Monday, October 30, 2006

Update on Canadian Internet Surveillance Proposals

University of Ottawa law prof and Toronto Star columnist Michael Geist has published a piece about the state of the federal government's lawful access initiative.

The idea behind lawful access is to provide Canada law enforcement with new, more sophisticated electronic surveillance tools to prevent and fight organized crime, money laundering and terrorist activities.

Geist analyzes various internal government documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act that show how authorities are attempting to deal with the initial negative public reaction to the proposals to expand police powers.

Lawful access legislation had been introduced under the former Liberal government but died on the order paper. It is not sure what the current minority Conservative government is planning.

Further material on lawful access includes:
  • Telecommunications and Lawful Access: I. The Legislative Situation in Canada (Library of Parliament, February 21, 2006): " 'Lawful access' is an investigative technique used by law enforcement agencies and national security agencies that involves intercepting communications and seizing information (during a search) where authorized by law. Canada, unlike other countries, suffers from a legislative void in this area in the context of new communications technologies. This paper, the first of two on the subject, analyzes the main elements of Bill C-74, the proposed Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act (MITA), which was tabled in mid-November 2005, only to die on the Order Paper two weeks later. The issue is important because this bill was the first legislative measure designed to update lawful access provisions in Canada, it was the culmination of an extensive consultation process, and many of its elements could serve as the basis for future legislative provisions on the matter. The second paper examines the legislative situation in other countries."
  • Telecommunications and Lawful Access: II. The Legislative Situation in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (Library of Parliament, February 28, 2006): "Bill C-74 was intended as a key step in the harmonization of legislation at the international level, specifically with regard to the interception capability of telecommunications service providers (...) The present document compares Bill C-74 with similar legislation in these three countries. Major differences and similarities are highlighted, with particular reference to the two aspects covered in the Canadian bill: interception capability, and requests for information about subscribers to telecommunications services."
  • Lawful Access - Canadian government proposals for updating criminal laws and facilitating law enforcement in the electronic age (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, webpage updated June 8, 2006): "CIPPIC is working with other groups and individuals concerned about increasing government surveillance to assess and respond to the Canadian government's 'lawful access' proposals. This webpage explains what's behind the proposals, the most significant of the proposals from a civil liberties/privacy perspective, and what you can do about them."
  • Canadian Bar Association Worried About ISP Surveillance (July 8, 2006): "The Canadian Bar Association appears concerned that Internet service providers have been putting into place the technical capacity to monitor their customers' communications without proper authorization."

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

What Law Librarians Think of Students' Research Skills

Connie Crosby wrote an article in the October 2006 issue of the Law Student e-Monthly (CCH) in which Law Librarians Debate Student Research Skills.

Excerpt:

"Teaching efficient legal research has become very complicated. 'Our training is much longer than it used to be,' says Laurel Murdoch, Librarian at Heenan Blaikie in Toronto. 'Students in large firms are shocked at what we cover in the legal research session when they begin their summers or articles. One of our summer students told me that he was going to send a letter to the dean of his law school asking why, given the high cost of law school tuition, he had not been better prepared for what the practicing bar expects'."

(...)

"Neil Campbell, Law Librarian, Associate University Librarian, and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Victoria, confirms Murdoch's assertions: 'This debate has been going on for a long time and I'm not sure there is an easy answer. The root of the problem in Canada is the historical split between professional legal education and academic legal training. The law schools generally do not see it as their responsibility to train practicing lawyers, so the research instruction is geared to success in law school.' In his courses, Campbell tries to remain sensitive to the legal research skills students will need after school, with a bias towards traditional firm practice. He uses 'practice based instructional materials and a lot of classroom exercises' which he hopes fill the gap to some extent, but he admits, 'I don't pretend that they will not have to relearn some skills or learn new ones when they leave university'. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

Coming Upgrades to Justice Canada's Consolidated Statutes

According to a recent article entitled Justice Department upgrade to ease legislative changes on the ITBusiness.ca website, Justice Canada "signed a service agreement for seven years (four years, plus a three-year option) with Irosoft to maintain and develop modules for its Legislative Information Management System(LIMS). LIMS is a suite of applications from various vendors that includes a legislative drafting environment, an automated act and regulation consolidation environment, a dissemination environment, an intranet, a Web site and a system for printing acts and regulations".

One of the many modernization projects that Irosoft, a Montreal-based firm, will be leading will involve helping Justice Canada develop and deploy a point-in-time module that will allow the public to determine the text of a federal law or regulation at a specific point in time, all for free.

As the president of the company is quoted as saying: "If you kill somebody today and you’re arrested 20 years from now, it’s the legislation that’s enforced now that will be used for your case."

That's usually not what most of us are thinking about when we ask for historical versions of legislation, but given the horribly irritating weather lately in this part of Canada, you just never know - the information may come in handy one day.

I just love software guys and their turns of phrase.

[Source - a post by Dominique Jaar on Slaw.ca]

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

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Search Engine for Library Blogs

LisZen is a new customized search engine that searches the content of more than 500 library-related blogs.

The links to the blogs were taken from LISWiki and then imported into Google Co-op, a tool that allows for the customized searching.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Free Online Seminar on Screencasting

The SirsiDynix Institute is holding a free web seminar on screencasting on November 8, 2006.

Screencasting is "a movie of your computer screen that records everything displayed on the screen as you demonstrate a procedure, along with your voice, if you wish. The recording is saved to a file for later playback".

The presenter, Paul R. Pival (MLS, SUNY Buffalo), is the Distance Education Librarian at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and the author of the weblog, The Distant Librarian.

For more on screencasting, you may want to have a look at a new blog created recently by well-known reference librarian and search expert Greg Notess called LibCasting: Screencasting and libraries.

The archive of earlier SirsiDynix Institute presentations is available online.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 27, 2006

Annual Report of the Courts Administration Service

The third annual report of the Courts Admistration Service (CAS) was tabled in the Canadian House of Commons today.

The CAS provides registry, judicial, and integrated services to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada and the Tax Court of Canada.

The report focuses, among other things, on the modernization of the federal court system, involving the implementation of electronic document filing, digital recording and the creation of an electronic courtroom environment.

Other usual reports on the operations of the CAS include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Top Online Research Tools

CNET News compiled a list of Top 10 Research Tools last week.

"It's easy to suffer from information overload when the world's data is at your fingertips. What you need are tools that help you home in on the most relevant facts and organize them. We've rounded up (in random order) some great services that help you go straight to expert sources and keep track of your research. These digital tools can keep you on track--whether you're working on a middle-school science fair, wrapping up a graduate degree, or pursuing a hobby."

The list includes many Google products as should not be surprising.

As well, people may want to have a look at the New York Times Newsroom Navigator, which is a list of search tools used by the staff of The New York Times newsroom.

Canadian investigative journalist Julian Sher has created a website called JournalismNet that contains links to all the search tools you could ever want. The site is updated regularly and one can subscribe via RSS or e-mail for updates.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fallout from the Khawaja Anti-Terrorism Law Ruling

As many people already know, Justice Douglas Rutherford of Ontario Superior Court has ruled that a section of Canada's anti-terrorism legislation that seeks to define "terrorism" violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The ruling was in the case of Mohammad Momin Khawaja, who was arrested in 2004 in connection with an alleged terrorist plot in the United Kingdom.

The part of the law that was struck down deals with the motivational dimension of the definition of terrorism under the legislation. The part that was declared unconstitutional stated that a terrorist act was one carried out or planned out of ideological, religious or political motivations.

You can read the full-text of the decision on the website of the Globe and Mail.

For a discussion of what the ruling means, see:

The Justice Canada website has a section devoted to the parliamentary review of the Anti-terrorism Act. The Act, when passed in 2001, included a provision that called for a review within a number of years by committees of parliament. The CBC has a special web section on the legislation.

Earlier this week, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (House of Commons) came out with its 3rd (interim) report in its examination of the legislation.

Conservative and Liberal members of the committee want a 5-year extension of the provisions of the Act that allow preventive arrests and investigative hearings for material witnesses in terror cases. They argue that there are sufficient protections for civil liberties in the legislation and in court practices. Preventive arrest allows the arrest without a warrant of any person if police believe this is necessary to prevent the commission of a terrorist activity. These powers have never been used since the Act came into force.

Bloc Québécois and New Democratic Party members issued a minority report, urging the immediate end to the preventive arrest components of the law. They drew attention to the widespread abuses committed when the now repealed War Measures Act was invoked in 1970 during the FLQ October crisis in Montreal that saw the arrest of hundreds of people without charge or trial.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Acquisitions

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of October 1-15, 2006 is now available on the Court website.

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 list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Recent Conference Materials Available: Library Assessment, Access 2006, Internet Librarian

Material and presentations from 3 recent conferences are available online:
  • Library Assessment Conference (Association of Research Libraries, Sept. 25-27, 2006, Charlottesville, Virginia): "The conference focus is on practical assessment that can be used to improve library service, and includes sessions on customer surveys, focus groups, learning outcomes, organizational climate surveys, performance metrics, evaluating electronic services and resources, and related marketing and management issues." (from the Conference Program)
  • Capitalizing on Access (Ottawa, October 11-14, 2006): "The conference is an eclectic group of technically savvy people who get together every year to share fresh challenges, projects and solutions related to advances in information and library communities (...) Common touchstones at the conference include: customized web applications and search interfaces; open source software; national and provincial consortiae initiatives; information policy; digital media; library catalogue innovations; end user searching behaviours; metadata."
  • Internet Librarian 2006 (Monterey, California, October 23-25, 2006): Connie Crosby has provided links to blogs about the event, to the conference wiki and to a Flickr photo gallery.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 23, 2006

Library 2.0 Roundup

Jennifer Macaulay, a student in the Master of Library Science program at Southern Connecticut State University, has begun compiling a growing list of "Library 2.0" resources.

The list refers to posts from major (and less major) bloggers on the topic, articles, wikis, and some blogs devoted specifically to covering the Library 2.0 phenomenon.

Earlier Library Boy posts on Library 2.0 include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

Online Tribute to OCLC Founder and Library Pioneer Frederick Kilgour

Next Tuesday, October 31, 2006, there will be a tribute to Frederick G. Kilgour, the librarian who founded OCLC in 1967.

Kilgour, a pioneer of library automation and the creator of the planet's largest online catalogue Worldcat, died this summer.

"The program will include remarks by William Crowe, member of the OCLC Board of Trustees; Ernie Ingles, President, OCLC Members Council; José Marie Griffiths, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Marilee Chinnici-Zuercher, Mayor of the City of Dublin; and Jay Jordan, President and CEO, OCLC. There will also be video tributes from library leaders in Taiwan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, and video excerpts of interviews with Mr. Kilgour".

The webcast of the event will be available on the OCLC website as of October 31st.

See also the Library Boy post of August 2, 2006 entitled The "Patron Saints" of Our Profession:
"We don’t often celebrate the 'patron saints' of our profession, the people who laid the intellectual foundations of what we do everyday. Panizzi, Dewey, Cutter, Lubetzky, Ranganathan, Garfield, Vannevar Bush, Vincent Cerf. And Kilgour.When you stop to think of it, we would be drowning in one huge mess had it not been for our predecessors who came up with the rules for cataloguing, the field of citation analysis, the logic of hypertext or the structure for OCLC."

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

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Canadians Can Only Salivate at U.S. FirstGovSearch

When it comes to searching Canadian government websites, we have this disappointing tool.

In that Republic to the South of our borders, they have the very cool clustering technology of FirstGov Search, which, according to ResourceShelf, has now become even better with search capability for news and images.

Users can choose to search government websites, just news, or just images. Using Advanced Search, it is also possible to limit a search to federal sites or to a specific state. Within a News search, one can limit the search to news from a specific U.S. government source.

Depending on the search, results may be sorted by topic, agency, or source, or by type such as FAQs, forms, and podcasts.

For a general overview of what the FirstGov search engine has to offer, there is an LLRX.com introduction from Feb. 2006 entitled The Government Domain: FirstGov becomes First in Government Search

A very versatile tool. In many ways, significantly ahead of what the Canadian federal government has produced.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

World Usability Day 2006

World Usability Day 2006 will be held on November 14 this year.

The Usability Professionals Association, the sponsor of the international event, wants to promote "the value of usability engineering and user-centered design and the belief that every user has the responsibility to ask for things that work better".

There will be 2 events here in Ottawa:
  • an eGovernment Showcase where representatives from various public sector bodies will "share their experiences on researching the human factor and designing products, systems and services"
  • a Usability Exhibition by "local usability, accessibility, and user experience practitioners working in the private and public sectors plus academia"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 20, 2006

International Dispute Resolution Blog

A new blog about international dispute resolution has recently appeared: Open Discourse, the creation of Los Angeles-based Erin E. Gleason.

Gleason describes herself as a "specialist in conflict resolution with an emphasis on international policy and procedure" and holds an L.L.M. in international dispute resolution from the Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California.

One thing I learned from her blog is that yesterday was International Conflict Resolution Day.

In an earlier Library Boy post (August 11, 2006), I mentioned the World Directory of Alternative Dispute Resolution Blogs.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Library of Parliament Reports Recently Made Public

Among the reports by the Parliamentary Information and Research Service that the Library of Parliament recently made public are:
  • Municipalities, the Constitution and the Canadian Federal System (May 2006): "The following historical overview discusses the place of municipalities in the Canadian federal system with a particular emphasis on various attempts to gain constitutional recognition for municipal governments."
  • Making the Most of Parliament - Report on a Roundtable Discussion for Members of the 39th Parliament (May 2006): "Making the Most of Parliament is the third in a series of discussions addressing the institution of Parliament. The preceding two were entitled The Parliament We Want: Parliamentarians’ Views on Parliamentary Reform (2003) and Strategies for Effective Members in an Effective Parliament (2005). (...) This latest session, open to all parliamentarians, was organized by the Library of Parliament in cooperation with the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. Those who attended heard very interesting presentations by former Members of Parliament from four different parties (...) The Library of Parliament is pleased to make this report on the Roundtable available to a wider audience. A copy of the complete transcript is also available from the Library."
  • The Parliament We Want (December 2003): "Our country deserves a Parliament geared to the 21st century. Canada and Canadians have changed dramatically over the course of the last century and a half. By comparison, our parliamentary institutions have not kept up with the pace of change. Today, Canadians rightly expect a democracy founded on the needs of the times, and the message has been received loud and clear. Every political party represented in Parliament has, in one way or another, expressed its support for democratic renewal and parliamentary reform. As Parliamentarians weigh various proposals for change, we thought it valuable to canvas the ideas of the men and women who serve in Parliament about the kind of Parliament they want. They brought their experience to bear and talked with passion and conviction about modernizing the institution that is at the very centre of our federal democratic system. As reform becomes imminent, we thought it useful to sketch out where it is that Parliamentarians want to go."
  • Strategies for Effective Members in an Effective Parliament (June 2005): "During the first five months of the 38th Parliament, the Library of Parliament, in collaboration with the Parliamentary Centre, offered a series of seminars specifically tailored to the needs of the 107 newly elected Members of Parliament. This project was part of the Library’s approach to assisting new MPs to develop their skills as parliamentarians and serve their constituents and all Canadians."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Online NAFTA Research Guide

GlobaLex, the international and foreign law website published by the Hauser Global Law School Program at the New York University School of Law, has just added a new research guide entitled Basic Info and Online Sources for NAFTA and CAFTA Research

It was written by Francisco A. Avalos, Foreign and International Law Librarian and Maureen Garmon, Faculty Services Librarian at the Law Library, Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.

The guide provides background information on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central American Free Trade Agreement, as well as links to primary and secondary materials: texts, side agreements, institutions created by the agreements, dispute settlement mechanisms and implementation acts.

In addition, a range of web resources are provided, including research guides, government sites, online newsletters and journals and reports.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

Presentations From Government Information Conference Available

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post Government of Canada Information Management Conference from August 27, 2006.

The presentations from the Government of Canada IM Conference 2006 (Oct. 2-3, at the Ottawa Congress Centre) are now available on the website of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat:
  • IM Policy Renewal
  • IM for Corporate Administrative Shared Services: An Enterprise-Wide Perspective
  • Leveraging Web 2.0 in the Government of Canada
  • Desktop Access to Electronic Information in the GC: Opportunities and Challenges
  • Breaking Down Barriers: Information Sharing During Pandemics and Emergencies
  • The Gomery Inquiry: The Information Challenge
  • An Enterprise Content Management Strategy for the Government of Canada
  • Identity Management and its Relationship to IM
  • The United States Experience with Duty to Document
  • Experiences with Information Architecture in the Government of Canada
  • Sharing Information: Copyright and Licensing Under Open Source or Creative Commons Models
  • Beyond Production: Applying the Principles of Knowledge Transfer and Exchange to Maximize Impact
  • Building Capacity Within an Organization – a Case Study from CIDA
  • Access to Canadian Geospatial Data: Perspectives on Fees, Access, Standardization and Consistency
  • Small Agencies and Information Management
  • Information Management Software Solutions – Enabling Government of Canada Business

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

RSS Tutorial For Law Librarians

Jason Eiseman, librarian with the law firm Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt in the Pacific Northwest of the United States (offices in Oregon and Washington State), has put together this tutorial on RSS:
  • Part 1 introduces RSS as a concept. This tutorial discusses why RSS is important, and looks at an RSS feed.
  • Part 2 deals with how to set up an RSS aggregator and subscribe to RSS feeds.
  • Part 3 goes over specific tools that law librarians can use to set up RSS feeds which might benefit their libraries.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:10 pm 1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Canadian Human Rights Commission Report on National Security

A recent report entitled National Security and Human Rights Concerns in Canada was published this week on the website of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Written by Wesley Mark, Associate Professor at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, the document surveys a number of critical issues that involve the proper balance or trade-off between national security imperatives and human rights concerns:

"Implicitly, it assumes that a democratic, pluralist society requires both national security and human rights in equal measures and hesitates to sacrifice either, except in extraordinary circumstances and in the face of demonstrable need. The objective is to try to identify current and potential points of friction between national security practices and human rights protection in Canada. As a fear of the future is the defining characteristic of the national security and human rights environment in Canada, it is particularly important that we understand the historical context and present circumstances in order to ready ourselves to face this future. New security institutions, policies and practices are, in many respects, too new to allow us to fully gauge their impact at this stage. When it comes to human rights concerns, Canadians wrestle with the implications of new laws and new practices, without the benefit of a clear sense of how far they have already shaped, or will shape, our rights environment. In other words, the dilemma does not concern a clearly established pattern of human rights abuses or discriminatory practices that can be documented in the present; the dilemma lies in what the future might hold. "

"The eight issue areas examined include:

  • The evolution of national security policy in Canada since September 11, 2001
  • New legislative measures
  • The application of pre-September 11 powers
  • Key federal government agencies in the national security domain
  • Measures of accountability and review of national security agencies
  • Federal government responsibility and capacity to protect Canadians abroad
  • International liaisons in national security work
  • The role of the Canadian Human Rights Commission in fostering knowledge"

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

Library Journal Podcast Series Begins

Library Journal recently launched its Open Libraries podcast series hosted by the publication's technology editor Jay Datema.

In the first episode in the series, authors of the Fall 2006 netConnect supplement discuss "Library 2.0" trends.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

Anniversary of the Famous Five Trial Making Women "Persons" in Canada

On October 18, 1929, the Judicial Committee of England's Privy Council, which was the highest court of appeal for Canada at the time, ruled unanimously that the meaning of the word "persons" in Section 24 of the British North America Act of 1867 included women.

To put it bluntly, on that day, Canadian women were legally recognized as "persons".

The Status of Women Canada website has a history of the Famous 5 case:

"In 1927 Emily Murphy and four other prominent Canadian women - Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards - asked the Supreme Court of Canada to answer the question, 'Does the word person in Section 24 of the B.N.A. Act include female persons?' After five weeks of debate and argument the Supreme Court of Canada decided that the word 'person' did not include women. The five women, nicknamed 'The Famous Five', were shocked by the Supreme Court decision but did not give up the fight. Instead they refused to accept the decision and took the Persons Case to the Privy Council... On October 18, 1929, Lord Sankey, Lord Chancellor of the Privy council, announced the decision of the five Lords. The decision stated 'that the exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word 'person' should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?'."

Library and Archives Canada has published a special Famous 5 online exhibit with historical background and correspondence and official documents on the case as well as a bibliography of suggested readings.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Archives have prepared material on the case(N.B. : the CBC did not exist in 1929, so the material includes a few weblinks as well as a clip of former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in 2000)

The Governor General has set up the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case. This year's awards were handed out at an official ceremony today at which the current GG Michaëlle Jean said "Don’t forget, ladies and gentlemen, that the rights of our mothers and grandmothers were hardly the same and that we owe our freedom of action to the women who came just before us."

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

U.S. Courts Are Most Trusted Branch of Government

The Law Librarian Blog is reporting that Americans trust their Supreme Court and other courts more than any other branch of government, according to a survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

At the same time, our neighbours in the Big Republic to the South also feel that courts favour the wealthy and that judges are motivated by political and personal biases.

See the Annenberg Center press release.

Earlier this year, I published a post entitled Judges Get High Marks in Trusted Professions Survey (March 20, 2006):

" According to a recent Léger Marketing telephone survey of 1,500 Canadians, the reputation of judges improved significantly last year, while that of politicians continued its seemingly unstoppable nosedive. 78% of respondents said they trusted judges, up 6 points from last year, thus earning the Canadian judiciary the 8th spot of the 22 occupations included in the survey. The most trusted profession in Canada: firefighters, admired by 96% of the population. The least trusted group in society, politicians, attracted only 14% support Canada-wide, with a regional low of 10% of Quebecers finding politicians trustworthy."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Federal Correctional Investigator Slams Treatment of Native Prisoners

Howard Sapers, the federal Correctional Investigator, presented his annual report Monday. Mr. Sapers' role is that of an independent ombudsman for prisoners in the federal prison system.

From the press release:

"According to the Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator, the Government of Canada’s Corrections Ombudsman, the federal prison system has practices that discriminate against Aboriginal offenders. The Correctional Investigator found that the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) routinely classifies First Nations, Métis and Inuit inmates as higher security risks than non-native inmates; Aboriginal offenders are released later in their sentences than other inmates; and they are more likely to have their conditional release revoked for technical reasons than other offenders. According to the Report, Aboriginal inmates often do not receive timely access to rehabilitative programming and services that would help them return to their communities."
Aboriginal people make up only 2.7 percent of the Canadian population, but make up 18.5 percent of the federal prison population according to 2006 figures of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. And while the overall incarceration rate for non-Aboriginal people is 117 per 100,000 adults, the rate for Aboriginals is 1,024 per 100,000 — almost 9 times higher.

Correctional Services Canada responded, stating:

"As reported in our Report on Plans and Priorities tabled in Parliament on September 26, CSC is focused on delivering five key priorities to improve our contribution to public safety. One of these priorities is to enhance our capacities to provide effective interventions for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders. We have developed, and are implementing a new five-year Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections , which was published on our website last week. This plan clearly articulates our vision for Aboriginal corrections, including appropriate interventions to reduce the rates of recidivism, which will significantly contribute to the public safety of all Canadians."
More from the media:

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

Monday, October 16, 2006

Supreme Court of Canada to Review Religious Divorce

The most recent issue of The Lawyer's Weekly reports that the Supreme Court of Canada will hear a case on December 5, 2006 of a Jewish woman who sued her ex-husband for "allegedly blighting her chances to remarry within her faith when he broke his contractual pledge to her to consent to a religious divorce."

According to the article entitled Withholding ghet permission to be reviewed by Supremes, the issue in this specific case is part of a list of "current religious/secular conflicts over the propriety of polygamy, same-sex marriage and the use of traditional faith-based laws like Sharia to resolve family and civil disputes".

Earlier Library Boy posts about the intersection of religion and secular law:

  • Laïcité 1905-2005: Centenary of the Separation of Church and State in France (December 12, 2005): "Last Friday, December 9, marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the French law creating an active separation of Church and state, a concept known as "laïcité" and that is often translated as secularism."
  • Ontario Bans Sharia Arbitration (February 17, 2006): "The provincial government of Ontario passed legislation this week that bans the use of binding religious arbitration to settle family law matters, like divorce and child custody. The government was driven to pass the law by a public pressure campaign that took off last year against the possibility that a controversial set of Muslim rules and guidelines known as sharia would be used under the Arbitration Act, 1991."
  • Religious Law Guide (February 17, 2006): "The Guide offers an introduction to religious law with sections covering Islamic law, Jewish law, Christian Canon law, Hindu law, Buddhist Law and Confucian Law. Each section provides essential facts as well as details of Web, book and article sources available. There is also a list giving details of how religious law is implemented in a number of jurisdictions."
  • Monthly Newsletter on Law and Religion (March 12, 2006): "The French law blog Doc en Vr@c mentions La Lettre du droit des religions, a monthly online bulletin on law and religion produced by Sébastien Lherbier-Levy since late 2004. Each issue includes an editorial comment, a feature article, news items from France and the European Union, case law from the European Court of Human Rights (and domestic case law from French tribunals) as well as a bibliography."
  • Update to Monthly Newsletter on Law and Religion (September 27, 2006): "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."
  • Quebec Government Creates Committee on Religious/Cultural Diversity in Schools (October 11, 2006): "The Quebec Minister of Education, Jean-Marc Fournier, announced today that he is creating a consultative committee on diversity in the province's schools whose primary task will be to come up with 'a clear and accessible definition of what is a reasonable accommodation' between the needs of children from cultural and religious minorities and the values of the officially secular public education system."
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      Recent Parliamentary Library Publications from Canada, UK, and Australia

      Among the recent publications from the parliamentary libraries in Canada, the UK and Australia that have come to my attention are:
      • Judicial Review: A short guide to claims in the Administrative Court (House of Commons Library, UK): "The paper seeks to explain how claimants bring applications for judicial review and also discusses the procedures for lodging and defending a claim. It considers the statistical trends in the Administrative Court and assesses some of the conflicts that have been identified between the executive and the judiciary following claims for judicial review, particularly in the field of Home Affairs."
      • International Management of Chemicals (Library of Parliament of Canada): "Governments worldwide are examining new approaches to chemicals management in order to improve environmental and public safety and health, while encouraging a competitive chemicals industry. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA 1999) is Canada’s attempt at a new generation of chemicals legislation and it contains some aspects that are internationally groundbreaking. To put CEPA 1999 into international context, this paper provides an overview of principal chemicals legislation in the United States and Australia and the new legislation proposed in the European Union (EU). CEPA 1999 is currently under statutory parliamentary review, and a section of this document briefly discusses these international efforts with respect to some of the issues identified to date in the review."
      • HIV/AIDS - Past, Present and Future (Library of Parliament of Canada): "The first case of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in Canada was reported in February 1982, and the virus responsible, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), was discovered in 1983. Over the past 25 years, governments have spent billions of dollars and scientists have worked exhaustively in order to develop treatments, preventative vaccines and a cure for the fatal disease. This paper will briefly describe the origins of the epidemic, the present state of the epidemic and the recent scientific advances in the fight to contain and treat the infection."
      • Elections around the World 2006 (Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia): "This electronic brief provides links to web-based information and full-text articles relevant to selected countries having national elections in 2006. The electronic brief will cover all elections held in the Pacific region, but coverage will be selective for Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Elections may be presidential or parliamentary (legislative). It will also cover elections that are regionally significant. "

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      Sunday, October 15, 2006

      Recent Material On Web 2.0

      A number of interesting texts about Web 2.0 technologies have come to my attention in the past few days:

      1) Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation, a discussion paper on interactive social networking by David Lankes and Joanne Silverstein, Information Institute of Syracuse:

      "The rise of new web applications that both facilitate and depend upon user contributions has exposed a number of serious issues that today's libraries must face. These web services allow users to easily:"

      • build digital collections (YouTube, FLIKR);
      • join and create social networks (or digital collections of people such as MySPACE, Facebook); and
      • self publish (Blogger, LiveJournal).

      "The advance of these tools have had impacts in multiple areas. One clear example is on software developers (and consumers). Software developers now release early betas of software to a community for testing and refinement... sometimes creating permanent betas that never get officially 'finished.' Software developers also often look to a loosely coupled cadre of programmers to create and/or maintain software and standards through open source. These shifts in the Internet software community have already begun to impact libraries. User expectations for the online catalog and the services of a library they can access online have changed, and libraries must keep up."

      "The American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy has contracted the Information Institute of Syracuse to research and write a detailed technology brief on the topic of participatory networks. The brief will put an emphasis on interactive and social web applications such as blogs, social networks, and include a survey of the general 'Web 2.0' and 'Library 2.0' development world. The idea is to present a comprehensive document library decision makers can use to understand the new wave of social Internet applications, and devise strategies to respond to potential opportunities and threats. The draft of the document will be shared with ALA as well as experts in the field for initial comments in September and October. A public forum will be incorporated into a final drat document at the 2006 LITA Forum in Nashville."

      2) Riding the Waves of "Web 2.0" by Mary Madden and Susannah Fox of the Pew Internet Project:

      " 'Web 2.0' has become a catch-all buzzword that people use to describe a wide range of online activities and applications, some of which the Pew Internet & American Life Project has been tracking for years. As researchers, we instinctively reach for our spreadsheets to see if there is evidence to inform the hype about any online trend. What follows is a short history of the phrase, along with some data to help frame the discussion."
      3) Why Wiki? , an online presentation by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee:

      "A Wiki is a website which visitors can modify. Wikipedia, an open encyclopedia, has become a very popular research site in recent years. This online video course will introduce you to the benefits and disadvantages of the new and controversial publication format."

      • "Part One - Introduction: Start here to get an overview of how Wikis work and how to use Wikipedia. This section includes a guided tour of some articles which have been produced by the Wikipedia community."
      • "Part Two - Caveats: What are the problems with Wikipedia? This section covers topics such as vandalism, content controversies, and coverage biases. The future of Wikipedia is also discussed."
      • "Part Three - Comparisons: How does Wikipedia measure up to other sources? Given Wikipedia's failures, this section emphasizes the need to critically evaluate information from all publication types."
      • "Part Four - Other Wikis: This section covers Wikipedia's sister projects and other fan sites which use the Wiki software. It ends with a review of how libraries and librarians are using Wikis, and how you can create your own Wiki."

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Friday, October 13, 2006

      2007: Year of RSS?

      According to a post on Read/Write Web, RSS feeds will go mainstream in 2007.

      The Internet Explorer 7 browser, the Outlook 2007 e-mail software, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail will all have integrated RSS capabilities.

      People will no longer have to configure or download an RSS reader or aggregator to subscribe to RSS and blog feeds. They will be able to incorporate and manage feeds directly in their e-mail program.

      Advantage: an expansion of the population using RSS.

      Added advantage: people will no longer look annoyed or flee in terror everytime we try to explain to them why they should be using RSS for current awareness purposes.

      Disadvantage: we bloggers will no longer be able to boast about being the "cool techie kids" in our organizations.

      [Source - eLegal Canton]

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

      New Supreme Court of Canada Rules

      Amended Rules for the Supreme Court of Canada came into force today.

      The Office Consolidation incorporating the amendments to the Rules, the printing requirements for bound documents as well as a guide to the principal changes are now available on the Court’s website.

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      Thursday, October 12, 2006

      Which Library Expressions Do Users (Not) Understand?

      At the Supreme Court of Canada Library, we brought out a new online catalogue in the spring. We are now preparing to expand its offerings by adding modules, such as federated searching across multiple catalogues and databases and link resolver software to allow users to connect to electronic journals and even full-text articles directly from the catalogue.

      That means we have added and/or will be adding many new links on the catalogue page.

      Which raises the question (or problem) of what to name those links.

      John Kupersmith, reference librarian at the University of California, Berkeley has created a web resource called Library Terms That Users Understand:

      "This site is intended to help library web developers decide how to label key resources and services in such a way that most users can understand them well enough to make productive choices. It serves as a clearinghouse of usability test data evaluating terminology on library websites, and suggests test methods and best practices for reducing cognitive barriers caused by terminology."

      He has brought together findings from 47 usability studies.

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:31 pm 1 comments links to this post

      Wednesday, October 11, 2006

      Quebec Government Creates Committee on Religious/Cultural Diversity in Schools

      The Quebec Minister of Education, Jean-Marc Fournier, announced today that he is creating a consultative committee on diversity in the province's schools whose primary task will be to come up with "a clear and accessible definition of what is a reasonable accommodation" between the needs of children from cultural and religious minorities and the values of the officially secular public education system.

      Over the past decade, there have been numerous controversies in Quebec society over how much space should be afforded religious symbols in public institutions, whether it be the right of practicing Muslim girls to wear the hijab headscarf in class or the right of young Sikh men to show up at school wearing the ceremonial dagger or kirpan.

      There have been a number of studies and reports on the topic in recent years, including material by the Quebec Human Rights Commission on religious pluralism and the "duty of reasonable accommodation".

      As well, in the spring of 2006, the Library of Parliament published Freedom of Religion and Religious Symbols in the Public Sphere that compared the legislative context in a number of countries:

      "This question touches on the presence of Islamic headscarves and Sikh kirpans in the school system, crucifixes in the courtroom and school, Sikh turbans in the workplace, and Jewish succahs on condominium balconies. Legal and public policy acceptance or accommodation of these religious symbols depends on a variety of factors, but is most often rooted in a constitutional proportionality test that balances the right to freedom of religion against the possible threat to safety, security and public order. However, different countries apply varying interpretations to this balance, driven by national political cultures and social histories that can have a profound impact on the scope accorded to freedom of religion through the interpretation of concepts of security and public order. While governments in traditional countries of immigration, such as Canada and the United States, perceive their role as one of accommodating all forms of religious expression in a neutral manner, more recent countries of immigration often apply a more restrictive and formally secular approach. In particular, France applies its historical policy of laïcité in a way that enforces strict secularism in the public domain, relegating overt forms of religious expression to the private sphere."
      Earlier Library Boy posts on religion and law include:
      • Laïcité 1905-2005: Centenary of the Separation of Church and State in France (December 12, 2005): "Last Friday, December 9, marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the French law creating an active separation of Church and state, a concept known as "laïcité" and that is often translated as secularism."
      • Ontario Bans Sharia Arbitration (February 17, 2006): "The provincial government of Ontario passed legislation this week that bans the use of binding religious arbitration to settle family law matters, like divorce and child custody. The government was driven to pass the law by a public pressure campaign that took off last year against the possibility that a controversial set of Muslim rules and guidelines known as sharia would be used under the Arbitration Act, 1991."
      • Religious Law Guide (February 17, 2006): "The Guide offers an introduction to religious law with sections covering Islamic law, Jewish law, Christian Canon law, Hindu law, Buddhist Law and Confucian Law. Each section provides essential facts as well as details of Web, book and article sources available. There is also a list giving details of how religious law is implemented in a number of jurisdictions."
      • Monthly Newsletter on Law and Religion (March 12, 2006): "The French law blog Doc en Vr@c mentions La Lettre du droit des religions, a monthly online bulletin on law and religion produced by Sébastien Lherbier-Levy since late 2004. Each issue includes an editorial comment, a feature article, news items from France and the European Union, case law from the European Court of Human Rights (and domestic case law from French tribunals) as well as a bibliography."
      • Update to Monthly Newsletter on Law and Religion (September 27, 2006): "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."

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

      New Library and Archives Canada Virtual Exhibit: Parliament Hill

      Library and Archives Canada has a new virtual exhibit on its website called Canada by Design: Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

      It contains photographs, architectural drawings and texts about the history of Canada's Parliament Buildings. The Supreme Court of Canada, where I work, is right next door and I love walking or cycling by the various buildings on the Hill on my way to the Library.

      Earlier Library Boy posts about Parliament Hill include:
      • Parliamentary Website Unveils Heritage Artifacts Collection (December 18, 2005): "A few weeks ago, the House of Commons launched an online exhibit of hundreds of the artifacts, paintings, stained glass, metalworks, sculptures and frescoes that are either on display or hidden away in obscure corners of the Gothic Revival style parliamentary buildings."
      • Library of Parliament Renovations Finally Over (May 17, 2006): "The renovations started in 2002 and are part of the large-scale modernization project of the Parliamentary Precinct, which includes one of the finest collections of neo-Gothic buildings in the world. The Library of Parliament is a veritable architectural gem and is a well-known icon of the Precinct."
      • Renovated Library of Parliament Officially Reopens (May 31, 2006): "Yesterday, the 4-year upgrade to preserve and enhance the Library of Parliament building was officially completed. The project cost $136 million."

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

      Evaluation of European Judicial Systems

      The Council of Europe’s Commission for the Efficiency of Justice published its report on the evaluation of European judicial systems last week.

      From the Council of Europe press release:


      "The report, comprising data for 45 European states, provides the Council of Europe with a real snapshot of justice in Europe. This is a unique process in Europe. Collecting and analysing these essential data should enable decision-makers and the judicial community to understand the major trends in judicial organisation, pinpoint the difficulties and help implement reforms to improve the efficiency of justice."

      "The report gives a comparative description of public spending on the judicial system, the relationship between judicial systems and their users, and the organisation of courts and of judicial staff. The data collected show, for example, that the legal aid system seems very limited in certain member states considering that it is a requirement of the European Court of Human Rights. It is also noted that few member states have definite, accurate data on the duration of judicial proceedings, although failure to observe reasonable time is the principal argument in the cases brought before the Strasbourg Court. The study also shows that there are wide geographical disparities in Europe as regards measures to protect vulnerable persons."

      Full report (217 pages)

      Also see the country-by-country results (Albania to Ukraine)

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Tuesday, October 10, 2006

      Canada's Legal History In The CBC Archives

      Today, someone sent me an e-mail reminding me that October 10th happens to be the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

      I knew that Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976 and wanted to find out more. I came across material from the Canadian Broadcating Corporation Archives about the abolition debate: there are radio and TV clips, links to educational materials for teachers, to other relevant sites and CBC stories, and to archives from Radio-Canada, the CBC's French-language counterpart.

      Browsing through the collection, I found that the CBC Archives have made available material about many other issues in Canadian legal history. Among the topics one can find are:
      • The Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard: "He was a carefree teenaged hippie just passing through Saskatoon on Jan. 31, 1969 — the same day nursing assistant Gail Miller was raped and stabbed to death in a back alley. On the strength of sketchy forensics and unreliable witnesses, David Milgaard was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Twenty years later, his case made national headlines as his mother Joyce confronted politicians in a bid to free her son from jail. By the time he was cleared in 1997, David Milgaard had become one of the most famous examples of wrongful conviction in Canada."
      • Sue Rodriguez and the Right-To-Die Debate: " 'Whose body is this?' With those four words Sue Rodriguez single-handedly catapulted the right-to-die debate onto the public stage. After being diagnosed with the terminal disease ALS in 1991, Rodriguez took her fight all the way to the highest court in the land. She failed to get euthanasia and assisted suicide legalized in Canada. But Rodriguez's battle and her death in 1994 forced a crucial debate on this controversial topic."
      • Dr. Henry Morgentaler: Fighting Canada's Abortion Laws: "In 1969 Dr. Henry Morgentaler emerged as one of Canada's most controversial figures when he broke the law and opened the country's first abortion clinic. Over the next two decades, the Montreal doctor would be heralded as a hero by some and called a murderer by others as he fought to change Canada's abortion laws."
      • Charting the Future: Canada's New Constitution: "It was a hard-fought coming of age for Canada. From the 1960s through the early 1980s, Canadian politicians argued fiercely at the constitutional bargaining table over the balance of provincial and federal power. In the end, Canada gained a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a homemade Constitution. But it would not be without its costs as the question of Quebec's status in Canada loomed larger than ever."
      • Trudeau's Omnibus Bill: Challenging Canadian Taboos: " 'There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.' Those unforgettable words made famous by Pierre Trudeau in 1967 caused a tidal wave of controversy that rippled across the entire nation. Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill brought issues like abortion, homosexuality and divorce law to the forefront for the first time, changing the political and social landscape in Canada forever."
      • Equality First: The Royal Commission on the Status of Women: "The Royal Commission on the Status of Women, called by Prime Minister Pearson in February 1967, held the notion of equal opportunity as its precept. Chaired by journalist Florence Bird, the panel was criticized both for exceeding traditional boundaries and also for hedging on the conservative. But the great undercurrent born of the Bird Commission was a renunciation against inequality."
      • The Battle for Aboriginal Treaty Rights: "It's a battle over the land and its resources. The fight has taken place on the land, in the courts and in the media. When government and native groups signed treaty agreements over a century ago, neither side imagined the repercussions. Canada's native people say treaties have been ignored and their rights — from logging trees to fishing eels — have been limited. In the 1980s, frustration grew and failed negotiations turned into roadblocks and deadly confrontation."
      • Religion in the Classroom: "Canada has struggled with the role of religion in public schools throughout the past half-century. The debate in recent decades is complicated by the fact that Canada is now home to so many different religions. From questioning the recitation of the Lord's Prayer in class to wearing ceremonial daggers at school, the right to exercise one's religion in public school classrooms remains the subject of fierce debate in Canada."
      • Splitting Up: Canadians Get Divorced: "Having concrete proof of adultery was once the only way to get a divorce in Canada. That meant a detective's photograph of a cheating husband. Or witnesses in a dirty motel room. Then in 1968, a new divorce law gave couples trapped in bad marriages an easy way out. The law started a divorce trend that continues to this day, in a time when it's so simple to break the knot, you can even do it online."
      • Pot and Politics: Canada and the Marijuana Debate: "In 1923 it became illegal for Canadians to possess marijuana. But the laws have always been flouted, by recreational users who just want to get high, and by medicinal users seeking relief from pain and illness. From cannabis cafés to courtrooms, doctors and patients, rabble-rousers and senior statesmen have engaged in a passionate debate over marijuana possession. But the laws have endured."
      • The Krever Report: Canada's Tainted Blood Disaster: "A new disease was threatening the Canadian blood supply in the early 1980s: AIDS. But the Canadian Red Cross was slow to introduce donor screening methods and even slower to test the blood. With the Krever Commission, those infected by the AIDS virus and hepatitis C found a compassionate ear and the answers they sought about who was to blame for this public health scandal."

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Monday, October 09, 2006

      Quebec Government Launches Study On Anti-Activist Defamation Suits

      This is a follow-up to the August 20, 2006 Library Boy post entitled Quebec Environmental Pioneers Threatened With Being SLAPPed Into Oblivion.

      On Friday, the Quebec government announced the creation of an expert panel to look into any possible measures to prevent Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs for short.

      SLAPPs typically take the form of defamation lawsuits filed by corporations in an attempt to shut down criticism by non-governmental organizations or citizen lobby groups.

      As described in the August 20, 2006 post, such a lawsuit has been launched against the Association québécoise contre la pollution atmosphérique, considered one of Canada's environmentalist pioneers. Since the lawsuit began, the organization has had its insurance policy cancelled and has been turned down by every other insurance company it approached. The association, which was instrumental in bringing about the Canada-US acid rain deal a decade ago, may have to close its doors.

      The Quebec expert panel will be lead by Roderick A. Macdonald, the F.R. Scott Professor of Constitutional and Public Law at McGill University.

      The panel is to look at the "current rules in Quebec, Canada and the United States with regard to the balance between freedom of expression and the right to one's reputation (...)". Should the panel conclude that the state of Quebec law does not allow for a proper balance, it is to propose "avenues of improvement".

      Background on SLAPPs (taken from the August 20, 2006 post):
      • SLAPPs: Getting Sued for Speaking Out: "George Pring and Penelope Canan [originated the term] after investigating a range of behaviour that led to legal action against activists, including peaceful demonstrators, seeking signatures for petitions, and even reporting corporate breaches of environmental regulation... They suggest that SLAPPs are not intended to reach the courts (where they typically lose) but are designed to silence criticism through legal intimidation. The goal is to limit public debate and to allow corporations to continue their activities without restriction."
      • Defamation and SLAPPs (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, University of Ottawa): "The plaintiff's goal in a SLAPP is not to win the lawsuit, but is rather to silence a critic by instilling fear of large legal costs and the spectre of large damage awards. Despite their right to free speech, critics may be frightened into silence..."
      • Corporate Retaliation Against Consumers: The Status of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) in Canada (Public Interest Advocacy Centre): "The report describes a number of lawsuits or threats of a lawsuit in Canada that fit the definition of a SLAPP. This evidence suggests that SLAPPs are very much a Canadian phenomenon and have been initiated against consumers for public criticism of products or services as well as against individuals for advocating on environmental issues. The report briefly analyses the constitutional questions raised by SLAPPs and draws comparisons to the constitutional and judicial treatment of SLAPPs in the United States."
      • California Anti-SLAPP Project: "the Project is a public interest law firm that provides assistance to people on the receiving end of SLAPPs. About half the states in the United States have enacted anti-SLAPP legislation and the website provides links to case law and statutes for California and other states. As well, the site offers other resources, including a bibliography on the issue (updated to 2003) "
      • SLAPP's in Australia (Center for Media and Democracy Sourcewatch): "The following is the beginning of a list of Australian cases where civil litigation has transformed public debate into legal cases... The Center describes itself as a 'non-profit, public interest organization that strengthens participatory democracy by investigating and exposing public relations spin and propaganda, and by promoting media literacy and citizen journalism'. Its most well-known project is perhaps the quarterly PR Watch which investigates the public relations or 'spin' industry."

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Friday, October 06, 2006

      New Library of Parliament Publications

      Here are some recent studies and legislative summaries prepared by the Library of Parliament's Research Service. They were added to the parliamentary website in the last 2 months:

      • International Food Standards: "Food standards, quality, and safety issues are often subject to public as well as parliamentary debates. Various private Members’ bills proposing to amend the Food and Drugs Act have been introduced in Parliament to address concerns about food labelling, natural health products, and alcohol warnings. The total value of Canadian agri-food exports in 2004 was $26.45 billion, and imports were valued at $20.43 billion. With the expansion of the global food trade and growing consumer awareness in matters concerning food, international standards related to food and food safety are becoming increasingly important. Moreover, food production and processing methods in one country may not be acceptable to consumers in another part of the world ...The most important issue is that all foods be safe for human consumption. For this reason, almost all countries have a food control system to protect their population against unsafe, adulterated or otherwise poor-quality food. Internationally, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (the Commission) administers the Codex Alimentarius, which is a collection of food standards developed and presented in a uniform and codified manner."
      • Trafficking in Persons: "The United Nations estimates that 700,000 people are trafficked annually worldwide – this is a fluid figure that is difficult to pin down. Different organizations arrive at different estimates, partly because of differences in interpretation of the term, but primarily because of the extraordinarily clandestine nature of the activity being measured and the impossibility of arriving at concrete figures. Needless to say, the problem of trafficking in persons has become one of the most pressing topics in global migration policy today. This paper will discuss the concept of trafficking in general terms and provide an overview of the legislative framework surrounding the issue at the international level and within the Canadian context. It will conclude with a discussion of potential gaps in Canadian legislation and policy with respect to trafficking in persons."
      • Bill C-17: An Act to amend the Judges Act and certain other Acts in relation to courts: "The bill deals with judicial salaries and allowances, judicial annuities and other benefits. As such, it constitutes a response to the May 2004 report of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission..."
      • Bill C-21: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act(Non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted): "Under Bill C-21, the Registrar of Firearms ... will no longer issue, or keep records of, registration certificates for non-restricted firearms. Provisions of the Firearms Act regarding the expiry and revocation of registration certificates are accordingly amended, as are provisions setting out the documentation that is involved when lending, importing or exporting non-restricted firearms. Although registration certificates will no longer be involved when transferring (i.e., selling or giving) a firearm, a person transferring a non-restricted firearm to an individual will be required to seek an authorization from the Chief Firearms Officer, who will verify that the recipient is entitled to possess the firearm... Although Bill C-21 removes the need to hold a registration certificate for non restricted firearms, it does not change the requirement for all individuals to hold a licence in order to possess a firearm, and therefore to undergo a background check and pass any required safety course. Additionally, Bill C-21 will allow for regulations to require firearms businesses to record transactions relating to non-restricted firearms."
      • Bill C-23: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments): "The bill makes various amendments, especially procedural ones, to the Criminal Code. Other amendments concern the language of the accused, sentencing and certain criminal offences... the amendments concern a host of unrelated Criminal Code provisions. However, they are the result of consultations with the provinces and territories, within the context, for example, of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada"

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Forensic Science Exhibit at Canada Science and Technology Museum

      This is lots of fun: Autopsy of a Murder, an exhibition about forensic science, opened last weekend at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.

      "This interactive exhibition featuring three locations: the crime scene, an autopsy room, and an archive, as well as five re-created laboratories; shows visitors how forensic science helps solve crime. Visitors are invited to become investigators and are challenged to solve a fictional murder using ballistics, genetics, voice analysis, fibre analysis and chemistry-toxicology. Also included is an interactive ballistics game designed with cutting-edge technology and processes that gives visitors a glimpse of firearm identification."

      The site also contains links to forensic resources on the Web and to forensic science institutions in Canada.

      The exhibition runs until next September.

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Thursday, October 05, 2006

      Library Journal's Movers and Shakers Archive

      People may have already heard that they have until November 1, 2006 to nominate "50-plus up-and-coming individuals from across the United States and Canada who are innovative, creative, and making a difference" in the library and information world.

      This is for the Movers & Shakers 2007 supplement of Library Journal that will be published next March.

      Interestingly, Marylaine Block, author of Net Effects: How Librarians Can Manage the Unintended Consequences of the Internet and creator of Neat New Stuff I Found on the Web This Week, has compiled a master list of all the past Movers and Shakers from 2002 to 2006 and linked to the Library Journal supplements from those years.

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Acquisitions

      The list of new titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada Library collection in the second 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 list.

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Wednesday, October 04, 2006

      Popular Song Lyrics in Legal Writing

      The Law Librarian Blog today mentioned an entertaining pre-print about persuasive legal writing. It is by Oklahoma City University School of Law professor Alex B. Long and is entitled [Insert Song Lyrics Here]: The Uses and Misuses of Popular Music Lyrics in Legal Writing.

      From the abstract:

      "Legal writers frequently utilize the lyrics of popular music artists to help advance a particular theme or argument in legal writing. And if the music we listen to says something about us as individuals, then the music we, the legal profession as a whole, write about may something about who we are as a profession. A study of citations to popular artists in law journals reveals that, not surprisingly, Bob Dylan is the most popular artist in legal scholarship. The list of names of the other artists rounding out the Top Ten essentially reads like a Who’s Who of baby boomer favorites. Often, attorneys use the lyrics of popular music in fairly predictable ways in their writing, sometimes with adverse impact on the persuasiveness of the argument they are advancing. However, if one digs deeper, one can find numerous instances in which legal writers incorporate the lyrics of popular music into their writing in more creative ways."

      Long admits to flaws in his methodology. He "typed in a bunch of artists’ names" in the LexisNexis databases "US Law Reviews and Journals, Combined" and "Federal and State Cases, Combined" and counted up the number of cites in legal journal articles and in judicial decisions.

      The list:

      1. Dylan
      2. Beatles
      3. Bruce Springsteen
      4. Paul Simon
      5. Woody Guthrie
      6. The Stones
      7. Grateful Dead
      8. Simon & Garfunkel
      9. Joni Mitchell
      10. R.E.M.

      According to Long, R.E.M. is the only alternative or post-punk artist represented in the Top Ten, "and even their popularity can be explained in large measure by the fact that lawyers just seem to get a kick out of the title of their song,'It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)'."

      The discussion of what lawyers and judges are trying to do when they reference song lyrics - and whether they succeed - is fascinating.

      He concludes with a double reference to Neil Young and Wu-Tang Clan:

      "The personal connection we feel toward certain music is not attributable to lyrics alone, but to melody, performance, production, and the timing that introduced the song to you at that particular point in time in your life. Why then should we expect a set of lyrics, divorced from context, to bring our writing to life? But sometimes they do. There are most definitely risks in trying to work popular music lyrics into legal writing, but occasionally the attempt pays off in the form of more interesting and persuasive writing. So, be careful, but keep on rockin’ in the free world. Peace, I’m out."

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

      Canadian Senate Report on Money Laundering

      Yesterday, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce released its interim report on Canada's effort to fight money laundering by organized crime and terrorist networks.

      The Senate report is part of the mandated review of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (S.C. 2000, c. 17).

      The Senate committee estimates that the amount of dirty money laundered each year in Canada far exceeds what the federal government anti-money-laundering authorities at the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC) of Canada have found. FINTRAC, which filed its 2005-06 annual report in Parliament today, estimates the dollar value of suspect transactions for the year was slightly over $5 billion. The Senate report feels the figure could be in the tens of billions of dollars.

      The committee is calling on the federal government to expand the scope of the Act to monitor jewellers, generic bank/cash machine operators and lawyers.

      It wants Ottawa to require that jewellers be obliged to report cash transactions above $10,000 and that lawyers be required to meet record-keeping and reporting requirements in a way that respects solicitor-client privilege.

      Both the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the Department of Finance told the Senate committee that negotiations are ongoing in an effort to determine a mutually acceptable regime. The committee was told by the Justice Department, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other groups such as the General Accountants Association of Canada that the exclusion of lawyers from the provisions of the Act had created a major loophole in the legislation.

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Author Looking for Help on Web 2.0 Book

      Consultant Ellyssa Kroski, who maintains the Infotangle blog, is writing a new book for Neal-Schuman Publishers about the use Web 2.0 technologies in the library and information fields.

      And she wants your help!

      "I am hoping to include many case studies and examples of libraries as well as librarians and informationists who are using Web 2.0 technologies in unique ways. Please be sure to contact me if you are either using new Web 2.0 technology or if you know of a really great implementation that should be mentioned in the book."

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Deadline Approaching for Canadian Award for Excellence in Law Librarianship

      The deadline for nominations for the Denis Marshall Memorial Award for Excellence in Law Librarianship is October 15, 2006.


      The Award was established by LexisNexis Quicklaw to recognize a current member of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries who has provided outstanding service to the Association and/or enhanced the profession of law librarianship in the recent past.

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Tuesday, October 03, 2006

      Oh No: UK Judges To Lose Their Wigs!

      The collaborative Canadian law blog Slaw.ca refers to an article in The Times of London according to which English judges are being consulted between now and Christmas on whether they want to abandon their famous wigs.

      Apparently, according to The Times, there is lots of pressure from different quarters to get rid of the headgear that goes back to the Restoration Era of the late 17th-century.

      I say: No, No, No!

      I mean, I can understand that Irish judges want to drop fancy-schmancy titles. And if the Irish are going to get all modern on us, I guess Indian judges may want to give up their titles from British colonial times.

      But not the British! The role of the Brits on this planet is to preserve silly old traditions. Give up the wigs? What's next? Driving on the right side of the road? The tabloids becoming respectable? Edible cuisine? Republicanism?

      Please don't let us down!

      Earlier Library Boy posts about wigs:

      • Why Do Lawyers and Judges Wear Funny Robes and Wigs? (February 26, 2006): "If you have ever wondered about the origins of court attire in the common law jurisdictions, especially the United Kingdom, there is an interesting book out that is also available in PDF format: Legal Habits: A Brief Sartorial History of Wig, Robe and Gown. Published by Ede and Ravenscroft, suppliers of wigs and robes to the British legal profession for a few hundred years, this small volume by Thomas Woodcock covers the history of judges’ robes, barrister’s gowns and wigs."
      • More Court Changes in the UK (April 7, 2006): "The Judiciary of England and Wales has launched a new website that includes current court rulings, judges' speeches, court reports on legal issues, information on what UK judges do, and quizzes to educate the public on how the UK court system works... And yes, the website even has lots of materials on why UK magistrates have to wear those funny looking wigs."

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Access to Information Laws in 14 Countries

      Transparency and Silence is a recently released study by the Open Society Institute that looked at access to government information in 14 countries.

      The study concludes "that transitional democracies outperformed established ones in providing information about government activities. Bulgaria, Romania, Armenia, Mexico, and Peru did better in answering citizens’ requests for information than France and Spain."

      On the negative side, the study found widespread ethnic discrimination against requestors in some countries, notably members of the Roma minority in Eastern Europe. Even when their request was identical to that made by other requestors, they were provided with less information.

      On the positive side, the report identifies some top performers when it comes to government transparency: Armenia’s Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Work and Social Issues, and Ministry of Environment; Romania’s Ministry of Justice, and the Bucharest Tribunal; Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassation, and Ministry of Environment and Water; and the municipalities of Miraflores and San Isidro, in Peru.

      As well, the study notes the trend towards greater access. 65 countries now have laws on the subject.

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

      Monday, October 02, 2006

      Updated European Union Law Research Guide

      LLRX.com has updated the document entitled European Union Law: An Integrated Guide to Electronic and Print Research by Marylin Johnson Raisch, the Librarian for International and Foreign Law at the John Wolff International and Comparative Law Library of the Georgetown Law Center.

      The Guide, originally published in October 2002, but updated in November 2003 and again on September 17, 2006, covers:
      • Treaties establishing the European Union
      • Legislative process and history
      • Case law
      • Periodical literature and other sources
      • Implementing legislation at the national level
      • Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
      • Citation issues and "a guide to the guides"

      Earlier Library Boy posts relating to European law include:

      • EU Law Blog (March 6, 2006): "Anonymously written, it is a 'web log about European Union law for students, academics, practitioners and anyone else who may be interested in it' ."
      • European Union URLs Changed (May 22, 2006): "Since earlier this month, European Union institutional websites have a new '.eu' domain name. This means that sites whose addresses used to end with '.eu.int' now have an '.eu' ending instead. Many EU sites have also been renamed, sometimes in major ways."
      • Another European Union Blog (June 24, 2006): "A relatively new blog called ECJBlog now covers news from the European Court of Justice. The blog is based in the Netherlands. The Court examines the legality of measures taken by European Union institutions and ensures the uniform interpretation and application of EU law."
      • Government Accountability Resources (August 28, 2006) - the before last paragraph reads: "The European Union also has a European Court of Auditors which is on a par with the other institutions of the Union: the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Communities. The Court ensures the reliability of the EU accounts and the legality of the transactions underlying the EU budget."

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      posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:10 pm 0 comments links to this post