Civil Rights

What the court decision on the niqab ban was really about

October 29th, 2015 by Shelina Ali

This post was first published on rabble.ca

Voter turnout during the last federal election is estimated to be 68.5 per cent, the highest voter turnout since 1993. Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party campaigned on a platform of promising real change, which resonated with voters, giving the Liberals a clear majority of seats in the House of Commons and 39.5 per cent of the popular vote. Canadians showed that they wanted to uphold and participate in the democratic system.

One issue that, for the wrong reasons, garnered a great deal of attention as a hot button election topic was the Federal Court of Appeal decision on whether an individual could wear the niqab while taking their citizenship oath. Stephen Harper drew the other party leaders into a polarized dialogue about Canadian values, women’s rights and religious freedom, a misleading debate, considering neither the Federal Court nor the Federal Court of Appeal addressed those issues in their decisions. The decisions of both courts on the issue of wearing a niqab during a citizenship oath was grounded in the fact that the Harper government tried to circumvent the law by passing “mandatory” policies — in doing so, the Conservatives disregarded the requirements of a democratic system based on the rule of law. Read the rest of this entry

Millions of Canadians denied the right to vote in 2015 federal election

July 31st, 2015 by Priya Sarin

This post was first published on rabble.ca

Last week, the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice each ruled on separate Charter challenges to legislation affecting the rights of certain groups of Canadians to vote in the October 2015 federal election. Surprisingly, both courts permitted the impugned provisions at issue to continue in force and effectively denied these groups the right to vote.

The main focus of this article is the Court of Appeal’s decision regarding the right of Canadian expatriates to vote; however, I will first briefly address the Ontario Superior Court’s disappointing decision in Council of Canadians v. Canada related to  voter ID requirements (the “Voter ID Case”).
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The Kokopenace case and Aboriginal representation in the administration of justice

May 29th, 2015 by Shelina Ali

This post was first published on rabble.ca

The recent backlash over the actions of prosecutors in the criminal trial of Bradley Barton, accused of the first degree murder of Cindy Gladue and found not guilty by a panel of 11 jurors, raised concerns over the treatment of Aboriginal victims by the justice system and how Ms. Gladue in particular was dehumanized by the way prosecutors presented evidence of the crimes committed against her. Some commentators noted that underrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples on juries in Edmonton was a problem and asked whether this underrepresentation played a role in the outcome in this case.

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Why carding is back: Toronto Police lack effective civilian oversight

April 30th, 2015 by Brian Iler

This post was first published on rabble.ca

Carding, the infamous police practice of stopping individuals for questioning, is back with a vengeance in Toronto.

Its devastating impact on the lives of thousands of Torontonians is vividly and brilliantly illustrated by Desmond Cole’s piece in this month’s Toronto Life: “The Skin I’m In: I’ve been interrogated by police more than 50 times — all because I’m black.”

A 2010 exposé by the Toronto Star showed that carding was in widespread use, and inflicted on Black people at disproportionately high rates.
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‘Whose body is this?’: The right to die with dignity revisited

January 29th, 2015 by Lauren Blumas

Over the holiday season a story out of Winnipeg grabbed the attention of the Canadian public. The story went something like this: an elderly woman fell in the home she shared with her middle‑aged son. She was injured in the fall and left unable to get up under her own power. Her son, apparently carrying out the wishes of his mother, did not call for emergency assistance and did not move her to bed. Instead, the 62‑year-old covered his mother with a blanket where she lay and provided her with food and water until she passed away several weeks later.

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Taking the fight for housing rights to court

December 18th, 2014 by Safia Lakhani

Earlier this year, we considered the Ontario Superior Court’s decision on the landmark Charter application regarding housing rights in Tanudjaja et al. v. the Attorney General (Canada) (“Tanudjaja”). The applicants, four individuals in precarious housing situations, requested the Superior Court make a declaration that the federal and provincial governments had violated their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: specifically, the right to life, liberty and security (Section 7), and the right to the equal protection and equal benefit from the law (Section 15), by failing to implement a national and provincial housing strategy.

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