Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ontario Creates Law Reform Commission

Last week, the Government of Ontario established a new Law Commission of Ontario. Its predecessor, known as the Ontario Law Reform Commission, had been abolished in 1995 by the previous provincial Conservative government.

Much of the funding will be provided by partners outside of government so that the institution is less vulnerable to political change or interference.

Partners include Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, the deans of Ontario's law schools, the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

In late September, the federal Conservative government eliminated all of its funding for the Law Commission of Canada, which has announced that it will be shutting down operations this month.
In a December 1, 2006 editorial, Investing in Justice, the Toronto Star wrote:

"So why, after 10 years, does Ontario need such a body? Because governments should not have 'a monopoly over assessing and reforming the justice system,' as [Attorney General] Bryant points out. A provincial commission is desirable because the provinces are responsible for the administration of justice. This will give scholars, judges, lawyers and others an independent forum in which to examine sensitive social policy issues that governments may not want to tackle. By insulating it from political meddling, Bryant has ensured that the commission can feel free to give the justice system impartial scrutiny, and push legal frontiers, on behalf of all of us."

The Globe and Mail, in an article entitled Ontario unveils law-reform commission, explained:

"Historically, law commissions have delved into issues such as improving rules of evidence, simplifying criminal offences and considering reforms in contentious areas such as abortion or environmental prosecutions (...) Ontario's new law commission will recommend ways to improve the administration of justice, devise practical solutions to legal problems and explore new legal terrain. [Bryant] said that law commissions play a vital role because they have the freedom to consider issues which governments either lack the time to study or which are considered too politically risky."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:34 pm


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