Saturday, September 30, 2006

Expanded Coverage in SSRN's Law & Society Journal Offerings

The Social Science Research Network's Legal Scholarship Network has expanded its journal coverage in a number of areas:

  • International & Comparative Law
  • Private Law
  • Procedural Law, Courts
  • Public Law
  • The Legal Profession

SSRN's objective is to provide rapid, worldwide distribution of research. It allows authors to upload papers without charge. Any paper an author uploads to SSRN is downloadable for free, worldwide.

There is a Canadian Law section in the Legal Scholarship Network where one can find abstracts of completed works and works in progress that relate to Canadian law and to Commonwealth law of interest to Canadian scholars, as well as scholarship, regardless of subject area, by scholars at Canadian academic institutions.

Subscribing to topical abstract journals is easy.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:04 pm 0 comments links to this post

Federal Court Rules Amendment

The federal government has opened a 60-day consultation period about proposed amendments to the Federal Court Rules.

The proposed changes as well as the government's Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) were published last week in the Canada Gazette Part I. The RIAS outlines the rationale for the amendments, their benefits and costs, the consultation mechanism and provides contact information for the consultation.

The consultation period ends November 22, 2006.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Top 10 Uses for RSS in Law Firms (Or Law Libraries)

Steve Matthews, who writes the Vancouver Law Librarian Blog, has a post entitled Top 10 Uses for RSS in Law Firms.

Of course, most of it also applies to law libraries, courts, or law faculties.

Here is the list, but you will have to read Steve's post for the full details about each item:

  1. Current Awareness
  2. RSS for Marketing
  3. Vanity Feeds
  4. Internal Research Collections
  5. Client Press
  6. Feeding on Marketing Content for KM
  7. Case Law & Legislative Changes
  8. Aggregated Tagging
  9. RSS Republishing
  10. Feed Mixing & Filtering for Subject Collections
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

Federal Environmental Commissioner Report On Climate Change

The federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Johanne Gélinas released her annual report today. The document, tabled in the House of Commons, focuses on how well Canada has been tackling the challenge of climate change.

Not well, it would appear. From the press release:

"It is increasingly clear that Canada will not meet its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Report outlines reasons why. It says the federal government is not organized to manage its climate change initiatives effectively. Missing are mechanisms to coordinate activities across departments and to track spending and results for reporting to Canadians. It notes, too, that few federal efforts are underway to deal with the booming growth in the oil and gas sector."

"Looking to the future, the Commissioner urges the government to come up with a credible, realistic and clear plan with short- and long-term goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A prominent part of the government's plan should address the long-neglected need to help Canadians cope with the consequences of climate change."
Gélinas' position is part of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

More from the CBC and from Radio-Canada.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

RCMP Reaction to Arar Commission Report

This is a follow-up to the September 18, 2006 post entitled Arar Commission Report Presented to Parliament.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli apologized today to Maher Arar and said he accepts all the recommendations of a report criticizing the federal police force's role in Arar's deportation to Syria.

The deportation in 2002 was at the hands of U.S. authorities who relied on faulty information from Canada that the Syrian-born Canadian engineer was suspected of terrorism. Arar was tortured in Syria before being returning to Canada after one year in prison in the Middle Eastern country.

The statement was made at a meeting of the House of Commons committee on public safety and national security, which is studying the report of a public inquiry on the Arar case led by Justice Dennis O'Connor.

O'Connor criticized the RCMP for giving misleading information to the U.S. He also fully exonerated Arar of any wrongdoing and said he was falsely accused:

"I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada... Canadian investigators made extensive efforts to find any information that could implicate Mr. Arar in terrorist activities... The results speak for themselves: they found none."
For more information, see the CBC website.

The transcript of the meeting of the House of Commons committee should appear under the heading "Evidence" shortly.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What Do YOU Call A Law Blog in French?

There is an interesting little discussion happening over on the law blog of Frédéric Rolin about what exactly the proper French equivalent of "law blog" should be.

English. Simple: law blog or blawg. Sounds easy.

But in French?

Here are some of the suggestions by Rolin and by people who sent comments:


  • Give in to worldwide Anglo-Saxon linguistic imperialism and just call blawgs "blawgs" - Rolin does write that French blawgers who are on Technorati all seem to use the tag "blawg" (ha! vendus!)
  • bloig (blog + loi=law or statute)
  • juriblog - my favourite
  • blex
  • bleg
  • droig (from droit=law)
  • jurnal
  • drog (for those addicted to blogging)
  • the French government proposes "bloc-note"
  • juribloc
  • juriblocnote
  • blocloi
  • bloic
  • legiblog

And as one participant quipped: "I am totally reassured: lawyers will never be able to come to an agreement about the word!".

Thank God for that! If lawyers could ever agree on anything, I would be out of a job.

[Source: Stéphane Cottin's ServiceDoc Info blog, I mean blex, I mean jurilexblocjurdroig]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:41 pm 1 comments links to this post

Update to Monthly Newsletter on Law and Religion

There is an update to my March 12, 2006 post entitled Monthly Newsletter on Law and Religion.

Since mid-September, the online newsletter "La lettre du droit des religions" produced by Sébastien Lherbier-Levy in France has been merged with his Droit des religions website.

The most recent issue of the newsletter (Aug.-Sept. 2006) covers an interesting array of stories about reports, legislative proposals and court decisions in France and other countries and at the level of the European Court of Human Rights on topics such as religious cults, the wearing of religious symbols by public employees, the right of the media to print anti-religious caricatures or to broadcast documentaries criticizing practices of specific religious groups, etc.

Each issue also includes a bibliography of websites, and recent blog posts, journal articles and books.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Articles By Law Librarians in Legal Publications

The American Association of Law Libraries "Publishing Initiatives Caucus" has produced an interesting sampling of the articles that law librarians are writing and publishing in legal publications.

Some records contain a link to the full text of the article in question.

[Source: Law Librarian Blog]
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

U.S. Law Book Returned 143 Years Late

From the Law Librarian Blog:

"UPI is reporting that an 18th century law report volume, valued at $1,500, has been returned to the North Carolina Supreme Court 143 years after it was stolen (apparently by a Union soldier). The work, published in 1708, is "Report of Divers Cases in Pleas of the Crown Adjudged and Determined; in the Reign of King Charles II." There are two clues to the book's origin: (1) an unsigned inscription "Obtained in July 1865 at Raleigh, North Carolina," and (2) an inscription signed by Quentin Busbee, who served as the North Carolina Supreme Court reporter in 1853. Kudos to the librarians at Indiana University Library who tracked down the rightful owners after receiving the volume from an anonymous donor".
How high should the late fee for something like that be?
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

Federal Reports on Plans and Priorities Tabled in House of Commons

The Honourable John Baird, President of the Treasury Board, today tabled the 2006-2007 Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPP) in the House of Commons.

These documents contain details on projects and expenditure plans for dozens of federal government departments and agencies.

The RPP for the Supreme Court of Canada identifies the challenges faced by Canada's highest court:

"The challenges ... are numerous: a heavy workload, a dynamic technological environment, a heritage building and increased demands for access to the court. The Office of the Registrar will continue to utilize a strengthened risk management process and improved performance management framework to face these challenges and meet established goals. Key priorities for the coming year include the completion of the improvements required to the physical access to the building, the implementation of the Courtroom Audio Visual Information Technology project, and the full implementation of the Public Service Modernization Act".

Also of interest to legal researchers are the RPPs for:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 25, 2006

Online Criminals Increase Phishing Attacks

According to the most recent Internet Security Threat Report by Symantec, there has been a marked increase since the beginning of 2006 in the number of phishing attacks. The report found an 81% increase over the unique phishing messages that were detected in the last half of 2005.

Phishing involves the use of fraudulent e-mail messages made to look like they come from a legitimate source such as a financial institution in an attempt to get consumers to divulge personal data that can then be used for illegitimate purposes.

CNET News.com has more on the story.

Earlier Library Boy posts about phishing include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Congressional and Parliamentary Research Reports

Last week, LLRX.com published a feature article entitled CRS Reports that explained how to locate reports of the Congressional Research Service in the United States, or CRS.

The CRS is the non-partisan public policy research arm of the United States Congress but access to the material it produces can be difficult:

"Each year CRS produces almost 1,000 new products, and over 4,000 updated or revised reports, however only a small number of these are made available to the public on the Internet. Although CRS does maintain an intranet for CRS reports (CRS Web) this network is only accessible by members of Congress, Congressional committees, and CRS sister agencies (e.g. GAO). Members of the public requiring access to these reports have traditionally had to ask their Representative in Congress for paper copies to be mailed to them or have had to purchase them through a third party..."
Access to the publications of the Parliamentary Information and Research Service of the Library of Parliament in Canada is thankfully much easier.

One can:

Life is also easier for researchers in other countries. In the United Kingdom, parliamentary research papers are easy to find. The United Kingdom Parliament website has a list of House of Commons Library Research Papers going back to 1998.

The Parliament of Australia has brought together links to the various research and backgrounder publications of its Parliamentary Library. The Library also offers an RSS feed for updates.

Many French parliamentary research documents are available right on the Assemblée nationale website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:04 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sustainable Development Law Research Guide

The GlobaLex collection at the New York University Law School has just added a new research guide on sustainable development, certainly a topic of increasing interest in this age of urban sprawl, global warming, smog, and resource depletion.

"Historically, sustainable development law literature has often focused on environmental issues in developed countries. In the last several years, the field of Sustainable Development Law has shifted, to an integration of international economic, social, and environmental law with the goal of reducing poverty in developing nations. Still, one of the major issues in this area is whether 'sustainable development' is law, soft law, or policy".

The guide is divided into sections on Monographs, Treaties and Agreements, Journals, Academic Programs, Organizations and Websites, and Abbreviations.

2 of the organizations mentioned are Canadian:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:08 pm 1 comments links to this post

Friday, September 22, 2006

Global Information Industry Outlook 2007

Earlier this week, Outsell, Inc., a research firm based in California, released Information Industry Outlook: FutureFacts 2007, its "annual forecast of the trends and drivers fueling the information industry". People can download a free complimentary copy of the 40-page document.

The report predicts that the world-wide information industry will reach $458 billion (U.S.) in revenues by 2009, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4 percent from 2006-2009.

Outsell compiles its projections based on data gathered from over 6,000 industry firms. It also conducts interviews with corporate and other users.

The Legal, Tax & Regulatory segment of the industry accounted for 4% of the total in 2005 or $14.2 billion US in sales. The CAGR to 2009 will be 6.2%.

The Big 3 - Thomson, Wolters Kluwer and LexisNexis (Reed Elsevier) - dominate the segment with a combined market share of 59%. They also all have a higher growth rate than average as they consolidate through merger activities and branch out by moving into providing workflow tools like practice management, litigation management, automated billing, e-filing and electronic document assembly.

The report identifies a few rising stars in legal information as well as key trends in the sector:

  • more globalization through acquisitions and partnerships
  • the development of more specialized and finely-sliced practice-oriented sources to respond to more lawyers attempting to differentiate their services
  • the rise of self-help information products that allow citizens to bypass traditional legal publishers
  • growth through the development of workflow applications (Thomson Elite, Litigator, LexisNexis automated court filing)
  • the spread of embedded legal compliance tools in the financial sector which has to respond to increasingly rigorous regulatory requirements

Here is what the report had to say about the other segments of the industry:

  • Search, Aggregation and Syndication (10% of the industry) will boom, with a CAGR of 17.3% to 2009. This is the world of Google, AOL, Yahoo! and MSN. Google is described as "the new Starbucks. It continues to expand in every direction, with new launches and beta experiments cropping up all the time, akin to Starbucks opening five stores somewhere in the world everyday". Rising new stars: Baidu, described as "China's Google" and Ask.com, but traditional aggregators Factiva and LexisNexis also continue to occupy strong enterprise niches
  • News Providers and Publishers has the largest share of total revenue, at 37% of the worldwide information industry. However, it will have a CAGR of only 1% to 2009. In this segment, no company has more than 5% market share, the major players being News Corp., Gannett, Tribune Co., Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan) and Asahi Shimbun (Japan). Interesting trends here include News Corp.'s $580 million US purchase of MySpace, the rise of news site Topix, jointly owned by Tribune and Gannett, and the emergence of local city sites that allow people to set up blogs, join groups and comment on news. But overall, traditional publishers are losing market share: Google, Yahoo! and other search engines now offer aggregated news and traditional news revenue streams are being eaten up by online job sites, online bookstores and eBay
  • Education and Training (11% of the industry) is the 2nd largest segment. The big players (Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Harcourt, Scholastic, and Thomson Learning) make up one third of the segment. Rising stars include testing service Kaplan as well as a number of curriculum developers
  • Market Research (7% of the industry) is dominated by custom research firms and consumer panel measurement boutiques. Examples: IMS Health. Trends: there is immense pressure to provide "real-time" market data and this means that GPS, RFID, sensor and scanner technologies are going to be huge
  • Credit and Financial Information (9% of the marketplace) is the world of Reuters, Bloomberg, Moody's and Standard & Poor's, all growing at double-digit rates. Thomson Financial is also present with its investment and wealth management offerings. Key trends: the integration of capital markets necessitates the development of multi-regional analytics and local language solutions. Another trend is the increased need for data for regulatory compliance and the demand for reliable credit information because of concerns over fraud risk
  • The Scientific, Technical and Medical segment (5% of the market) is a "mature market" according to the report and is starting to face competition from the Search, Aggregation and Syndication segment. A large part of STM growth was through M&A activity. Major players are Reed Elsevier, Thomson, Wolters Kluwer and Springer. Rising stars: IHS, Nature Publishing Groups, CSA. Key trends: international expansion into Asia, hot growth in "rich data" sets (seismic data, maps). Growth will be driven by geophysical and energy information
  • Trade Publishing (6% of the market) had below-average growth. As well, Directories (9% of the total) will have a tiny CAGR to 2009 of only 2.3%
  • IT Research is a tiny slice of the industry dominated by Gartner and IDC
  • HR Information is also one of the smallest segments but it will have a CAGR of 14.2% up to 2009. The online recruitment services of Monster and CareerBuilder (joint venture of Tribune Co., Knight Ridder and Gannett) are major players. Key trends include products about compensation and benefits as well as "candidate identification" (personal information for headhunters and recruiters about potential candidates) and background checks

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, September 21, 2006

List of All Federal Reports To Parliament

In a few earlier Library Boy posts, I described some of the reports that examine, audit and help control the operations of the Canadian government:

  • Canadian Government Audit and Evaluation Reports (Sept. 5, 2006): "Several hundred records of findings are added to the database each year, including information from evaluations, audits, manager-led reviews, self- assessments and continuous performance measurement systems. This information is always being updated".
  • Government Accountability Resources (August 28, 2006): "Of course, we all know the Office of the Auditor-General of Canada that regularly provides detailed information on the financial administration of the government of Canada. (...) In the Canadian federal sector, departments and agencies also have to submit Departmental Performance Reports to the Treasury Board Secretariat. They of course also file annual reports to Parliament".

The parliamentary website features the complete List of Reports and Returns that government departments must table in the House of Commons.

As the Explanatory Note indicates:

"The List of Reports and Returns brings together in one convenient location the reports and other documents that must be tabled in the House of Commons under federal legislation in force on April 3, 2006. The List does not indicate whether a particular document has been tabled in a timely manner. It simply identifies the document until Parliament has repealed the statutory provision that requires it to be tabled. Most of the documents are to be filed by a minister. The List of Reports and Returns sets out each minister in alphabetical order based on how the minister is identified in the statutory provision that requires the report to be tabled...

...we have also included documents that are to be tabled by parliamentary committees and various House officials, including the Speaker."

These reports can frequently be wonderful sources for background material, analyses, topical bibliographies, lists of statutes on specific subjects, etc.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tracking Consultations On Proposed Federal Regulations

As part of its official Regulatory Policy, the federal government must consult interested groups before regulations are passed.

Proposed regulations are "pre-published" in Part I of the Canada Gazette to allow stakeholders time to comment before the final version is enacted and published in Part II.

The Canada Gazette website offers a list of current consultations about proposed regulations.

For each proposal, one can find the proposed regulatory text as well as the official "regulatory impact analysis statement", or RIAS, prepared by the sponsoring agency.

The RIAS can be quite interesting as it may contain the official reasoning behind the regulatory proposal, the examination of any possible alternatives as well as an analysis of costs and benefits of various options for government action. Are you thinking "legislative history on a silver platter"? So am I.

The federal government also maintains a Consulting with Canadians website that allows visitors to search for current consultations by title, subject or department.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:07 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Newest Issue of WorldLII News Available

The most recent issue of WorldLII News is available online.

WorldLII News is the regular news update from the World Legal Information Institute, an independent and non-profit global legal research alliance developed collaboratively by the Cornell Legal Information Institute, the Canadian Legal Information Institute, the Australian Legal Information Institute and others.

This newest issue contains information about new and/or updated free legal databases that are part of the WorldLII collection.

The new/updated material comes from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkmenistan, Bulgaria, Croatia and Venezuela.

There is a web page with archives as well as subscription information (it is free).

Earlier Library Boy posts about WorldLII include:
  • WorldLII Special Project Resources (June 2, 2006): this post describes some of the special database projects at WorldLII, including the Privacy Law Library, the International Courts & Tribunals Project, the Law Journals Project, and the Domain Name Decisions Project
  • Grey Literature Week at Slaw.ca (August 9, 2006): this post mentions the WorldLII Law Reform Project that aims to make searchable from one location all of the databases on law reform available on any of the Legal Information Institutes that are part of WorldLII. The databases currently included are from the law commissions of Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Papua New Guinea and England

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Library: Early September Acquisitions

The list of new titles in the Supreme Court of Canada Library collection for the first half of September 2006 is now available.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loans to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the monthly list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Recent Library of Parliament Publications

This is an update to the Library Boy post of July 18, 2006 entitled Updates to Library of Parliament Summaries.

Here are some recent studies and legislative summaries prepared by the Library of Parliament's Research Service. I may have missed some back in July.
  • Civilian Oversight of the RCMP's National Security Functions (11 January 2006) : "Following (the September 11, 2001 attacks), Parliament passed the Anti-terrorism Act. This statute enacted the Charities Registration (Security Information) Act and amended 20 other laws. By defining terrorist support as a criminal offence, it changed the RCMP’s role and provided an opportunity for the organization to be more involved in matters of national security. Further, the RCMP is to receive $576 million in funding over six years under the Public Security and Anti-terrorism funding package. Although Parliament expanded the role of the RCMP, it did not subject its national security functions to comprehensive civilian oversight. This has created a disparity between the review mechanisms for CSIS and the RCMP, whereby the RCMP is subject to less rigorous scrutiny"
  • Substance Abuse Issues and Public Policy in Canada: I. Canada's Federal Drug Strategy (13 April 2006): "Canada’s Drug Strategy (CDS) is a key initiative coordinated by the federal government which addresses the harmful effects (including health, social, safety and economic consequences) of substance use and abuse on individuals, families, and communities. Numerous partners including federal departments, provincial and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations, professional associations and international agencies are collaborating on the CDS. This paper will briefly outline the history of the CDS, provide information on its four key pillars and present the highlights of recent federal activities in support of the strategy".
  • Substance Abuse Issues and Public Policy in Canada: II. Parliamentary Action (1987-2005) (13 April 2006): "This brief paper will outline key parliamentary actions undertaken since the creation of Canada’s first drug strategy in 1987. The focus is on committee activities and government legislation rather than on numerous private Members’ bills and initiatives".
  • Substance Abuse Issues and Public Policy in Canada: III. What, When, Who and Why? (20 April 2006): "Given the range of perspectives and the multidisciplinary group of people involved, there are as many definitions of substance abuse as there are theories on the origins of this phenomenon and how best to address it. The very choice of words used to define or describe a particular behaviour or human condition is often influenced by sociocultural considerations and may be based on ethical and moral judgments. In order to discuss policies and issues related to the use and abuse of psychoactive substances, it is first necessary to understand the concepts. As part of a series of short papers on substance abuse issues and public policy in Canada, this paper aims to provide a better understanding by defining what psychoactive substances are and what substance abuse is, as well as clarifying the terms dependence and misuse. In addition, the paper identifies particular population groups at risk of using and abusing psychoactive substances and briefly discusses the question of why some people become dependent on psychoactive substances".
  • The Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations (4 May 2006): "This document deals with Parliament’s attempt to strike a balance between effective protection of pharmaceutical inventions, in order to stimulate research and development (R&D), and keeping the cost of medicines down. Specifically, it examines the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations (the Regulations), which, along with the Patent Act, attempt to achieve that balance by allowing the generic version of a medicine to be marketed once the patent for the original medicine expires. However, the Regulations have been interpreted literally, and such stalling tactics as evergreening – which lead to delays in the marketing of certain generic medicines – have jeopardized the effectiveness of this system".
  • Bill C-7: An Act to amend the National Defence Act (13 June 2006): "In general, the bill is a response to the recommendations made by the Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, the former Chief Justice of Canada, in his 2003 report (Lamer Report). Essentially, the amendments set out in the bill clarify the amendments introduced in 1998 by Bill C-25 and make substantial improvements to the military justice system. While that system is made more consistent with the system established in the Criminal Code, the bill, overall, also recognizes the unique nature of the military system, in order to provide the degree of flexibility that is needed for maintaining discipline. As well, the bill enhances the effectiveness of the military justice system and provides for the major players in that system, in particular military judges and the Director of Defence Counsel Services, to be more independent and impartial".
  • Bill C-16: An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (29 June 2006): "The bill amends the Canada Elections Act to bring in fixed election dates at the federal level in Canada. It provides that, subject to an earlier dissolution of Parliament, a general election must be held on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year following polling day for the last general election, with the first general election after the bill comes into force to be held on Monday, 19 October 2009".
  • Official Languages in the Public Service: From 1973 to the Present (10 August 2006): "In 1969, following through on recommendations made in the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Canada’s Parliament passed the first Official Languages Act. The Act recognized French and English as the official languages of all federal institutions in Canada, but it did not explicitly grant public servants the right, under certain conditions, to work in the official language of their choice. A number of measures have been adopted since 1973 to foster respect for the official languages within the public service. This report summarizes the evolving status of official languages in the public service over the past 30 years, with an emphasis on the change in culture that is required for true bilingualism within the Government of Canada".
  • Bill C-2: The Federal Accountability Act (28 August 2006): "Bill C-2, An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability (the Federal Accountability Act) was given first reading in the House of Commons on 11 April 2006. The bill makes a series of amendments to existing legislation and proposes two new Acts, in diverse areas that are generally linked to political accountability. The bill’s short title, the Federal Accountability Act, is the name under which it became known as part of the Conservative Party of Canada’s platform in the January 2006 election campaign" - this is a revised edition of a research paper produced in April 2006

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

Finding the Best of the Biblioblogosphere

For the past few months, I have been trying to follow the Carnival of the Infosciences, "a weekly weblog post that endeavors to showcase the best posts in the blogosphere about topics related to the wide world of Library and Information Science."

One can subscribe to Carnival RSS feed.

I just recently became aware of another source for the best of. It is called This Week in LibraryBlogLand. The most recent instalment is for September 18, 2006.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:58 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Edition of McGill Guide to Legal Citation

The McGill Law Journal recently completed the latest (6th) edition of its famous Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, also known as the McGill Guide or "that red book behind the reference desk with all the abbreviations in it" as the law clerks call it.

The Guide is the accepted authority on citation of legal materials. Canadian courts, legal periodicals, law faculties and lawyers rely on the Guide to maintain a uniform system of legal citation.

The newest edition includes new material pertaining to the following matters:
  • the neutral citation should apparently now come first in the list of parallel citations
  • material has been added dealing with electronic journals
  • there is updated information on citation to electronic databases
  • there are more abbreviations in the appendix (more court levels, more journal titles etc.)
  • a new section has been added for American courts
  • there is a section on international criminal tribunals
  • and much, much more
At the law firm library job I had before being hired by the Supreme Court, I was the "legal citation guy". 2 or 3 times a year, I held a seminar for articling and summer students on the general rules and some of the finer points of legal citation.

At first, I usually explained that proper legal citation was necessary to provide information about a case (parties, dates, court level, etc.) and help the reader retrieve that case. Then I would go into the details (comma here, italics there, bracketed dates here, dates in parentheses there, parallel citations somewhere or other). Very boring. People's eyes glazed over. I am sure some even fell asleep.

So, I developed a more Machiavellian, yet efficient technique to keep their attention: fear.

In the first minute or so of the presentation, I would report in my most serious tone of voice that senior partners at the firm were complaining that students and younger lawyers were making too many mistakes when it came to legal citation. Partners could no longer find and check many of the cases when reading some of the memos produced by juniors, and there could be "serious (but unspecified) consequences"!

Somewhat of an exaggeration, perhaps, but it ensured I had everyone's unflagging attention for the full hour. I have never since seen a bunch of people so fascinated by the more intricate details of punctuation and letter-spacing.

But I digress.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 18, 2006

Arar Commission Report Presented to Parliament

The federal commission of inquiry into the Arar Affair delivered its much awaited report to the Canadian Parliament today.

In September 2002, Syrian-born Canadian engineer Maher Arar was vacationing with his wife and two small children in Tunisia. On Sept. 26 while in transit at JFK airport, he was detained by US officials and interrogated about alleged links to al-Qaeda. Twelve days later, he was shackled, thrown into a private plane and sent to Jordan and from there transferred to a Syrian prison. Arar spent a year in Syria where he faced abuse and torture.

The commission's mandate was to investigate the role Canadian officials may have played in these events.

Arar is considered a high profile victim of the U.S. policy called extraordinary rendition under which terrorism suspects are secretly sent to dictatorships where they can be interrogated under torture beyond the reach of any human rights laws or judicial protections.

Commissioner Dennis O’Connor concluded that there is no evidence Arar was ever connected to terrorism or was ever a security threat to Canada.
"I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada... Canadian investigators made extensive efforts to find any information that could implicate Mr. Arar in terrorist activities... The results speak for themselves: they found none."
It would appear that inexperienced Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigators wrongly provided Americans with inaccurate evidence. American officials apparently relied on that erroneous Mountie information in their decision to send Arar to Syria to face imprisonment and torture. There is no evidence Canadian officials participated in the deportation decision.

There will be a second report of the Commission at the end of the year containing recommendations related to the creation of an independent arm’s-length review mechanism for the RCMP’s national security activities.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has news coverage as well as an in-depth file on the Arar story.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Canadian Parliament Back in Session - How To Keep Up

They're back!

The House of Commons resumes sitting on Monday, September 18, 2006.

I have posted on this before: the Library of Parliament LEGISinfo service will allow people to track bills, follow parliamentary debates, gain access to background documents and additional reading material on legislative proposals, find voting information as well as up-to-date details about the coming into force of bills that are passed by the 2 Houses of the federal Parliament.

As well, it is possible to track bills via RSS feeds:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:41 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, September 15, 2006

US and Canadian Supreme Court Transcripts

The beSpacific blog pointed yesterday to a press release from the United States Supreme Court that explains that our neighbour's highest court "will make the transcripts of oral arguments available free to the public on its Web site (...) on the same day an argument is heard by the Court." This is to start in the October 2006 Term.

Currently, transcripts are posted to the Court website some two weeks after arguments are heard. People wanting access to transcripts more quickly must purchase them from a commercial service.

Here at the Supreme Court of Canada, courtroom proceedings are televised by the Canadian Parliamentary Affairs Channel (CPAC). CPAC posts its schedule at its site: http://www.cpac.ca. To obtain a copy of a written transcript, people may call the Court Registry at (613) 996-8666. To obtain a copy of a video for personal use, call International Duplication Services Inc. at (613) 761-7777. There are costs involved.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Are You Ready For Naked Reference?

There is the Naked Chef. The Naked City, the Naked Truth and the Naked Gun.

Of course, we also have Canadian group extraordinaire, the Barenaked Ladies. And Bif Naked, Canadian punk rock goddess.

And then there is Naked News (it is exactly what the name says but you will have to track down the link yourself, sorry).

And who hasn't read Naked Lunch in college to prove to everyone else just how cool you are?

Well, get ready for Naked Reference as explained on Blogs about Libraries:
"(...) the truth is that a sedentary, passive library service setting, wherein staff wait for questions and/or do other things until a patron approaches us runs the risk of sending exactly those kinds of messages. There is simply no way around that- either you are aware of your surroundings and are looking for engagement, or you are not.

So, with this in mind, I have deemed September 'Naked Reference Month' in my department. The idea is that all public desk staff will leave everything behind when they work at our desk. No food, no bookcarts, no stacks of journals to read. Nothing. Nada. Zilch."
The comments section includes quite a number of contradictory opinions about what kind of behaviour, look, or attitude will attract people to the reference desk. To be followed...

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Banned Books Week - USA 2006

The American Libraries Association website has posted lots of interesting material in anticipation of the upcoming Banned Books Week in the United States.

It will be held September 23–30, 2006 and is intended to support the values of intellectual freedom.

It "celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them".

Google Book Search has also created a special page about banned books:

"To Kill a Mockingbird. Of Mice and Men. The Great Gatsby. 1984. It's hard to imagine a world without these extraordinary literary classics, but every year there are hundreds of attempts to remove great books from libraries and schools. In fact, according to the American Library Association, 42 of 100 books recognized by the Radcliffe Publishing Course as the best novels of the 20th century have been challenged or banned."

In Canada, various organizations associated with the book trades mark the Freedom to Read Week every year. The next time will be February 25–March 3, 2007.

One of the resources produced by the sponsors of the week is a list that provides information on more than 100 books that have been challenged in Canada in the past few years. Most challenges have to do with sex, homosexuality, religion or race.

Tags: censorship

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:07 pm 0 comments links to this post

The Great Wikipedia/Traditional Encyclopedia Debate: Another Episode

The Wall Street Journal features an online discussion between Jimmy Wales, the founder of the collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia, that can be edited by anyone, and Dale Hoiberg, editor in chief of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.
"Wikipedia, the community-edited online encyclopedia, has blossomed. It has thousands of volunteers that have created more than five million entries in dozens of languages on everything from the Elfin-woods warbler to Paris Hilton. But the popular site has also been dogged by vandals and questions about its accuracy (...) A recent study in the journal Nature, however, found few differences in accuracy between science entries in Wikipedia and the venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica (...) At a gathering of Wikipedia contributors last month, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales urged them to put more emphasis on quality instead of quantity. In a bid to battle vandalism, the German version of the site is testing a new feature that will let administrators flag versions of articles as 'nonvandalized,' and those are the pages that will be shown to most visitors. Can Wikipedia's everyone's-an-editor approach produce a reliable resource tool without scholarly oversight? Are traditional encyclopedias like Britannica limited by lack of input?"
Earlier Library Boy posts on the credibility of Wikipedia:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:50 pm 0 comments links to this post

International Law: 100 Ways it Shapes Our Lives

As part of its 100th anniversary celebration, the American Society of International Law has identified 100 very concrete and specific ways in which international law affects each one of us in daily life. The organization is American, but most examples apply to Canada as well.

"We did endeavor to identify ways in a range of contexts, from daily life, to leisure and travel, to commerce, to health and the environment, personal liberty, and public safety and situations of armed conflict. Some ways are of relatively recent vintage, while others are long-standing..."

"In addition to the individual experts and members who suggested ways, sources used to find or confirm ways included: EISIL, the Society’s Electronic Information System for International Law (www.eisil.org); the Encyclopedia of Public International Law, by the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, under the direction of Rudolf Bernhardt; the UN publication, 'Sixty Ways the United Nations Makes a Difference,' and the respective UN, international, or government institutions with responsibility for the international law, agreement, or activity described."
The 100 ways are here.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Newest Issue of Global Legal Monitor

The August 2006 issue of the Global Legal Monitor is available.

The Monitor is a publication of the Law Library of Congress that provides regular updates on legal developments from around the world.

"This online publication will be updated frequently, drawing upon information selected from the Global Legal Information Network, official national legal publications, and reliable press sources. Occasionally, a special section may be added to include lectures, conferences, symposia, and exhibits on timely legal topics sponsored by the Law Library of Congress."

The August issue covers issues from "Attorneys and Judges" to "Trade and Commerce", and countries and organizations from the African Union to the World Trade Organization.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 11, 2006

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Acquisitions List

Every month, we publish a list of material added to the Supreme Court of Canada Library collection. This is list for August 2006.

The page does say: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loans to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the monthly list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:22 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New Look for French Law Blog Directory

Juriblogs, a directory of French language law-related blogs, has a new look.

Also see my October 20, 2005 post Directories of French Law-Related Blogs which mentions the blog list on the Droit francophone international law portal.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, September 08, 2006

Yale Law Journal on the Future of Legal Scholarship

The September 2006 issue of the Pocket Part, the online companion to the Yale Law Journal, features a series of papers about the future of legal scholarship.

The papers discuss the challenges that the Internet and public blogs can pose to scholarly debate:
  • A Blog Supreme, by Christopher A. Bracey: "... those in the academic vanguard appreciate online scholarship, first and foremost, as an organic contribution to the world of ideas, and perhaps secondarily, if at all, as a commentary or critique of prevailing modes of scholarship. Although online scholarship takes shape within and against prevailing modes of scholarly production, it has developed, like jazz, into a distinctive idiom of intellectual engagement with its own cultural aesthetic, norms, and the like. And like jazz, it retains a certain mystery and mystique that proves compelling to proponents and confounding to its critics. In this Essay, I relate the work of free and avant-garde jazz artists to the work of online legal scholars. I employ this jazz metaphor to advance a deeper understanding of online scholarship and its relationship to conventional modes of scholarship and the scholarly enterprise in general."
  • Law Reviews, the Internet, and Preventing and Correcting Errors, by Eugene Volokh: "Law reviews work hard to prevent and correct errors. They exert prodigious cite-checking, editing, and proofreading efforts to make sure their articles are as error-free as possible. They also try to prevent errors by readers: they publish articles aimed at correcting existing errors, and they edit articles with an eye toward eliminating misleading statements that might unintentionally lead readers into error. Yet new technologies can let law reviews do more to prevent and correct errors, without a vast amount of extra work."
  • Let the Law Journal Be the Law Journal and the Blog Be the Blog, by Ann Althouse: "Law journals, distinguished by depth of scholarship and dedication to detailed and accurate support and citation, occupy a unique niche within the legal profession, and to preserve this important tradition may take all the energy you law students have. You are now seeing some glittering things luring you away from this difficult and worthy path. Law professors seem to be amusing themselves endlessly with their high-flying blogs and their experimental new vlogs and their hoary old e-mail lists. And you may have arrived at the Journal with a heavy Internet habit and perhaps even ace web-designing and programming skills. Yet nothing you can do in the form of transitory innovation can begin to compare to the sacred trust that has been handed to you by the generations of law journal devotees who have preceded you."
  • Online Legal Scholarship: The Medium and the Message, by Jack Balkin: "On July 13, 2006, my fellow blogger, Marty Lederman, sent me a copy of a proposed surveillance bill drafted by Senator Arlen Specter’s office. For months, Marty and I had been covering the controversy over the National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic surveillance program on our group blog, Balkinization. We argued repeatedly that the NSA program was illegal (...) Within a few days, reporters began portraying the bill quite differently. Responding to mounting media criticism, Senator Specter defended his bill on the editorial page of the Washington Post (...) But it was clear that somebody had read what we were writing, and by process of osmosis, our arguments had reached congressional staffers and journalists who covered the NSA controversy. Hence Congresswoman Harman’s remarkable decision to reach a particular policy audience by blogging on our site. The NSA controversy continues. We have no idea how it will end. But blogging by legal experts has intervened in the debate in a new way, helping to inform not only the public but also the mainstream media and key players about complicated issues."
  • The Long Tail of Legal Scholarship, by Paul L. Caron: "Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, has attracted enormous attention since its publication in July 2006. His insight is that technology and the Internet have transformed the focus of America’s culture and economy. Whereas pre-Internet firms turned out a small number of 'hits' or blockbuster products (the 'head' of the demand curve), today’s Internet-era firms offer a broader range of niche products (the 'tail'). This Essay argues that the long tail theory can help both explain the current state of legal scholarship and chart its future."
  • That’s So Six Months Ago: Challenges to Student Scholarship in the Age of Blogging, by Stephen I. Vladeck: "The days of the case note—and of student scholarship focusing on current developments in the law more generally—may well be numbered. With the proliferation of 'legal development' blogs (...), rare indeed is the important legal development that goes unnoticed in its immediate aftermath. The debate over the viability and utility of such instant legal commentary notwithstanding, it is beyond question that law blogs have accelerated the pace at which we learn about new issues in the law. But at what cost?"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Court Challenges Program Challenged?

Newspapers of the CanWest Global chain distributed a Janice Tibbetts article today that claims that the federal government may be considering the elimination of the Court Challenges Program as part of an overall review of government programs.

The Program provides funding to help minority, women's and other disadvantaged groups so they can launch "test court cases" challenging laws that may violate equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The CanWest News Service article entitled Funding for minority groups to challenge federal laws under review reports that the program, first set up under former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, "has been the target of harsh criticism from social conservatives and critics of so-called judicial activism, who assert the initiative is a slush-fund for left-leaning groups to circumvent the will of elected legislators by challenging them in court".

The article continues:

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, Ian Brodie, was among the most vocal critics of the Charter Challenges Program in his 2002 book Friends of the Court: The Privileging of Interest Group Litigants in Canada. It was written when he was a political science professor at University of Western Ontario (...) Justice Minister Vic Toews recently denounced the program for its lack of accountability because it is not publicly disclosed which groups receive money or how much they get".

At its annual general meeting last month in St.John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian Bar Association - a long-time supporter of the Program - "urge[d] the federal government to support the continuation of the Court Challenges Program and to increase its funding in order to ensure its long-term financial stability".

The Program's 2004-2005 Annual Report is available online.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:12 pm 2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

World Bank Doing Business Law Library

The World Bank has created Doing Business, a database of economic and regulatory indicators that are comparable across 175 economies.

The site includes a Law Library, "the largest free online collection of business laws and regulations".

For each country, one can find laws on such topics as banking and credit, bankruptcy, companies, labour, securities, taxation and trade.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Law Library Journal Articles

We have just received Law Library Journal vol. 98, no. 3 (Summer 2006) at the Supreme Court of Canada library.

Among the articles that caught my attention:
  • Scaling the Tower of Babel Fish: An Analysis of the Machine Translation of Legal Information: "Ms. [Sarah] Yates evaluates the accuracy of Babel Fish in translating legal information by comparing Babel Fish translations of law-oriented texts in Spanish and German to professional translations. Most contained severe errors that altered the meaning. She concludes that Babel Fish is not appropriate for most uses in law libraries".
  • Exploring the Court of Arbitration for Sport: "The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), recognized as an emerging leader in international sports dispute resolution, was created specifically to address sports-related matters. Since its formation, the CAS has addressed a wide range of sports-related issues, including matters pertaining to the positive drug tests of athletes, the challenges to technical decisions of officials made during competition, and the eligibility of athletes to compete in the Olympic Games. Of significance, CAS awards have been recognized as developing a lex sportiva, that is, a set of guiding principles and rules in international sports law".
  • Practicing Reference... A Blog’s Life: "Seeking to provide a current awareness service to an underserved part of her library’s clientele, Ms. [Mary] Whisner enters the world of blogging and discovers that there is both joy and learning to be had in bringing a blog to life".
  • The Annual Performance Evaluation: Necessary Evil or Golden Opportunity?: "Death, taxes, and the annual performance evaluation commonly appear as topics on top ten lists of unpleasant but inevitable life experiences. While death and taxes may truly be inevitable, something can be done to make the performance evaluation a positive experience for both law library managers and those they supervise".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:44 pm 1 comments links to this post

Dealing with the "Meta Menace"

The most recent issue of The Lawyer's Weekly (vol. 26, no. 17) has an article entitled The meta menace: what you can't see could come back to haunt you which discusses the many problems that can arise when legal professionals forget to clean up the metadata embedded into computer files before distributing documents.

Metadata can include changes made, names of previous document authors, document revisions and versions, and hidden text.

"Problems can arise if law firms send files to clients or opposing counsel that still contains markup. It may as well be hard copy full of sticky notes. Consequences may include a compromised bargaining position and violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Laws governing metadata are still in their infancy, but early precedents permit tech-savvy counsellors to freely read any metadata they find, much as they would a forgotten sticky".

Earlier Library Boy posts on potential problems with metadata include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:19 pm 1 comments links to this post

Resource Guide on International Health Law

GlobaLex, an electronic legal collection run by the Hauser Global Law School Program at New York University School of Law, recently published a Research Guide on International Health Law.

"While globalization has facilitated world trade and economic growth, it has also enabled regional epidemics to spread at unprecedented speed worldwide. A chilling example is the SARS epidemic, which started in China and quickly spread to two dozen countries. This research guide provides information about the general trends in global diseases and legal efforts against them, effects on trade and human rights law, and legal research in the new field of international health law. A selected bibliography is available at the end of this research guide".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:07 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Canadian Government Audit and Evaluation Reports

This is a follow-up to last week's August 28, 2006 post entitled Government Accountability Resources that looked at some of the sources for performance and accountability reports that public agencies are required to produce for different governments around the world.

In addition to the other Canadian sources I mentioned, in Canada, the Treasury Board Secretariat maintains an Audit and Evaluation Database that includes departmental and government performance reports as well as other audits of government activities.

"Several hundred records of findings are added to the database each year, including information from evaluations, audits, manager-led reviews, self- assessments and continuous performance measurement systems. This information is always being updated".

One can find the latest reports, or browse by department, Treasury Board policy area (e.g. capital plans, HR, information management, compensation, etc.), by areas of expertise relevant to particular parliamentary committees, or by government "strategic outcome". There is also a keyword search.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labour Day Resources

Happy Labour Day!

In the spirit of this annual celebration of the rights of labour, here are a few interesting labour law and labour news resources:
  • NATLEX is the database of national labour, social security and related human rights legislation maintained by the International Labour Organization (ILO). There are some 55,000 records covering over 170 countries and territories. The ILO also maintains a trade union freedom cases database. There are 3 active cases based on complaints from Canadian trade unions.
  • The Law Commission of Canada has looked at how vulnerable workers are increasingly left out by Canadian labour laws: "People experience vulnerability in many ways: through inadequate pay, unhealthy or dangerous working conditions, insufficient hours, exploitative atmospheres, lack of benefits, the inability to effect change, powerlessness and marginalization. In this paper, the Law Commission begins with a study of different types of vulnerability at work and then discusses how ideas about labour regulation have changed".
  • The Canadian Policy Research Networks, a think tank founded in 1994 by Judith Maxwell, the last Chair of the Economic Council of Canada, runs many research projects, including the Work Network. Its research priorities include vulnerable workers, job quality and continuous learning.
  • For labour news, there is Labour Start which offers a news syndication service from mainstream, trade union, and alternative news sources.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, September 02, 2006

CIPPIC Internet Policy Clinic Newsletter

CIPPIC, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic based at the University of Ottawa, just released its Summer 2006 bulletin.

This new issue covers the Clinic's many activities over the past few months, including advocacy on data protection and digital rights management issues, and provides updates on its many research projects on copyright law reform, identity theft, privacy, spyware and online contracts.

More in-depth information about the projects can be found on CIPPIC's website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:02 pm 0 comments links to this post