Thursday, July 31, 2008

IFLA Journal Overview of Libraries in Canada

The latest issue of the IFLA Journal contains a profile of libraries in Canada in honour of the IFLA Annual Conference taking place next month in Quebec City. The profile starts at page 127.

They even mention the Supreme Court of Canada Library as one of the major government libraries... see p. 151. OK, it is only in passing. But a nice pat on the back anyway.

IFLA is the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:37 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Another Source For Finding Law Firm Newsletters

Fee Fie Foe Firm Canada is a new custom search engine in beta for searching across Canadian law firm websites.

It indexes content from all manner of law firms, big and small. This includes practice group and individual profiles, press releases, news releases, case analysis, and publications such as newsletters.

Earlier Library Boy posts on finding law firm newsletters include:
[Source: British Columbia Courthouse Library Society]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:40 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Canadian Parliamentary Committee Report on Taser Stun Guns

The most recent Government of Canada's Weekly Checklist (dated July 25, 2008) lists a report on the Taser stun gun by the federal parliament's Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security:
"On October 14, 2007, Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport several minutes after receiving two electrical shocks from a Taser1 gun administered by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers summoned to the scene following a complaint about a man behaving in an agitated manner. The first shock was administered less than a minute after the officers arrived on the scene. This tragic event angered people all over the world, who witnessed Mr. Dziekanski’s final moments on an amateur video broadcast widely over Canadian and international media in mid-November (...)"

"Between January 30 and April 28, 2008, the Committee heard from experts in medicine, biomedical engineering and ethics to discuss the effects of Taser gun discharges on the health and safety of persons subjected to them, the research being done in this area and the role of such weapons in police work ... The Committee also heard evidence from the President of Taser International, which supplies the conducted energy weapons (CEWs) used by the RCMP and other Canadian police services, the Executive Director of the Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC), the RCMP, the Vancouver and Toronto police services, the Ontario Police College, the Toronto Police Services Board, the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, and British Columbia’s Police Complaints Commissioner (...)"

"To prevent confidence in the RCMP from eroding further, the Committee considers that the RCMP must react immediately by revising its policy on CEWs to stipulate that use of such weapons can be justified only in situations where a subject is displaying assaultive behaviour or represents a threat of death or grievous bodily harm. This immediate restriction is necessary given the persisting uncertainty about the effects of CEW technology on the health and safety of persons subjected to it, and the scarcity of independent, peer-reviewed research in this regard. The Committee also urges the RCMP to implement preventive methods designed to diminish the use of Taser guns during police interventions, in particular by enhancing accountability at the RCMP and improving officer training on intervention involving persons suffering from various problems, including bipolar disorder, autism and autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and drug addiction."
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.

Other Library Boy posts on the Taser weapon include:
  • Canada Orders Review of Use of Tasers After Video of Polish Immigrant's Death Released (November 15, 2007): "Yesterday's Globe and Mail recounts 'Tasered man's last moments' and provides links to the 10-minute amateur video of Dziekanski being shot with the Taser, convulsing and screaming in pain, being subdued by police and then going silent and no longer moving."
  • RCMP Told To Curb Taser Use (December 15, 2007): "Earlier this week, Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, released an interim report outlining recommendations for the government on the Mounties' use of the Taser stun guns. The Commission is an independent civilian agency. Kennedy's report does not call for a moratorium on the weapon. However, it concludes that the federal police force needs to limit its use, increase training for officers and conduct more research on its effects."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:18 pm 0 comments

Amnesty International Report: Repression Increases in Run-Up To Beijing Olympics

In a report released today, Amnesty International has stated that the human rights situation in China has continued to deteriorate in the weeks preceding the opening of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, despite promises by the Chinese government to improve respect for rights and freedoms.

In areas such as administrative detentions, the crackdown against activists, and Internet censorship, the situation has either not changed or become worse.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic:
  • China Crackdown on Human Rights Intensifying Before 2008 Olympics (April 7, 2008): "The human rights organization Amnesty International recently published a report documenting the intensifying campaign of repression by Chinese authorities before the opening of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing later this year."
  • Beijing Olympics: Corporate Sponsors Risk Black Eye (April 23, 2008): "The international NGO Human Rights Watch recently published a report on the upcoming Beijing Summer Olympics that states that the 'corporate sponsors of the Olympics risk lasting damage to their brands if they do not live up to their professed standards of corporate social responsibility by speaking out about the deteriorating human rights situation in China'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:06 pm 1 comments

Which Classic Are You Ashamed To Admit You Have Never Read?

The British newspaper The Telegraph cornered some famous authors at a literary festival on the other side of the Pond and asked them to confess to a famous book they haven't read.

It is all based on a game called Humiliation:
"You can't just plead that, gosh, though you simply ADORE Perec you blush to admit you only got halfway through La Disparation in the original French. You only score points in the game according to how many other players HAVE read it."

"So in the David Lodge story that popularised this gruesome entertainment, an academic wins the game - but loses his job - by confessing: 'Hamlet'. It was with his downfall in mind that we hit on our idea."

"During this year's Ways With Words festival at Dartington Hall, Devon, we would collar our guests and ask: what's the book you're most ashamed of never having read?"

"Would the eminent Cambridge classicist admit to The Iliad? Would V S Naipaul's old editor cop to A Bend In The River?"

"Or would the former schoolmate of a fellow guest confess - with apparent relish - to never having read a word his old friend has written?"
Earlier Library Boy posts on the matter:
  • Great Books I Have Not Read (April 5, 2005): "A Robert Fulford column in today's National Post caught my eye. It was entitled 'The great unread: Many have bought these books, but has anyone ever finished them?' ... There is a twisted theory that publishing may in fact depend for its survival on printing 'famous' books everyone feels obliged to buy but that no one really ever reads or finishes. Fulford quotes some learned commentators on the subject. Anthony Burgess thinks this is probably a good thing. If you don't read those books, you'll never know how bad most truly are and so you can't feel depressed or angry that you've been duped into shelling out $40 for garbage."
  • Book Snobbery - People Lie About What They Read To Appear Sexy (January 27, 2007): "Earlier this week, Resourceshelf reported on a study by the U.K. Museums, Libraries and Archive Council according to which 'A third of British adults have lied about reading a book to appear more intelligent according to a new survey'. As well: 'One in ten men said they would fib about reading a certain book to impress the opposite sex ...' ."
But never be ashamed about all your bold-faced literary lies, there is a brilliant little book I recommend to all my friends: How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Paris psychoanalyst and university professor Pierre Bayard.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:39 pm 0 comments

Monday, July 28, 2008

Updated Research Guide on International Sports Law

Just in time for the Beijing Olympics.

The GlobaLex collection at the New York University School of Law has just updated its International Sports Law research guide.

It looks at the key institutions governing international sports and provides information and links to federations governing individual sports at an international level, bodies associated with the Olympic Games and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. There are sections on doping, women and sports, violence as well as suggested sports law bibliographies, databases and periodicals.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:29 pm 0 comments

Ontario Report on Reforming Legal Aid

The Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario recently published the Report of the Legal Aid Review 2008.

Professor Michael Trebilcock of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law was asked last summer to undertake a review of the legal aid system in the province.

According to the summary:

"The terms of reference required Professor Trebilcock to conduct a review of legal aid in Ontario since 1999, including a consideration of the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998 and regulations, focusing on the tools and capacities to maximize effective administration and good governance of the legal aid system, and examining alternatives to the current tariff process, including methods of ensuring regular reviews to set and adjust the hourly rate paid to lawyers doing legal aid work. He was specifically mandated to work with Legal Aid Ontario, to consider best practices in other jurisdictions, to take into account the historical context of legal aid in Ontario, and to hold such consultations as he considered appropriate."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:21 pm 0 comments

Friday, July 25, 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 July 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 8:55 am 0 comments

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More on Retired Supreme Court Justice Bastarache's Record

Earlier this month, I mentioned a report by the conservative non-profit Canadian Constitution Foundation called Judging Bastarache.

The report sought to evaluate Supreme Court of Canada Justice Michel Bastarache's record on "individual and economic freedom". Justice Bastarache retired from the Court in June of this year.

The evaluators have now been evaluated.

The Osgoode Hall Law School blog The Court today published an article entitled Judging "Judging Bastarache":

"It would be manifestly unfair to criticize Judging Bastarache for having an ideological underpinning. It is seldom, if ever that empirical research is entirely devoid of such an underpinning (...)

"However, even a cursory glance at Judging Bastarache betrays the report’s squarely conservative bent. Perhaps most strikingly, the authors characterize the majority decision in Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General), [2005] 1 S.C.R. 791 - a case widely believed to be a forerunner to increased privatization of Canadian healthcare — as 'Pro Freedom' and, by extension, the dissenting opinion as 'Anti Freedom'."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:25 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Unanswerable Reference Questions

The most recent issue of the Law Library Journal takes an interesting look at how reference librarians should react when a patron asks them an "unanswerable question", something which happens periodically here at the Supreme Court of Canada Library (yes, sad to say, despite our large collection and skilled staff, we are lacking in godlike powers, though we try to cultivate an image of omniscient wisdom).

The article by Mary Whisner, Reference Librarian at the University of Washington School of Law, is called Unanswerable Questions:

"I have encountered some types of unanswerable questions repeatedly: those that ask for a prediction, those that ask for data that hasn’t been gathered or documents that haven’t been released, and—perhaps most frustrating—those where the patron is sure of a few details of a document that are hard to match up with anything we can find. I’d like to discuss each of these types and then talk a little about what we do with the unanswerables (...) "

"Whether a question is truly unanswerable or simply stumps us, we serve ourselves and our patrons well if we explain our thinking and our research process. It’s not enough to say, 'I looked but I couldn’t find what you asked for.' If we explain where we looked and what we tried, it helps the patron understand why we weren’t able to find the answer. That might persuade the patron that the answer isn’t findable (with the resources available). Or the patron might come up with other ideas for searching—perhaps a clue that was omitted in the first request or a synonym for the search terms we’d used..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:05 pm 0 comments

New E-Book on Plain Language

Over at the Vancouver Law Librarian Blog, there was an item yesterday about Plain Legal Language - A New Book & Interview with Cheryl Stephens.

The post contains an interview with Ms. Stephens, the author of the Building Rapport plain language blog and author of a new e-book entitled Plain Language Legal Writing.

Related Library Boy posts that deal with plain language include:
  • Plain Language Resources for Law, Business, Government, and Life (August 9, 2005): "Clear language or plain language refers to jargon-free, understandable language. For the past 20 years or more, an international movement has been working to make the language used in law, health information, financial services, commerce and business more accessible. Plain language does NOT mean dumbed down or simplistic vocabulary."
  • Move Toward Plain Language in Canadian Court Decisions (November 7, 2005): "Saturday's Globe and Mail contains an article by Richard Blackwell entitled 'Doing the write thing: Judges used to put out decisions that were incomprehensible. Now they are sometimes even eloquent. The writing lessons didn't hurt'... As the article explains, the Supreme Court has been removing Latin words from its rulings and altering the format to make them easier to follow for people reading electronic versions on a website. The clear language push is also being promoted in Canada by such organizations as the National Judicial Institute and the Montreal-based Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, where new judges have their writing critiqued by English professors."
  • Myths About the Complexity of Legal Language (November 17, 2006): "The Social Science Research Network has published a forthcoming article on Some Myths about Legal Language by Professor Peter Tiersma of the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles (...) Excerpts from the final section of the full-text: (...) 'Thus, the main obstacle to writing the law in plain English is that, unless the law itself is vastly simplified, it will require the use of so many words that there will be nothing plain about it. Most advocates of plain English recognize this problem. Although they continue to agitate for plainer language in legal documents, including statutes, they realize that many parts of the law are too complex to allow them to be fully and comprehensibly explained to ordinary citizens. They therefore advocate that those legal areas in which citizens have particular interest, like criminal law, be officially summarized and explained'."
  • George Orwell and Plain Language in Law (June 25, 2007): "Judith D. Fischer, University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, has an article on the Social Science Research Network entitled Why George Orwell's Ideas About Language Still Matter for Lawyers. The article deals with the use of clear language in legal writing but also analyses the use of deceit in legal and political discourse in the United States ..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:29 am 0 comments

Future of Law Library Print Collections

The most recent issue of the Law Library Journal (vol. 100, no. 3) has an article entitled By the Book: Thoughts on the Future of Our Print Collections by Rita Reusch (S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah).

"A few years ago, I co-chaired an AALL committee called The Future of Law Libraries in a Digital Age. The committee’s report, Beyond the Boundaries, described many scenarios on future directions of law libraries. One of the academic law library scenarios discussed the evolution of the virtual law library, and the transition from print collections to the virtually all-electronic law library. My participation in the discussions of the committee and the development of the committee’s report stimulated my personal views and expectations regarding the direction and roles of academic law libraries."

"The scope of the Beyond the Boundaries report goes well beyond the future of our print collections. But the scope of this piece focuses on that precise issue. What we didn’t dwell on in the course of envisioning our future were the practicalities and the minutiae and the uncertainties of moving our institutions away from print. The process of actually transitioning a physical, print-based library collection to an all (or mostly all) electronic one can be painful and controversial— and a lot of work."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:14 am 0 comments

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Youth Corrections Statistics Released

Yesterday, Statistics Canada released a report entitled Youth custody and community services that shows that fewer young people aged 12 to 17 are being admitted to youth corrections since the enactment of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).

Among the report highlights:
"In 2005/2006, the third year following the implementation of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), there were 3,724 youth admitted to sentenced custody, 14% fewer than the previous year and 18% fewer than in 2003/2004, the fiscal year in which the YCJA was implemented. Declines occurred in both secure and open custody admissions. "

"There were 12,550 admissions to probation in 2005/2006, marking a 2% decline from the previous year and a 24% decrease since the implementation of the YCJA in 2003/2004. Probation continued to account for 37% of all admissions to youth correctional services programs."
Enacted on April 1, 2003, the YCJA's aim was to achieve a more balanced approach to youth crime, with the most serious delinquents serving longer sentences, and youth who have committed less serious offences being diverted to community services.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:23 pm 0 comments

Monday, July 21, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada 1967-1985 Judgments Added to LexUM Site

The Supreme Court of Canada/LexUM website, where the Court's judgments are published, has recently added all of the Supreme Court of Canada decisions published from 1967 to 1985.

The additional documents were digitized in co-operation with CanLII, the Canadian Legal Information Institute, the free open source portal.

Decisions after 1969 are available in both official languages, while decisions published in the Supreme Court Reports prior to 1970 are available in the original language of publication only.

Previously, the Court had announced the addition of all decisions originating in Ontario.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:00 pm 0 comments

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Toronto Star Feature Series on Crime and Punishment

The Toronto Star has started an in-depth look at recent moves by the federal government to "get tough" on crime by increasing sentences for major offenders and by boosting the number of crimes for which mandatory minimum sentences will be imposed.

The series is entitled Crime and Punishment and looks at popular perceptions of crime rates, the costs of incarcerating more people, the impact of tougher criminal laws on poor and aboriginal Canadians, crime in the suburbs, etc.

It also provides links to documents used by the team of reporters and researchers to develop the series.


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:30 pm 0 comments

Friday, July 18, 2008

Refugee Country of Origin Information Collection

I came across another source of refugee information earlier this week.

The European Country of Origin Information Network provides access to "up-to-date and publicly available country of origin information with a special focus on the needs of asylum lawyers, refugee counsels and persons deciding on claims for asylum and other forms of international protection."

It is possible to search by country, by keyword, by authoring organization or type of document.

There is also a Refugee Law Reader.

The European Country of Origin Information Network includes the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD), the Berlin-based Informationsverbund Asyl, the Médecins Sans Frontières Belgium office, and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

Earlier Library Boy posts about refugee country of origin information sources include:
  • "Forced Migration Online": An International Refugee Portal (October 27, 2005): "Forced Migration Online describes itself as 'a comprehensive web site that provides access to a diverse range of relevant information resources on forced migration' (...) The subject coverage includes: Causes of flight; Conditions in countries of origin (...); Responses to forced migration situations (e.g., emergency assistance, relief programmes, legal protection/asylum, resettlement, international humanitarian law, compensation, etc.); Experiences of forced migrants (e.g., adaptation, health, psychosocial issues, racism, etc.); Special groups (e.g., gender issues, children, indigenous peoples, etc.); Repatriation/return (e.g., post-war reconstruction, development/livelihood programmes, etc.)..."
  • Background Material on Asylum Producing Countries (November 11, 2006): "ResourceShelf recently drew my attention to the Country of origin information service of the United Kingdom's Home Office: 'Country of Origin Information Service (COI Service) exists to provide accurate, objective, sourced and up-to-date information on asylum seekers' countries of origin, for use by ... officials involved in the asylum determination process'. Other sources of information about 'asylum-producing countries' include: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Country of Origin information (...); Country of Origin Research Documents (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada) (...); National Documentation Packages (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada) (...)"
  • RefWorld: UN Agency Launches Online Refugee Country of Origin Information Collection (June 15, 2007): "Refworld contains a vast collection of reports relating to situations in countries of origin, policy documents and positions, and documents relating to international and national legal frameworks. The information has been carefully selected and compiled from UNHCR's global network of field offices, Governments, international, regional and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and judicial bodies."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:16 pm 0 comments

LexisNexis Vs. Westlaw Survey Analysis

As part of its Legal Research Paper Series, Stanford University's Law School recently published a study entitled Law Librarians and LexisNexis vs. Westlaw: Survey Results:

"As costs for research tools, both online and paper, continue to increase, librarians are often faced with the difficult decision of what materials can and should be canceled, and what new acquisitions can be made."

"The survey, titled 'LexisNexis vs. Westlaw,' was designed to answer a few of our key questions: which database could be canceled?, what some of the effects might be from cancellation?, and what low cost or free legal research alternatives are available and recommended? (...) "

"To get a representative set of law librarian responses, we e-mailed fellow law librarians using group listservs, including (for members of the American
Association of Law Libraries), (for law library directors) and (for private firm law librarians)."

"(...) We opened the survey up for responses on April 25, 2008. We closed the survey on May 5, 2008. During the time window while the survey was open, the online survey was visited 953 times. One hundred and twenty-two respondents partially completed the survey, and there were 723 completed surveys by May 5th."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:00 pm 0 comments

Amnesty International Canada's Annual Business and Human Rights Report

Amnesty International Canada's annual Business and Human Rights newsletter is now available for download.

The BHR newsletter provides an overview of the organization's work over the past year, and highlights important business and human rights issues to pay attention to in the future.

Among the topics covered are:
  • Investment policies of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
  • Canadian law on business and human rights
  • Indigenous people and development projects
  • Corporate social responsibility at Export Development Canada, the federal export credit agency
  • Canada-Columbia free trade talks
  • Private military security companies
  • Internet censorship in China

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:44 am 0 comments

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Canadian Crime Rate Declines For 3rd Consecutive Year

According to Statistics Canada, the country's crime rate declined for the third year in a row in 2007:
"The 7% drop in the national crime rate was driven mainly by decreases in counterfeiting and high-volume property offences such as theft $5,000 and under, break-ins and motor vehicle thefts."

"Following two years of increases in most serious violent offences, police reported fewer homicides, attempted murders, sexual assaults and robberies in 2007."

"Police-reported crime rates were down in all provinces and territories, except Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon."

"After rising in 2006, the overall crime rate among youth aged 12 to 17 declined slightly in 2007. While non-violent offences committed by youth fell, youth violent crime remained stable."

"Crime rates continue to be highest in Western Canada and the territories. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan once again reported the highest overall crime rate as well as the highest violent crime rate."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:43 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, July 16, 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 June 17th to 30th, 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 7:56 pm 0 comments

Sudan, Crimes Against Humanity and Bush

A truly big week on the international human rights front.

As everyone knows, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo applied for an arrest warrant on Monday for the Sudanese President on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for his role in the ongoing atrocities against civilians in the Darfur region.

There is lots of background information on the issue. Here is some of it:
  • ICC: Good Progress Amid Missteps in First Five Years (Human Rights Watch, July 11, 2008): "The International Criminal Court (ICC) has made notable progress in bringing justice for the worst crimes despite mistakes in policy and practice, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today that assesses the court’s first five years. Human Rights Watch urged greater international support of the ICC to meet the political and financial challenges ahead."
  • Sudan and the International Criminal Court: a guide to the controversy (Open Democracy, July 14, 2008): "The request to indict Sudan's president on charges of genocide and war crimes in Darfur is a historic moment in international justice. But is it wise, and will it bring peace in Sudan nearer or destabilise the country further? Alex de Waal presents the many sides of a vigorous debate..."
  • The Omar al-Bashir indictment: the ICC and the Darfur crisis (Open Democracy, July 15, 2008): "A decade after 120 states met in Rome in July 1998 to approve a treaty creating the International Criminal Court (ICC), its prosecutor has moved the court to the centre of world attention. The decision of its prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on 14 July 2008 to charge Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes is a transformative event for the ICC and for the intractable Darfur war. If The Hague-based ICC's pre-trial chamber confirms the prosecutor's charges, it will mark the court's first indictment of a head of state and its first genocide indictment ..."
  • The Pursuit of Justice vs. the Pursuit of Peace (New York Times, July 11, 2008): "But the complexity and fragility of Sudan’s multiple conflicts have led many diplomats, analysts and aid workers to worry that the Sudanese government could lash out at the prosecutor’s move by expelling Western diplomats and relief workers who provide aid to millions of people displaced by the fighting, provoking a vast crisis and shutting the door to vital diplomatic efforts to bring lasting peace. The dueling objectives have exposed a growing tension: between justice and peace, that is, between the prosecution of war criminals and the compromises of diplomacy."
  • Prosecuting Sudan's leader (International Herald Tribune, July 15, 2008) : "In the meantime, the indictments may delegitimize the government in the eyes of the Sudanese people, especially the elites in Khartoum. In 1999, after the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslovia issued its arrest warrant for Milosevic, an opposition group called Otpor turned it into a political weapon with the slogan, 'He is finished.' Milosevic lost the elections in 2000. Although other factors contributed to his fall, including lost wars and corruption, the indictments played their part by demonstrating his isolation (...) In the story of the emperor's new clothes, a little boy is the only one who has the innocence to point out that the emperor is naked. The arrest warrants for Bashir reveal to the world what type of regime holds power in Khartoum. They should also push the Security Council to apply real pressure on the Sudanese government. The council and its member states should make Bashir's government an international pariah, imposing sanctions against its leaders and, most important, Sudan's oil exports, which have so effectively insulated the regime. The prosecutor's message might make some people uncomfortable, but that does not mean we should shoot the messenger. This crisis should galvanize the Security Council to take serious action." [written by Richard Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.]

And, finally, of course, the question many informed and intelligent people I know have been asking themselves: Indicting Sudan's President for War Crimes: Could George Bush be Next? (Jurist, University of Pittsburgh Law School, July 15, 2008): "Many in the international community consider President George W. Bush to be manifestly guilty of war crimes in his conduct of the Iraq War and openly wonder whether he or any in his administration could be held to account for that conduct. Like Sudan, the United States is not a member of the Rome Statute that created the ICC. And, as in the Sudan case, President Bush is a sitting head of state. Yet, the leader of Sudan now finds himself in the ICC's crosshairs. So what about President Bush?"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:09 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

2007-2008 Annual Report of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner

The most recent annual report of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner of Canada has been made available.

The Establishment, or CSE, is Canada's national cryptologic agency working under the control of the Department of National Defence.

CSE code-breakers protect the Government of Canada's IT infrastructure from hostile attacks and provide foreign signals intelligence services (electronic espionage). It also provides technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies.

The Commissioner, the Honourable Charles D. Gonthier, Q.C., is the official watchdog over the agency's activities, which include intercepting, decoding, and analyzing phone calls, e-mails and other electronic communications of Canada's international adversaries.

Gonthier is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:39 pm 0 comments

Animal Law Growing In Canada

From today's Globe and Mail, an article entitled The new legal hot topic: animal law:

"Animal law classes are the hot new offering at Canadian law schools. The University of Toronto and Queen's University will both start teaching animal law this fall, joining at least six other Canadian universities where dogs and cats are already on the curriculum."

"Before you reel at the notion of Rover retaining a lawyer to petition for 10 walks a day or the fish suing the cat for harassment, fear not. It's a serious field of study; even in the U.S., where animal law is more developed and lawsuits are much easier to pursue, courts have not been overrun by frivolous Fido filings."

"Some experts compare animal law today to environmental law in the 1970s - just emerging from its reputation as a special-interest niche (with a tinge of left-wing loony) to become a solid discipline that is widely accepted and potentially lucrative for practitioners."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:36 pm 0 comments

Monday, July 14, 2008

New York Times Supreme Court Reporter Retires

Linda Greenhouse, who covered the U.S. Supreme Court for The New York Times for 27 years, is retiring this week.

At my library, we have had the pleasure of monitoring her articles for our current awareness service dealing with significant foreign court judgments.

She reflected on her career in yesterday's New York Times in an article entitled 2,691 Decisions.

During her years covering the U.S. Supreme Court, she won a number of major journalism awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting in 1998.

In January, she will begin a new job at Yale Law School as the Journalist in Residence.

The New York Times website offers an archive of Greenhouse's articles.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:17 pm 0 comments

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Legal Needs Assessment Projects Across Canada

The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice has drawn attention in recent days to a number of projects to evaluate the needs of Canadians when it comes to access to the justice system.
The objectives of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice are:
  • collecting in a systematic way information relating to the system for administering civil justice;
  • carrying out in-depth research on matters affecting the operation of the civil justice system;
  • promoting the sharing of information about the use of best practices;
    functioning as a clearinghouse and library of information for the benefit of all persons in Canada concerned with civil justice;
  • developing liaisons with similar organizations in other countries to foster exchanges of information across national borders; and
  • taking a leadership role in providing information concerning civil justice reform initiatives and developing effective means of exchanging this information

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:18 pm 0 comments

Updated Interpretation of Convention Refugee Definition in Canadian Case Law

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, the federal government agency that hears refugee claims, has just updated its Interpretation of the Convention Refugee Definition in the Case Law.

According to the introduction:
"The interpretation of the Convention refugee definition is an ongoing process, of which the Refugee Protection Division (RPD), formerly the Convention Refugee Determination Division (CRDD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is a major player, it being the body in Canada which adjudicates claims in the first instance. Some issues have been settled by the Courts, others remain unanswered. One of the difficulties in summarizing the basic principles in this area of the law is that many of the Court decisions are fact specific and do not establish general principles of law. We have also identified those areas in which the case law is
conflicting or unsettled."

"In this paper, we have attempted to identify those principles of law which are settled and to indicate how the Courts have applied those principles to some particular situations. In reading the cases themselves, we caution keeping in mind the need to distinguish between a case that sets out a legal principle and a case that applies the law to particular facts."

"Reference will be made to the decisions of the Federal Court and Supreme Court of Canada which interpret the Convention refugee definition. Foreign case law and CRDD decisions are not generally included in this paper. Where applicable, reference is also made to the UNHCR Handbook, and to the relevant IRB Legal Services Commentaries, Preferred Position Papers and Chairperson’s Guidelines issued by the IRB."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:01 pm 0 comments

CanLII Offers Multi-Database Search

The CanLII portal (Canadian Legal Information Institute) is now offering the ability to search any combination of databases across Canadian jurisdictions.

According to a recent CanLII blog post:
"Upon clicking on each jurisdiction on the screen, a panel will open smoothly and it will offer you a list of all available databases for that particular jurisdiction. From that list, you will be able to select the databases that you wish to search."

"By default, no databases are selected, so you have to choose at least one before you launch your search."

"A counter indicates how many databases you have selected in every jurisdiction. You can also use shortcuts to select all databases at once."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:56 pm 0 comments

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Library and Archives Canada Online Exhibit About Sir John A. Macdonald

Library and Archives Canada has a new online exhibit devoted to the life and career of one of the architects of Confederation, Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald:
"As well as presenting an exhibition of photographs, documentary art and other unique records held at Library and Archives Canada, this Web project introduces tens of thousands of pages from Macdonald's political papers and correspondence that will be made available online for the first time in 2008, enabling all Canadians to learn about Macdonald's life, career and legacy."
It is also possible to read his biography in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, also on the website of Library and Archives Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:31 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Canadian Export Financing To Be Tied To Respect For Human Rights

Socially responsible investment is an area of interest to me so the following article in the magazine Embassy attracted my attention: EDC Gives Nod to Human Rights Considerations - But the jury is still out on whether the Crown corporation has gone far enough:

"With an eye on a recent report tabled by the UN's special representative on corporate social responsibility, Export Development Canada has adopted a policy of considering potential human rights impacts before approving transactions in developing countries."
The export credit agency is a wholly-owned agency of the federal government.

Groups like Amnesty International welcome the initiative but are not sure it goes far enough:

"Fiona Koza, campaigner for business and human rights at Amnesty International Canada, said the human rights organization takes heart in EDC's promise to continue strengthening its human rights policies, but criticized the policy statement as vague and 'a pretty tiny first step'. (...) 'But the statement falls far short of what is required. I think it's largely restating their measures that are already in place, which are entirely voluntary and not very transparent'."

"Ms. Koza said what's needed are changes to the Export Development Act that would mandate human rights assessments and policies. As things stand now, she said, human rights considerations are entirely voluntary."

"In addition, Amnesty would like to see EDC disclose its human rights assessments, and build in third-party monitoring and procedures that must be followed when projects don't comply with human rights."
Other Library Boy posts on business and human rights include:
  • Weekly Updates Available from Business and Human Rights Database (March 22, 2005): "Corporate profiles include news stories, items about investigations, lawsuits and enforcement actions, as well as official responses (...) The Centre has also just introduced a new feature, Weekly Updates, which are e-mail alerts with an interesting twist: companies are invited to respond to reports that criticise them, and the responses are included. This is to help keep the updates balanced and encourage companies to publicly address important labour and human rights concerns being raised by civil society organizations such as labour unions, development associations, Third World NGOs, and human rights organizations."
  • Amnesty International UK and USA's Human Rights, Trade and Investment Matters (June 28, 2006): "I picked up a reference to this document at the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. The UK and USA branches of the international human rights NGO Amnesty International released a collection of articles last month that explore the connections between trade, investment and human rights, and consider the potential for integrating human rights into trade and investment agreements."
  • List of Documents Prepared by the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on Business and Human Rights (January 16, 2008): "A few years ago, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed a special representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations. That person's job is to identify standards of corporate responsibility; develop materials for human rights impact assessments of the activities of corporations abroad; elaborate on the role of States in effectively regulating corporations when it comes to human rights; and compile a compendium of best practices of States and corporations."
  • Human Rights Watch Report on Business and Human Rights (February 22, 2008): "There are no widely agreed overarching standards for all businesses, but instead many different standards that address select human rights, select companies or industries, or select countries or situations. The result is a messy and inconsistent patchwork of voluntary pledges that have limited application, generally do not fully align with international human rights norms, and in any case are frequently disregarded in practice (...)"
  • 'Corporate Culture' as a Basis for the Criminal Liability of Corporations (March 6, 2008): "The Australian law firm of Allens Arthur Robinson has recently prepared a study for the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights and Business that examines the way different jurisdictions have contemplated the basis for corporate criminal liability (...) Among the jurisdictions compared are: Australia, UK, Canada, United States, Switzerland, Finland, Japan, Austria, Belgium, South Africa, and many more."
  • International Investment Agreements and Human Rights (March 20, 2008): "The International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Canadian-based NGO, recently prepared a study for the UN entitled 'International Investment Agreements, Business and Human Rights: Key Issues and Opportunities' (...) 'In the context of the state duty to protect and promote human rights, the most critical issue that arises are the duties to legislate in order to implement international human rights obligations into domestic law and to enforce such legislation. In investment law terms, this relates to what has been described in some texts as the right of host states to regulate. At the same time, however, IIAs limit the right of states to regulate, and these limits may extend to the state duty to protect and promote human rights'."
  • Proposed UN Framework for Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights (June 4, 2008): "The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, a portal that provides coverage of corporate accountability issues, has brought together in one location: the latest report to the United Nations Human Rights Council by John Ruggie, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN for Business and Human Rights, plus companion reports and addenda on the issue of corporate and investor responsibility in relation to human rights violations; government, NGO and legal expert responses to the report"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:03 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wiki to Find U.S. Government Information Handouts

The U.S.-based Free Government Information blog has drawn attention to the Handout Exchange wiki maintained by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association:

"Government Information librarians have acquired a lot of expertise. We've written a lot of guides and pathfinders to government information."

"The Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of ALA has been collecting these handouts for years so we docs librarians wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel every time we needed to create a handout or give someone a starting point for research (...)"

"The Handout Exchange is divided into four areas:

  • Guides & Handouts for Depository Management
  • Subject-oriented Guides and Tutorials
  • Source- and Geography-oriented Guides and Tutorials
  • Product-oriented Guides and Tutorial "
Another useful source I use regularly when starting research on U.S. legal topics is Cornell University Law Library's Legal Research Engine, a custom search tool that searches legal research guides created by law libraries in the United States, law-themed sites indexed by InSite (Cornell's legal current awareness service), and academic blawgs.

[Source: Free Government Information]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:24 pm 1 comments

Monday, July 07, 2008

State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2008

The State Department of the United States has been producing an annual report since the year 2000 called the Trafficking in Persons Report. It reports on foreign governments' efforts to eliminate trafficking in persons. From the introduction:

"The common denominator of trafficking scenarios is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for profit. A victim can be subjected to labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, or both. Labor exploitation includes traditional chattel slavery, forced labor, and debt bondage. Sexual exploitation typically includes abuse within the commercial sex industry. In other cases, victims are exploited in private homes by individuals who often demand sex as well as work. The use of force or coercion can be direct and violent or psychological."

"A wide range of estimates exists on the scope and magnitude of modern-day slavery. The International Labor Organization (ILO)—the United Nations agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment, and social protection issues—estimates that there are 12.3 million people in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude at any given time; other estimates range from 4 million to 27 million."

"Annually, according to U.S. Government-sponsored research completed in 2006, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, which does not include millions trafficked within their own countries. Approximately 80 percent of transnational victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. The majority of transnational victims are females trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. These numbers do not include millions of female and male victims around the world who are trafficked within their own national borders—the majority for forced or bonded labor."
According to the country section on Canada:

"Canada is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children are trafficked primarily from Asia and Eastern Europe for sexual exploitation, but victims from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean also have been identified in Canada. Many trafficking victims are from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and South Korea, in addition to Russia and Ukraine. Asian victims tend to be trafficked more frequently to Vancouver and Western Canada, while Eastern European and Latin American victims are trafficked more often to Toronto and Eastern Canada. A significant number of victims, particularly South Korean females, are trafficked through Canada to the United States. Canada is a source country for sex tourism, and NGOs report that Canada is also a destination country, particularly for sex tourists from the United States. Canadian girls and women, many of whom are aboriginal, are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation. NGOs report that Canada is a destination for foreign victims trafficked for labor exploitation; many of these victims enter Canada legally but then are unlawfully exploited in agriculture and domestic servitude."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:28 pm 0 comments

Friday, July 04, 2008

Access 2008 Library Tech Conference Program Now Available

The organizers of the Access 2008 library tech conference in Hamilton, Ontario have posted the event program.

The conference is October 1-4.

The first Access conference took place in Calgary in 1997. The website links to the presentations from earlier meetings.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:08 pm 0 comments

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Harvard Law School First To Commit To "Mandatory Open Access Policy"

Earlier this year, the faculty at the Harvard Law School unanimously voted to make all their scholarly articles available for free online.

According to the June 15, 2008 issue of Library Journal, this makes Harvard Law "the first law school to commit to a 'mandatory open access policy' via an institutional repository".

This means the contents would be searchable by other services such as Google Scholar. Authors could legally post the articles on their own websites, and educators could also freely provide the articles to students.

This follows the decision last winter by Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences to mandate open access for its members' research works.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:03 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More Top Library Tech Trends

This is a follow-up to my June 20, 2008 post entitled Top Tech Trends for ALA 2008 Conference on technology predictions and tendencies for discussion at the American Library Association Summer 2008 conference in Anaheim, California.

On its blog, the Library and Information Technology Association (part of the American Library Association) has published a few more contributions on the topic:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:40 pm 0 comments

Judging Bastarache

The Canadian Constitution Foundation, a non-profit group based in Calgary that appears to lean to the conservative side of the spectrum, recently released a study detailing Justice Michel Bastarache's record on the Supreme Court of Canada.

Justice Bastarache officially retired earlier this week.

According to the accompanying press release, Bastarache has "an over-all strong record of defending individual freedom, economic liberty, and equality before the law. As between those three topics, his record was strongest on cases involving economic freedom (eg. upholding contracts) and equality rights, but weaker in respect of the individual freedoms set out in Section 2 of the Charter: freedom of expression, association, religion and conscience."

The study looked at 37 Supreme Court of Canada cases from September 30, 1997 to April 30, 2008.

It will be interesting to see what a more left-leaning group will say about Justice Bastarache.

[Source: University of Alberta Faculty of Law blog ]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:08 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

June/July 2008 Issue of Information Career Trends

The most recent issue of Info Career Trends is devoted to "getting unstuck" when one's library career appears to be going nowhere.

Info Career Trends is the professional development newsletter of, the guide to online job resources for librarians and information professionals maintained by author Rachel Singer Gordon.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:38 pm 0 comments