Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Breaking the Silence : International Conference on the Indian Residential Schools Commission of Canada

Last weekend, the Université de Montréal hosted Breaking the Silence : International conference on the Indian residential schools commission of Canada.

The gathering was a joint initiative of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Centre for Research on Ethics of the Université de Montréal (CREUM) and the Centre on Values and Ethics of Carleton University (Ottawa).

Prof. Daniel Weinstock of the Université de Montréal was interviewed last night on the Radio-Canada program Vous êtes ici ("You are here"). The interview is in French and lasts 18 minutes.

Prof. Weinstock teaches philosophy there and is the director of the CREUM.

The interview discusses the experience of truth and reconciliation commissions in other countries (such as South Africa) and examines some of the foreseeable problems that the Canadian commission into the abuse of tens of thousands of aboriginal children in government-funded boarding schools may run into.

From the 19th century until very recently, about 150,000 aboriginal children were removed from their communities and forced to attend remote residential schools. Countless children were abused physically or sexually.

The system intended to aggressively assimilate the children and Christianize them. They were frequently punished for speaking their ancestral tongues and their culture was denied or "beaten out" of them.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the residential schools issue:
  • Implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (September 20, 2007): "The federal government announced this week the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Former students who were subjected to abuse in Indian Residential Schools will be able to submit applications for compensation until September 2011. Aboriginal children were often grabbed away from their families to be shipped off to the boarding schools that tried to assimilate them."
  • Ontario Aboriginal Judge To Head Truth and Reconciliation Commission (April 28, 2008); "The Canadian government announced today that Justice Harry LaForme of the Ontario Court of Appeal will head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is to examine the legacy of decades of abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools (...) The Commission's official work of hearing testimony from former students and surviving school staff is to start in June and last 5 years. Its job will be to establish an official historical record of what was done to Native children in the residential school system."
  • Government of Canada Officially Apologizes for Indian Residential Schools Fiasco (June 11, 2008): "Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented a formal apology today on behalf of the Canadian government for the damage done to generations of aboriginal Canadians who went through Indian residential schools.The apology was read to a packed House of Commons in which many aboriginal leaders had been invited to sit. The apology ceremony was broadcast live on TV, radio, and the Internet."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

New American Library Association Website

The American Library Association (ALA) has launched a major upgrade of its website.

Among the highlights:
  • A home page banner, with dropdown shortcuts to frequently requested areas of the site
  • A news section with a three-tab structure for information about the ALA, library-related legislation and advocacy, and U.S. and world news affecting libraries. News is updated frequently, using RSS feeds
  • A new information architecture that doesn’t require users to be familiar with internal ALA structure in order to browse successfully
  • A Google search appliance
Old bookmarks may sometimes no longer work.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:02 pm 1 comments links to this post

Monday, September 29, 2008

2008 Corruption Perceptions Index

Last week, the government ethics watchdog group Transparency International released its 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index, a survey of perceptions of public sector corruption in some 180 states.

At the bottom of the list are countries such as Somalia, Burma, Iraq, Haiti, Afghanistan, Sudan, Guinea, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
" 'In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play,' said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International. 'The continuing high levels of corruption and poverty plaguing many of the world’s societies amount to an ongoing humanitarian disaster and cannot be tolerated. But even in more privileged countries, with enforcement disturbingly uneven, a tougher approach to tackling corruption is needed'. "
The cleanest countries for the 2008 survey were Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand. Canada came in 9th.

The complete results as well as the sources for the evaluation are available online [links near the bottom of the document mentioned in the opening paragraph].

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Report on Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard

The Commission of Inquiry into the Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard has released its report.

David Milgaard was wrongfully convicted in 1970 of murdering and raping Gail Miller in Saskatoon, but was full exonerated in 1997. He spent 22 years in jail. The Supreme Court threw out his conviction in 1992.

Milgaard received an apology and $10 million in compensation from the Saskatchewan provincial government in 1999, the year serial rapist Larry Fisher was convicted of the crime.

The commission report recommends that the federal government establish an independent review board to review claims of wrongful conviction. Such a board exists in the UK.

At the moment, the federal justice minister has the authority to consider claims on a case-by-case basis.

For more background, see the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's In Depth: David Milgaard resources.

Earlier Library Boy posts about miscarriages of justice/wrongful convictions include:

  • Wrongful Conviction Resources on the Web (December 19, 2005): "The LLRX.com website has just published a bibliography entitled Wrongful Conviction and Innocence Resources on the Internet. It is divided into sections on current awareness, 'innocence projects' (groups and research projects that help investigate cases of wrongful conviction), government commissions, case profiles and case databases, reports on wrongful conviction published by the government, academics, various organizations and the media in the United States, courses, conferences and organizations." The post mentions other Canadian resources
  • James Driskell Wrongful Conviction Report (February 16, 2007): "This week, the Manitoba Attorney General has released the report of the judicial commission of inquiry in the James Driskell case (...) Driskell was wrongfully convicted in 1991 of murder. That verdict was overturned in 2005 by the federal government, which launched a commission of inquiry into how this miscarriage of justice could have happened. Driskell spent 13 years in jail. The commission report concluded that police and Crown lawyers failed to disclose crucial evidence that could have prevented Driskell's wrongful conviction. The jury was also 'seriously misled' on issues including the reliability of a key Crown witness."
  • Wrongful Convictions Database at University of Texas Law Library (April 12, 2007) : "The Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas has created an Actual Innocence awareness database that covers the area of wrongful criminal convictions in the United States."
  • Wrongful Convictions: Public Inquiry Called Into Actions of Ontario Pathologist (April 24, 2007): "The chief coroner of Ontario revealed last week that Dr. Charles Smith, a former leading Ontario child pathologist, made mistakes in 20 cases involving the deaths of children. The announcement cast doubt on 13 criminal convictions (...) As a result of the chief coroner's report, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant announced yesterday that he is launching a public inquiry with powers of subpoena for people and documents. Cabinet will name a senior judge tomorrow to lead the inquiry."
  • Annual Report on Applications to Review Miscarriages of Justice (June 12, 2007): "'Under Canadian law, the Minister of Justice has the legal authority to review a criminal conviction on the basis that there may have been a miscarriage of justice (...) This is the fourth annual report and it covers the period April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2006. Under the regulations, the Minister's annual report must address the following matters: the number of applications for ministerial review made to the Minister; the number of applications that have been abandoned or that are incomplete; the number of applications that are at the preliminary assessment stage; the number of decisions that the Minister has made; and any other information that the Minister considers appropriate."
  • 50 Years Later, Truscott Murder Conviction Deemed 'Miscarriage of Justice' (August 28, 2007): "Almost a half century after the events at the heart of the case, the Ontario Court of Appeal today acquitted Steven Truscott of murder in the death of Lynne Harper in Clinton, Ontario. Fresh forensic evidence surrounding the time of death of the victim helped Truscott's case. At age 14, Truscott was sentenced to hang in 1959 in what became one of the most famous and controversial trials in the Canadian history. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He was paroled after 10 years in federal penitentiary."
  • Start of Inquiry Into Actions of Disgraced Pathologist (November 12, 2007): "The long awaited judicial inquiry into the work of Dr. Charles Smith began today in Toronto. In late April 2007, the chief coroner of Ontario published a report that concluded Smith, a former leading Ontario child pathologist, had botched at least 20 autopsies involving the deaths of children. The coroner's announcement cast doubt on 13 criminal convictions. Courts have since then reviewed a number of convictions based on Smith's conclusions."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, September 26, 2008

CanLII Adds 25 Labour Law Databases

CanLII, the Canadian Legal Information Institute that makes law available for free over the Internet, has added 25 databases of labour boards and tribunals and 130,000 decisions in labour law.

The databases contain rulings from both the federal and the provincial/territorial levels.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting in Ottawa

The American Society for Legal History is holding its next annual conference in Ottawa, Nov 13-16, 2008, at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel.

Among the topics:

  • Censoring Justice: Silence and Exposure in Twentieth-Century U.S. Military History
  • Medieval Canon Law in Practice
  • Codification and Nationalism in Europe
  • The Making of the Cambridge History of Law in America
  • Administrative Law and the Reconstruction of States in the U.S., Europe and Japan
  • Roman Law in Rule and Practice
  • Assessing Canadian Feminist Legal History: a panel in honour of Constance Backhouse
  • Sexuality and Civil Rights at Century’s End
  • What Were They Thinking?: Judges and the Operation of the Criminal Law in Eighteenth-Century England
  • and lots more!

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:07 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Globe and Mail Obituary of Senator Gérald Beaudoin

As we all know, former Canadian Senator Gérald Beaudoin, one of the country's foremost constitutional scholars, died Sept. 10, 2008 (see Library Boy post - Constitutional Scholar Gérald Beaudoin Passes Away, Sept. 11, 2008).

Today, the Globe and Mail newspaper printed an obituary entitled Professor and constitutional expert served in Senate and argued all sides.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Amnesty International Presents Its Federal Election Wishlist

As its contribution to the federal election debate, the Canadian section of the international human rights organization Amnesty International today released a new report entitled Strengthening our Commitment: A Human Rights Agenda for Canada.

The group says it wants to draw the attention of candidates to crucial national and international human rights challenges that it claims Canada has not been doing enough to meet. The report outlines 10 areas in which it says Canada has been falling behind:
  • Human rights and national security laws
  • Human rights in Canadian foreign policy
  • Canada on the world stage
  • The rights of Indigenous peoples
  • Women’s human rights
  • Refugee protection
  • The death penalty
  • The use of tasers
  • Business and human rights
  • Addressing poverty
I will try to find other election-related resources that relate to legal issues or library issues. A few days ago, I posted about the Canadian Library Association Federal Election Kit (Sept. 21, 2008) and CBC Radio Presents Canada's Digital Wish List (September 22, 2008) .

I haven't seen anything yet from bar associations.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Library of Parliament Study on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

The most recent edition of the Weekly Checklist of Government of Canada publications lists a revised edition of a Library of Parliament study called Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: International Experiences:

"Over the last decade, movements have arisen in a number of jurisdictions in favour of the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and, in some cases, euthanasia. At the same time, there continues to be vocal opposition to the elimination of criminal sanctions for individuals who either assist in or cause the death of a person who has requested that his or her life be terminated. This paper reviews developments in jurisdictions that already permit physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia (or both) in certain contexts, as well as developments in some jurisdictions that appear to be moving toward greater acceptance of these practices. It also summarizes some of the events that have contributed to the debate on this issue."
The Weekly Checklist includes a listing of book and serial titles which have been released during the previous week by the Parliament of Canada, federal departments, and Statistics Canada.

The study looks at the situation in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, France and Luxemburg.

An earlier Library Boy post entitled Assisted Suicide Debate Back in the News (May 17, 2007) includes links to many other sources on the topic.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of September 1st to 15th, 2008 is 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 loan to authorized libraries.

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

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 22, 2008

Canada's Access Laws in Crisis Says Freedom of Information Report

A new report on access to government information shows that delays imposed on Canadians making requests under federal access to information rules have reached a "crisis level".

Under the federal access to information law, enacted in 1983, Canadians who pay $5 can ask for government files ranging from audits and briefing notes to correspondence and expense reports.

The report, Fallen behind: Canada's access to information act in the world context, was written by Stanley Tromp, co-ordinator of the freedom-of-information caucus of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

According to the author:

  • more than 60 countries have quicker response times to access requests than Canada
  • the right of access to government information is written into the constitution of 42 of the 68 countries studied. Such a right is not in the Canadian constitution
  • the federal Information Commissioner, an independent officer of the Canadian Parliament, does not have the power to order the publication of information subject to Cabinet confidences. Access officers in many other countries have much broader powers of enforcement
  • some 100 public bodies in the Canadian federal sector are still not subject to Canada's access legislation. Legislation in a majority of studied countries covers most legal entities performing public functions and/or 'vested with public powers.'
  • Canadian access legislation fails to conform to many recommendations from at least ten other global political organizations, such as Commonwealth Secretariat, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and United Nations Development Agency
  • exemptions and exclusions of information from coverage under Canada's access legislation tend to be broader than what is standard in other countries

The report was funded by the Canadian Association of Journalists, the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, the Canadian Newspaper Association, the Canadian Community Newspapers Association. The contents don't necessarily reflect the sponsors' views.

Mr. Tromp's Canadian FOI Resource Website offers links to more material including a World FOI Chart and an index of global freedom of information rulings.

Related Library Boy posts include:

  • Freedom of Information: Code of Silence 2006 Award Nominees (May 11, 2006): "On a related note, the Canadian Newspaper Association documented what it calls a 'culture of secrecy' in a major 2005 freedom of information research project. Reporters from 45 member newspapers simultaneously visited municipal, provincial and federal government offices across Canada asking for access to information on basic everyday topics such as class size, police suspensions and restaurant inspections. As the Ottawa Citizen reported in a May 28, 2005 front page article ... : 'Reporters found a confusing patchwork of policies across the country, ranging from poor disclosure in provinces such as Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, to a surprising 93-per-cent disclosure in Alberta. Overall, officials handed over records to just one in every three requests made in person. The rest remained locked in government filing cabinets as reporters were told they had to file time-consuming -- and often expensive -- formal requests under provincial or federal access laws'."
  • Many Federal Departments Flunk in 2006-2007 Information Commissioner Report Card (May 30, 2007): "In his first annual report, the new federal Information Commissioner Robert Marleau concludes that a great many Canadian government agencies show a serious lack of transparency when it comes to access to government documents under the Access to Information Act : 'Despite much progress since 1983, there remain impediments to the full realization of Parliament’s intent as expressed in the Act. Too often, responses to access requests are late, incomplete, or overly-censored. Too often, access is denied to hide wrongdoing, or to protect officials or governments from embarrassment, rather than to serve a legitimate confidentiality requirement. Year after year, in the pages of these reports, information commissioners recount what is going wrong and offer views on how to make it right'."
  • Media Reports Government Wants to Can Access to Information Database (May 3, 2008): "The Toronto Star is reporting that the federal government is putting an end to the Coordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS), an internal database of every request filed to all federal departments and agencies under the Access to Information Act (ATIA) ... CAIRS was seen by lawyers, reporters, and government watchdog groups as a very useful resource. They could mine the information in the database, approach government departments and request copies of already released documents."
  • 2007-2008 Annual Report of Canada's Information Commissioner (May 29, 2008): "'This period was marked by considerable interest in the issue of access to government information and in the role of the Commissioner and his office in investigating complaints. The interest was partially spurred by changes to the Access to Information Act arising from the Federal Accountability Act, which included a significant increase in the number of institutions subject to the Act (70 to bring the total to more than 250). Another contributing factor was public debate about access to government information, sparked in particular by Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. There has also been ongoing, and welcome, scrutiny of the Commissioner’s effectiveness at using his influence as ombudsman to foster a culture of openness in government. The Commissioner and his office faced numerous challenges in the past year, not the least of which being a significant backlog of complaints waiting to be handled. The number of new complaints received increased by 80 percent from the previous year'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

CBC Radio Presents Canada's Digital Wish List

The radio show/podcast Spark on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has started a feature called Canada's Digital Wish List as a way of sponsoring discussion during the federal election campaign.

Show producers are "asking people who work in technology and innovation to tell us what they think Canada needs to do now in order to be considered a major innovator in the future (...) Another way of saying this is: What do you wish you were hearing from our politicians about technology and innovation? We're calling people who work in privacy, green IT, new media, and many other sectors, to weigh in on this question. We hope to have all of our 'Wish List' people chosen within the next few days. You'll hear them on the show soon."

Spark, a weekly show about the impact of IT trends on society and culture, is hosted by Nora Young.

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

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Annual Report of the International Criminal Court

The 2007/2008 annual report of the International Criminal Court, submitted in late August to the General Assembly of the United Nations, has been published.

It covers cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sudan and the Central African Republic. It also discusses cooperation with the United Nations and other institutions.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:20 am 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Library Association Federal Election Kit

The Canadian Library Association has launched a Federal Election Kit.

It summarizes nine key library issues and provides suggestions on how librarians, trustees and others can reach out to candidates to make them take these issues seriously.

The issues are:
  • copyright reform
  • library postal rates
  • sales tax on reading materials
  • library services for Canadians with print disabilities
  • Community Access Program (government funding to provide access to the Internet)
  • exclusion of libraries and archives from federal infrastructure funding
  • funding for libraries through Library and Archives Canada
  • national literacy initiatives
  • net neutrality

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

New Ontario Continuing Legal Education Database

The Law Society of Upper Canada's AccessCLE full text database has gone live.

The new databases allows users to search across hundreds of continuing legal education articles produced by the Law Society from 2004 onwards and to purchase them online.

Indexing of the content makes it easy to browse by practice area or to search by author, program date and title. Material is enhanced with direct links to any cases in the open access CanLII (Canadian Legal Information Institute) collection that are cited in the materials.

It is possible to preview the first few pages of articles in PDF format before purchasing.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:56 am 0 comments links to this post

Friday, September 19, 2008

Redesign of the United Nations Treaty Collection

The Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations has launched a new online version of the United Nations Treaty Collection.

In the past, access to a lot of material required a password but the new site is free.

It provides access to the contents of the United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) database, the database known as Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General, and Certified True Copies.

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

Thursday, September 18, 2008

NYT Article: International Influence of US Supreme Court Down, Supreme Court of Canada Up

An article in yesterday's New York Times discusses the waning influence of the U.S. Supreme Court in the eyes of non-American judges.

The article, entitled U.S. Court Is Now Guiding Fewer Nations , describes how the number of foreign cases that cite the top American court has been declining. This is true for Australia, Canada and the European Court of Human Rights.

Reporter Adam Liptak offers a number of explanations:
"The rise of new and sophisticated constitutional courts elsewhere is one reason for the Supreme Court’s fading influence, legal experts said. The new courts are, moreover, generally more liberal than the Rehnquist and Roberts courts and for that reason more inclined to cite one another."

"Another reason is the diminished reputation of the United States in some parts of the world, which experts here and abroad said is in part a consequence of the Bush administration’s unpopularity around the world (...)"

"The adamant opposition of some Supreme Court justices to the citation of foreign law in their own opinions also plays a role, some foreign judges say."
Canadian readers will certainly be interested in what the article has to say about the Supreme Court of Canada:
"Many legal scholars singled out the Canadian Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court of South Africa as increasingly influential."

" 'In part, their influence may spring from the simple fact they are not American,' Dean [Anne-Marie] Slaughter [Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton] wrote in a 2005 essay, 'which renders their reasoning more politically palatable to domestic audience in an era of extraordinary U.S. military, political, economic and cultural power and accompanying resentments'."

"Frederick Schauer, a law professor at the University of Virginia, wrote in a 2000 essay that the Canadian Supreme Court had been particularly influential because 'Canada, unlike the United States, is seen as reflecting an emerging international consensus rather than existing as an outlier'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Amnesty International Report on Arms Transfers

United Nations member states will be meeting next month to consider moving towards negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty.

Yesterday, the international human rights organization Amnesty International published the report Blood at the Crossroads: Making the case for a global arms trade treaty in an effort to urge governments to prevent arms transfers where there is a substantial risk that they are likely to be used for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law:
"The report ... is the first detailed examination of the parameters and scope of such a treaty using nine detailed case studies of the catastrophic human rights consequences of unrestrained arms trading. From the ongoing conflict in Darfur, military crackdowns in Myanmar and Guinea to the proliferation of sectarian violence in Iraq, the report shows how and why the current variation and loopholes in national arms legislation allows massive violations of human rights to occur. The report demonstrates that without an effective human rights provision, a global Arms Trade Treaty could fail to protect those most vulnerable."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

AALL Spectrum Launches Blog

The AALL Spectrum, the monthly publication of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), has launched a blog.

It is intended to be "a tool to continue the conversation about law librarianship and the opportunities we face".

The AALL Washington Affairs Office already publishes the AALL Washington Blawg.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Legislative Histories of Selected U.S. Laws on the Internet

The Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. has revamped a very useful publication for people doing U.S. legal research: its Legislative Histories of Selected U.S. Laws on the Internet.

It lists free and commercial legislative histories for major pieces of U.S. legislation. Commercial sources include Lexis, Westlaw, and HeinOnline.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wiki on Forced Migration Issues

Librarian Elisa Mason, who has worked at the UN High Commission for Refugees and the Refugee Studies Centre in Oxford, has created the Forced Migration Guide using wiki software.

The guide offers descriptions of resources for the study of refugees, internal displacement and human trafficking.
"The principal audience for this guide is students in a higher education setting who require an introduction to the main research tools and information sources in their subject area of interest. However, it should also appeal to novice researchers based in non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, and international bodies who may not be familiar with the full range of information resources available to them beyond those produced by their individual offices. In addition, the guide can serve as an information primer to policy researchers who are increasingly called on to conduct comprehensive literature searches for the purpose of meeting the standards of evidence-based research. Finally, the guide should prove useful to librarians and information specialists who provide reference and research assistance to their users."
[Source: Intute Social Sciences]

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More News From Federal Library Web 2.0 Interest Group

In the summer, federal government librarians in Canada created a Web 2.0 Interest Group (WIG) to explore ways of incorporating collaborative technologies into their work.

The most recent meeting was held yesterday at Library and Archives Canada.

It was a great opportunity to see what work has been done on the Web 2.0 front. Here are a few of the projects mentioned at the roundtable that opened the meeting:

  • The Industry Canada library has launched an internal wiki and implemented RSS feeds for content
  • The Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information has launched a CISTI Facebook group, a wiki for posting known problems about its online services, and has created dozens of subject guides using delicious.com social bookmarks
  • The Bank of Canada is looking into creating wikis for its economists and for developing guidelines for the use of social networks by its employees
  • NSERC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, has utilized social networking tools to perform searches to find people who could potentially be contacted to be part of grant selection committees
  • The Communications Security Establishment, Canada's electronic intelligence agency, uses wikis, mashups and social bookmarking
  • The Privy Council Office is examining the possibility of using wikis and blogs to replace newsletters
  • Statistics Canada has started using screencasting software for e-training
  • Health Canada has been using screencasting software and will initiate chat reference when it relaunches its website redesign
  • Natural Resources Canada uses screencasting, wikis, blogs, and delicious.com and is about to move to an open source library management/cataloguing system that offers social tagging of content by users
  • the Public Service Commission will launch a blog pilot and wiki this fall and its library has started a delicious.com account
  • the Canadian Agriculture Library has set up a Web 2.0 team. Their pathfinder/research guide project is heavily based on delicious.com bookmarks

Earlier Library Boy posts about Web 2.0 in the Canadian government include:

  • Federal Library Community Forms Web 2.0 Interest Group (May 3, 2008): "We are proposing (...) to identify & publish a list of key resources on Web 2.0 specifically for federal libraries; to identify topics of interest in Web 2.0 for discussion, for example, wikis, RSS, collaborative technologies, open source, etc.; to identify departments engaged in Web 2.0 projects and to show the results to the community this fall."
  • Government of Canada: The Web 2.0 Genie Is Finally Out of the Bottle (June 6, 2008): "A contribution today on the FLC/CBF listserv (Federal libraries community/Collectivité des bibliothèques) pointed to examples of implementation of social networking on government Web sites: ... 'A comprehensive system for online collaboration and social networking projects by government departments is in the works. The project involves systems that can provide social networking capabilities for around 250,000 people and will cover 58 government departments. Key technology for this initiative is being provided by Waterloo, Ont.-based OpenText...' ".
  • Federal Library Web 2.0 Interest Group News (June 23, 2008): "Federal government librarians in Canada recently created a Web 2.0 Interest Group (WIG) to explore ways of incorporating wikis, RSS, collaborative technologies, open source, etc. into their work. he WIG's first meeting took place June 9 here in Ottawa. Here is a summary."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:27 pm 1 comments links to this post

Ten Library Blogs to Read in 2009

The LISNews library and information studies site is asking for nominations for the 10 Blogs To Read in 2009.

The goal is to find "10 blogs that, when followed as a group, paint a complete picture of what's going on in our little world."

Here are the winners from previous years:

Previous winners are not eligible for nomination in 2009.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 15, 2008

University of Ottawa Law Library Wiki on Legal Research

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

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Format Changes to Library of Congress Global Legal Monitor

The Global Legal Monitor, published by the Law Library of Congress in Washington, is one of my favourite sources of foreign legal news.

It is a publication that provides regular updates on legal developments from around the world on a vast array of topics. Content comes from official sources, judicial decisions, and other complementary legal news sources.

It used to come out as a monthly publication. It now appears as a constantly updated news stream.

It is also browsable by topic, by jurisdiction, or searchable by any combination of fields.

The complete archive month-by-month from May 2006 to July 2008 is also available in PDF format.

It is also now possible to subscribe to an RSS feed of the publication.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:10 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Guidelines For Practicing Ethically With New Information Technologies

The Canadian Bar Association has released Guidelines for Practicing Ethically with New Information Technologies:
"These Guidelines recommend best practices in the use of information technologies. This is not a set of mandatory rules. For those, please refer to your governing body’s code of professional conduct."

"These Guidelines supplement the CBA Code of Professional Conduct and, in doing so, to assist lawyers when they use new technologies."

"The Guidelines highlight best practices when using an information technology, with emphasis on the need to preserve the security of information and to maintain client confidentiality and privacy (...)"

"Inevitably, courts are being called on to make decisions about a lawyer’s ethical and legal responsibilities in response to the technology revolution. Some recent decisions have held that lawyers, in some circumstances, have an ethical obligation to use new technologies or, at least, have access to someone who can."

"The Ethics and Professional Issues Committee will update these Guidelines regularly so that they remain relevant and useful to practitioners. We would appreciate your help."
The Guidelines examine issues such as confidentiality, encryption, privilege, court rules on electronic storage, metadata, security of information, marketing practices, intellectual property issues regarding software, and participation by lawyers in online discussion fora.

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Nominations for Library Movers and Shakers 2009

Library Journal is calling on people to nominate Library Movers and Shakers: "50-plus up-and-coming individuals from across the United States and Canada who are innovative, creative, and making a difference".

Deadline for nominations is November 10, 2008. The 8th annual Movers & Shakers 2009 supplement will be distributed with the March 15, 2009 issue of the publication.

A list of the Movers and Shakers from 2002 to 2008 can be found on the right hand side of the Library Journal Archives page.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, September 12, 2008

RCMP Report on Taser Usage

The Toronto Star has obtained a study on the use of Taser stun guns that was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner.

The June 2008 study on "conducted energy weapons" (CEWs) was published by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, an independent civilian agency. The newspaper requested a copy under the Access to Information Act.

An interim report was issued in December 2007.

The study was undertaken in the wake of the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski on October 14, 2007. He died after four RCMP officers zapped him with a Taser at least two times in the Vancouver International Airport. The weapon discharges 50,000 volts into the target's body.

The report finds that the RCMP relied too much on the advice of the weapon's American manufacturer and did not consult enough with medical professionals.

According to the Executive Summary:

"Following the release of the Interim Report, the RCMP moved to implement some of the recommendations, albeit at a much slower rate than the Commission had expected. The RCMP failed to implement the primary recommendation of immediately reclassifying the CEW as an impact weapon and allowing for deployment only in situations where an individual was behaving in a manner classified as 'combative' or posing a risk of 'death or grievous bodily harm' to the member, themselves or the general public. The Commission reaffirms this recommendation. "

"The RCMP failed to implement the second recommendation related to 'excited delirium.' RCMP training teaches that 'excited delirium' is a medical emergency wherein gaining control of
the individual for the purpose of treatment is paramount and where the CEW is viewed as the best option to gain that control. The Commission disagrees with this perspective and reaffirms its recommendation."

"The Commission recommended that the RCMP institute and enforce stricter reporting structures. The RCMP is in the process of taking positive steps in this direction, and the Commission is aware that some Divisions are attempting to strengthen their reporting structures and oversight processes, albeit at differing speeds across the country. National uniformity is essential."

"The Commission also recommended that the RCMP produce both quarterly and annual statistical reports on CEW use by its members. The Commission has yet to see a quarterly report, though six (6) months have elapsed."

"The RCMP did appoint a National Use of Force Coordinator and to its credit some Divisions went further and proactively created a Divisional Use of Force Coordinator to augment the work being done at the national level (...)"

"The Commission continues to have three interrelated concerns: 1) that the inappropriate assessment of a subject’s behaviour has resulted in elevating the level of intervention beyond what was acceptable according to the RCMP’s use of force model; 2) that the position of the CEW on the use of force model allows for the deployment of the weapon far too early in police encounters; and 3) that RCMP data collection and analysis practices for the CEW usage database are both ineffective and inefficient. "

(...)

"The Final Report focuses on two main areas: an in-depth statistical analysis of the RCMP CEW database, and a comparative analysis of other police forces’ CEW policies."

More from today's Toronto Star.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Constitutional Scholar Gérald Beaudoin Passes Away

Former Senator Gérald Beaudoin, one of the giants of Canadian constitutional scholarship, passed away yesterday.

He was 79.

He was named to the Upper Chamber in 1988 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and retired in 2004 at the mandatory age of 75.

Beaudoin taught law at the University of Ottawa where he served as dean of civil law 1969 to 1979.

He was a member of the Pépin-Robarts Commission, 1977-79, co-chairman of the Beaudoin-Edwards and of the Beaudoin-Dobbie committees on constitutional renewal.

He also presided over the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs and was a member of the Senate committee on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

He was a prolific author on constitutional issues and translated and edited the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

More from Radio-Canada, including links to archival footage. CPAC also has a lengthy interview with the Senator from January 2008.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:52 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

U.S. Government Secrecy Continues To Rise

According to the Secrecy Report Card 2008 of the U.S. advocacy group OpenTheGovernment.org, U.S. government secrecy continued to rise in 2007.

It is the organization's fifth annual report assessing trends in public access to information in that Great Republic to the South.

A representative of the American Association of Law Libraries sits on the steering committee of the watchdog group that fights to push back government secrecy.

Among the highlights:
  • The American government spent $195 maintaining the secrets already on the books for every one dollar the government spent declassifying documents in 2007, a 5% increase in one year. At the same time, fewer pages were declassified than in 2006, even though the government spent the same amount of money on declassification. The intelligence agencies, which account for a large segment of the declassification numbers, are excluded from the total reported figures.
  • The total cost of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) implementation in 2007 across the government increased 16%. But a 2008 study by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government (CJOG) revealed that, in 2007, FOIA spending at the 25 agencies it examined fell by $7 million to $233.8 million and the agencies put 209 fewer people to work processing FOIA requests.
  • Almost 22 million FOIA requests were received in 2007, an increase of almost 2% over last year. Agencies are not, however, taking advantage of significant opportunities to reduce their backlogs: the 25 departments and agencies that handle the bulk of the third-party information requests received the fewest requests since reporting began in 1998 — 63,000 fewer than 2006 — but they processed only 2,100 more requests than they did in 2006 (when the backlog soared to a record 39%).
  • On average since 2000, non-competed contract funding makes up more than 25 percent of all awards. In FY 2007, 26.15 percent ($114.1 billion) of federal contract funding was given out without any competition; another 5 percent ($22.9 billion) was awarded without competition because of specific requirements. In 2000, 45 percent of contract dollars were awarded under full and open competition; by 2007, only 33 percent followed such open procedures — a drop of almost 25%.
  • With 2,371 secret surveillance orders approved in 2007, federal surveillance activity under the jurisdiction of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has risen for the 9th year in a row — more than doubling since 2000.
The report isn't entirely pessimistic, noting some progress in the U.S. Congress where many legislative proposals have been introduced to protect whistleblowers, increase transparency and accountability in federal spending, reduce overclassification of government information, and limit the use of the state secrets privilege.

Related Library Boy posts about Canadian government secrecy include:
  • Freedom of Information: Code of Silence 2006 Award Nominees (May 11, 2006): "The Canadian Association of Journalists has released the list of nominees for its sixth annual Code of Silence Award recognizing the most secretive government agency in Canada (...)."
  • Many Federal Departments Flunk in 2006-2007 Information Commissioner Report Card (May 30, 2007): "In his first annual report, the new federal Information Commissioner Robert Marleau concludes that a great many Canadian government agencies show a serious lack of transparency when it comes to access to government documents under the Access to Information Act : 'Despite much progress since 1983, there remain impediments to the full realization of Parliament’s intent as expressed in the Act. Too often, responses to access requests are late, incomplete, or overly-censored. Too often, access is denied to hide wrongdoing, or to protect officials or governments from embarrassment, rather than to serve a legitimate confidentiality requirement. Year after year, in the pages of these reports, information commissioners recount what is going wrong and offer views on how to make it right'."
  • Media Reports Government Wants to Can Access to Information Database (May 3, 2008): "The Toronto Star is reporting that the federal government is putting an end to the Coordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS), an internal database of every request filed to all federal departments and agencies under the Access to Information Act (ATIA) ... CAIRS was seen by lawyers, reporters, and government watchdog groups as a very useful resource. They could mine the information in the database, approach government departments and request copies of already released documents."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Slaw.ca Launches The Thomas Cromwell Pages

Slaw.ca, the Canadian collaborative blog on legal issues, has launched the Thomas Cromwell pages which deal with the nomination of Nova Scotia Appeal Court judge Thomas Cromwell to the Supreme Court of Canada:
"In these pages you will find a selection of his judgments, 10 things we think he will bring to the Court, a list of his writings, and an overview of the selection process by which the next justice will be chosen."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:51 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of August 15th to 31st, 2008 is 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 loan to authorized libraries.

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

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

University of Toronto Lab To Train Lawyers in Constitutional Challenges

The University of Toronto last week officially launched the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights.

The Centre was set up thanks to a $7.5 million donation from media executive David Asper, an alumnus of the University's law school.

A major focus of the Centre will be a clinic to bring together students, lawyers and scholars to take on constitutional cases.

The Sept. 6, 2008 issue of The National Post provides more converage in the article entitled New lab to study constitutional court challenges.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

CanLII Survey

According to a survey earlier this year commissioned by the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII), the open access legal database is the electronic legal resource most frequently used by lawyers across Canada.

The percentage of those surveyed who used the following resources at least one a week:
  • CanLII - 39%
  • Provincial sites for legislation – 34%
  • Commercial services – between 17% and 29%
  • Various secondary material sources – 29%
  • Courts’ websites – 21%
  • Library services - 15%
The actual text of the survey and the methodology are not available on the CanLII website so caution is advisable. However, based on anecdotal evidence, I have no doubt that CanLII's popularity is high, and growing.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 08, 2008

Federal Bills That Died On the Order Paper

With yesterday's dissolution of Canada's 39th federal Parliament, many important bills automatically died.

35 bills in fact, according to a tabulation in the Sept. 8, 2008 issue of The Hill Times:

"Of the 35 bills that died, 20 were at second reading in the House, nine were at the committee stage, one was at report stage and two were at third reading. Three were being studied in the Senate, two of which were at second reading and one was at committee."
Among the biggies:
  • C-10 on film tax credits
  • C-17 on immigration selection
  • C-19 on Senate appointments
  • C-25 on youth criminal justice
  • C-27 on identity theft
  • C-51 on food safety
  • C-61 on copyright reform

Background on House and Senate bills can be found on the Library of Parliament's LEGISinfo site.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Justice Canada Publishes Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

Justice Canada has published the final version of the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines:
"The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines were developed to bring more certainty and predictability to the determination of spousal support under the federal Divorce Act. The Advisory Guidelines project has been supported by the federal Department of Justice. The Advisory Guidelines were released three years ago, in January 2005, in the form of a Draft Proposal and have been used across Canada since then. Comments and feedback were provided and some revisions made. This document is the final version."

"The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are very different from the Federal Child Support Guidelines. They have not been legislated by the federal government. They are informal guidelines that will operate on an advisory basis only. The Advisory Guidelines will be used to determine the amount and duration of spousal support within the existing legal framework of the Divorce Act and the judicial decisions interpreting its provisions. The Guidelines are not legally binding and their adoption and use will be voluntary. They are intended as a practical tool to assist spouses, lawyers, mediators and judges in determining the amount and duration of spousal support in typical cases. The various components of the Guidelines — the basic formulas, restructuring, and exceptions — are intended to build upon current practice, reflecting best practices and emerging trends across the country."
The authors, 2 law professors, have also prepared a User's Guide.

[Source: Wise Law Blog]

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

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Law Librarian, Internet Radio Talk Show

My director here at the Supreme Court of Canada Library drew my attention to The Law Librarian, a live Internet radio talk show hosted by Richard Leiter and Brian Striman on BlogTalkRadio.

The launch of the new season is tomorrow, September 5 at 3PM Eastern Time. It will be an "open phone jam-session".

According to an e-mail from Leiter, professor and director of the law library at the University of Nebraska College of Law:

"We'd like to open the phones and have a discussion about what libraries do to welcome the new school year. What worked? What didn't? This will be an opportunity for librarians to share experiences and get ideas as they look ahead to next year. (...) The second hour will be a review of the past month's news and developments with our roving, rollicking tech-expert, Jim Milles."
People can listen to the show live on their computer, call in at (347) 945-7183 or register for live chat.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:41 pm 0 comments links to this post

Info Career Trends September 2008 Issue on Non-Traditional Jobs

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada Website Relaunch Tomorrow

Tomorrow evening, the Supreme Court of Canada will launch a new version of its website.

The new site has been redesigned to comply with the Common Look and Feel 2.0 design standards set by the Treasury Board of the Government of Canada.

The new standards:

  • provide consistent presentation of government services and content
  • facilitate online interaction
  • improve navigation, menuing and format elements
  • improve accessibility and ease of use

All of the content currently available on the Supreme Court of Canada website remains in place. It will just be easier to find and more pleasant to the eye.

Among the major changes:

  • breadcrumb navigation available on all pages
  • complete expandable menus for all content sections available on all pages
  • printer-friendly pages will contain only the middle-of-the-page content - menus and nav bars will not appear on print versions

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:47 am 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Canadian Law Libraries Association Job Satisfaction Survey

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) is conducting an online survey to determine the satisfaction levels of people who work in law libraries.

The survey will close September 30, 2008.

Results will be presented at the CALL 2009 conference next May in Halifax, and will also appear in Canadian Law Library Review.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:02 pm 1 comments links to this post

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ottawa Citizen Article: Public Servant Fights To Keep Personal Info Out of Fraud Investigation Report

Today's Ottawa Citizen reports on attempts by a former federal public servant to prevent the Public Service Commission from publishing his name and other personal information in reports available over the Internet relating to a fraud investigation.

The article entitled Former bureaucrat investigated for fraud fights to keep name secret explains this is just one in a growing number of disputes over the publication of court and administrative tribunal decisions on the Internet and the privacy issues this raises.

The Public Service Commission found that the individual in question committed fraud on a number of occasions.

According to The Citizen:

"The commission rarely publishes the names of bureaucrats it investigates, but it does have the power to decide if revealing their identity is in the public interest or not (...)"

"But Mr. X argues the commission never told him that his name and his family's personal information could be publicly revealed when it explained the consequences of its investigation. According to court documents, he claimed to pay little attention to the investigation because he was so distracted by the turmoil in his personal life. He was suffering from mental illness and fighting suicidal tendencies and his wife had problems with her first pregnancy that led to her hospitalization."
The case again raises the issue of the conflict between the well-established principle of open courts and protection of privacy. And as the article explains, the federal Privacy Commissioner has been dealing with an increasing number of complaints about the type of personal information included in tribunal rulings posted online.

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

Canadian Bar Association Conflict of Interest Report

The Canadian Bar Association Task Force looking into conflict of interest issues recently released its report:
"The Task Force is convinced that the current conflicts rules must change. We believe that clarity and harmony in the rules across the country will be beneficial to lawyers and to their clients. Clarity and harmony in the rules will also reduce the tactical use of conflict of interest challenges, a recent development that impedes the efficiency of our legal system and undermines public confidence in both our profession and the administration of justice in Canada."
The report presents 21 recommendations "to address the difficulties with the current conflicts rules, recognizing that it is up to the regulatory bodies to decide on codes of professional conduct and up to the courts to decide how to apply the rules in the codes within the context of the law and the public interest." (p. iii).

The document provides a summary and discussion of relevant caselaw from the Supreme Court of Canada, an analysis of the issues that are arising in legal services in the 21st century and the impact they have on conflict questions (law firm mergers, mobility of lawyers), confidentiality, who exactly is a client, etc.

Finally, the report offers a conflict of interest toolkit.

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