Monday, May 01, 2006

Osgoode Hall Conference Says Supreme Court Going Soft

Last Friday, Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto held its 2005 Constitutional Cases conference, the "9th Annual Conference on the Supreme Court of Canada’s Constitutional Decisions".

The conference promotes itself as "the leading constitutional law conference in Canada".

According to an article in the April 29, 2006 edition of the Ottawa Citizen entitled "High court's record softens on Charter" (available to subscribers only), many court watchers in attendance felt that the Court's "rulings last year show it was more conservative than any time in recent history, refusing to accept most Charter of Rights claims, deferring to government laws and taking a 'minimalist view' of its role."

With the exception of the Chaoulli ruling, in which the majority of the Court decided that provinces cannot ban private health insurance if medically necessary services are not available in a timely fashion in the public system, legal experts concluded the Supreme Court has recently provided little fodder for critics of "judicial activism". Last year, it sided with Charter of Rights claimants in only three of 15 constitutional cases.

But not everyone at the conference agreed that Canada's top court has suddenly turned into a deferential institution. For one thing, Patrick Monahan, Osgoode Hall dean, stated that the pattern is just a "snapshot" and can reverse itself in the future.

As well, University of Western Ontario law professor Grant Huscroft commented that the Court may simply be respecting the diverse institutional roles of government and the judiciary.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:13 pm


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