whether 12-year-olds should be euthanized in secr...

    Read more...

  • A Balance of Rights

    Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin once wrote that "a multicultural, multireligious society can only work if people of all groups understand and tolerate each other." But when one party's rights start to bump up against another's in that society...

    Read more...

  • Mr. Pennings Goes to Ottawa

    As for the Senate, well, why go there?

    Democracy, we're told, is in deep trouble in Canada. On Parliament Hill, some male MPs stand accused of sexually harassing—possibly even assaulting—their female peers. Off the Hill, a veteran MP is convicted of flouting laws on electoral spending. Even poli...

    Read more...

  • A Truly Bizarre Lapse

    The Court's decision to invalidate the existing law against assisted suicide opens the door for a powerful political response from Parliament. That is potentially good because Parliament has voted six times since 1993 to reject legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia. One of the government of Canada's arguments before the Supreme Court was that Parliament has spoken on the issue. The Court's response was that it wants Parliament to speak again. This time, It wants Parliament to answer with a new law that at least allows doctors to assist in the suicide of those suffering from "grievous and irremediable medical conditions" such that failing to help them commit suicide would deprive them of the Charter's sec. 7 rights to life, liberty and security of the person. Gerry Chipeur, who represented the Christian Legal Fellowship as an intervenor before the Court, said the language used in the judgement lends itself to the tightest possible interpretation, and the crafting of a law that makes assisted suicide available in only the most extreme cases. "It could justify a law which would apply only to people who can't use their hands," Chipeur told Cardus following Friday's judgement. "As a constitutional lawyer, based on the language of this judgement, I'd say it's possible to write a law so tight that there might be 12 people in Canada who would qualify." Chipeur said the 12 months granted by the Court to Parliament for the writing of the new law could actually be a godsend for individuals and groups who oppose assisted suicide. It gives them time to focus, mobilize, and lobby for the most restrictive language possible—and also gives them a clear benchmark for the absolute minimum allowable under the Charter. Given that Justice Minister Peter MacKay said outside the Commons that the Harper government will take its time crafting any new legislation, vital opponents of assisted suicide can start working now to come up with rigorous language of their own to recommend to MPs who will be drafting and voting on the bill, Chipeur said.   The Court took full notice of conscience rights in the decision. A major good is the decision's clear, strong language that goes a long way, on paper at least, toward protecting those who would refuse to participate in doctor-assisted suicide for reasons of conscience or religious belief. "In our view, nothing in (the decision) would compel physicians to provide assistance in dying. The (decision) simply renders the criminal prohibition invalid." Indeed, the Court noted it was asked by the Canadian Medical Association to direct Parliament to build conscience protection into any new law. It declined to give that direction, saying "what follows (the decision) is in the hands of physicians' colleges, Parliament and the provincial legislatures." Again, that gives those concerned with conscience rights full field to press at the political level for guarantees in any new legislation. The CMA itself has said it considers that providing doctor-assisted suicide is an individual decision. Only a minority of its members say they would participate in an assisted suicide. Conscience protection combined with a scarcity of practitioners and an extremely high qualifying standard to receive the "treatment" could render the number of assisted suicides in Canada negligible.   The Court has slammed the door on provinces using health care—and any provincial jurisdictional claim—as a pretext to circumvent the federal Criminal Code. The third potential good may seem like a consolation prize, and a highly technical one at that. But it has significant and immediate implications for Quebec's Bill 52, which legalized doctor-assisted death in the province a year before the Supreme Court's decision and in defiance of Canadian criminal law. During the Court hearing, Quebec argued that its share of jurisdiction over health care gives it the power to legalize assisted suicide regardless of any laws that Canada has on the federal books. It was the second time Quebec has tried to advance the same argument in a Supreme Court case under the pretext of a constitutional principle called interjurisdictional immunity. The nine justices reminded the province quite sharply that it had already been told once the claim is a non-starter. It doesn't mean Quebec's Bill 52 is automatically invalid. It does mean it may have to be re-written to conform to the stringencies of any new federal law. It also means that in terms of federal criminal law at least, Parliamentary supremacy still has some clout.   There will be some form of assisted suicide available in Canada within the next 13 months. That is obviously a bad thing if you believe that the State should be in the business of protecting human life until the natural end of life. It's bad if you believe assisted suicide to be a polysyllabic euphemism for killing. It's bad if you believe that Canada's publicly-funded health care system is no place for the deliberate killing of human beings. The composite worst of all three bad things was the logic by which nine justices of the Supreme Court of Canada accepted that a) the State must limit its protection of human life, b) that killing is acceptable with the right provisos, and c) that the health care system is a perfectly acceptable place for such killing to take place. In essence, the justices agreed that assisted suicide is legitimate because it allows the person to die later than he or she might have otherwise. People with progressive illnesses might feel such despair at what they perceive as their fate that they will take their own lives Tuesday absent the possibility of an appointment to have someone else kill them Wednesday. The logic is equivalent to saying that hangings should always take place in the evening lest the victim hangs himself in the morning and lose 12 sweet hours of life. As a bald proposition it could easily be dismissed as the fever dream of a lunatic. But it's not. It now has the imprimatur of the supremely intelligent, highly accomplished, all-but-omnipotent nine justices of Canada's highest court. No matter how many Canadians are ultimately killed through assisted suicide, something fundamental died on Friday, February 6, 2015. It was legal reasoning tempered by reality.   It's entirely possible assisted suicides will take place in the absence of any law. This is the ugly prospect that few seem to fully recognize in the aftermath of the decision. It stems from the media-fed mistake that the Supreme Court decision struck down a law against doctor-assisted suicide. It didn't. As the Court itself said, it "simply render(ed) the criminal prohibition invalid." And the existing criminal prohibition says nothing about physician assisted suicide. It says that "everyone"—and that is critical to keep in mind—who aids or abets a person to commit suicide is guilty of an indictable offence. Everyone. Doctors, yes, but also butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. The judgement directs Parliament to find a way to carve out an exemption for doctors. In a truly bizarre lapse, it never actually makes the case for why doctors particularly should be the ones to assist in suicides. After all, killing is antithetical to medical care. And the reality is, most general practitioners in this country receive far less training in ending life than veterinarians do. So, the folks who know less about induced dying than the person who gives Fluffy the Cat the final needle are now to be put in charge of grandma's lethal dose? It does give pause. But even with proper training and specialization, why doctors? Why not husbands, wives, and public hangmen? The Court does not say. And that is truly frightening because it compounds its counter-intuitive assumption about doctors with a truly perilous assumption that Parliament will certainly pass a law and enact a regulatory regime in the next year. The experience of abortion in this country shows the assumption to be fraught with terrible disregard for history and political reality. Doctors perform abortions in this country today largely because there was a medical regime governing abortion in place prior to the Supreme Court striking down Canada's abortion law in 1988. Subsequently, we have been at an utter political impasse over any way to regulate abortion. The last attempt, under a Progressive Conservative majority government, died on a tie vote in a deeply divided Parliament. We are, as many have noted, literally lawless on abortion, and have been for 27 years. There is no existing medical regime for assisted suicide. If Parliament fails to enact a new law within a year, we won't have doctor assisted suicide. We won't have a law governing assisted suicide. If recent history is a guide, we genuinely risk never having one. Enter the butcher and the public hangman. Enter the barbarians. That makes this decision, potentially at least, one of the ugliest moments in Canadian history.  

    Terrible as the Supreme Court's judgement on doctor-assisted suicide will be for many overall, there are at least three good potential outcomes to it. Of course, there are also at least two things—one bad, one very ugly—that could come of it as well.

    ...

    Read more...

  • Nova Scotia and TWU FAQ

    On January 28, Justice Jamie S. Campbell of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled the Barrister’s Society (NSBS) was acting outside its jurisdiction and violated religious freedom as set out in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Last year, the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society said it would not allow graduates of a planned law school at Trinity Western University to practice law in the province unless TWU dropped its community covenant obliging students to refrain from sexual relatio...

    Read more...

  • Christian Lawyers and Doctors Need Not Apply

    In 2014, lawyers and doctors were targeted by their own professional associations for direct attack because of their religious beliefs. For Christian lawyers, the first salvo was fired at Trinity Western University’s law school. TWU, which exists to “develop godly Christian leaders” in a variety of marketplaces, requires its students and staff to sign a Community Covenant.

    It has become a scary time to be a Christian professional in Canada.

    In 2014, lawyers and doctors were targeted by their own professional associations for direct attack because of their religious beliefs.

    ...

    Read more...

  • Transparency for the Common Good

    This cliché is often splashed across social media feeds, encouraging the faithful to take a stand for what is right. But a defensive attitude can also encourage believers to invoke religious liberty on its own merit. "The difficulty with ... an 'opaque' claim to religious liberty is that it allows those who oppose the claim to paint over it their own motivations and their own understanding of the motivations of believers, and to characterize that exercise of religious liberty as if there's something nefarious or untoward behind it, like a motive to discriminate or a motive to oppress. So I think it's important for people of faith to make 'transparent' claims," said MacLeod. "In fact, we're asking for the liberty to do good things in the public, to serve our neighbours, and to obey conscience: duty to something higher than ourselves."

    "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

    This cliché is often splashed across social media feeds, encouraging the faithful to take a stand for what is right. But a defensive attitude can also encourage believers to invoke religio...

    Read more...

  • The Core of the Euthanasia Clash

    While the so-called Carter case was argued on the merits of discovering in the Canadian constitution a right to what might be called concierge service suicide, the heart of the discussion was really the balance of power between the courts and Canada's Parliament. All constitutional cases, by their nature, engage that balance in differing ways, particularly when they involve the sections of the Charter of Rights dealing with security of the person and equality rights. Yet Wednesday's forensic test match on euthanasia touched a tipping point that may have been brushed against only 26 years ago in the Morgentaler case on abortion; perhaps not even then. One is the steadfastness with which the government of Stephen Harper has insisted it will not re-open legislative debate on legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide. The government insists Parliament has amply declared itself on the issue by voting repeatedly, emphatically and across party lines to keep the current laws on the books. Indeed, MP Francine Lalonde's last attempt was voted down 228-59 before it could even pass second reading in the House of Commons.

    This week's Supreme Court hearing on euthanasia was about life and death, of course, but it is equally about a powerful clash of institutions.

    While the so-called Carter case was argued on the merits of discovering in the Canadian constitution a righ...

    Read more...