Statement in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their allies across Turtle Island

The Law Union of Ontario (LUO) – Ontario’s coalition of progressive lawyers, law students, and legal workers – stands in solidarity with land defenders from the Wet’suwet’en nation and their Indigenous and settler allies across Turtle Island. The governments of Canada and British Columbia have failed to respect the national sovereignty and interests of the Wet’suwet’en nation and its peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent regarding pipeline construction across their territories. In so doing, these governments have ignored and obfuscated critical legal principles pronounced by the Supreme Court of Canada in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia and Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, and further failed to comply with their obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

We stand with the many defenders and protectors of ancestral lands, water, and spiritual, historic, and cultural resources at the Unist’ot’en camp and healing centre and the Gitdumt’en camp along the proposed energy corridor. In January 2019, Royal Canadian Mounted Police brutally and violently assaulted the camps and arrested 14 land defenders. Recently, the RCMP has again invaded and violently removed and arrested land protectors. In fact, Wet’suwet’en matriarchs were holding ceremony for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls when the RCMP moved in and attacked them. This type of action flies in the face of the calls to justice published after the culmination of national inquiry into MMIW that included recommendations to safeguard and facilitate access to culture and healing. Further, the link between resource extraction and violence against vulnerable community members such as women, girls, trans and two spirit people is well known. When man camps encroach on Indigenous territories they destroy the eco systems and the rates of violence against the local population escalates.

The Wet’suwet’en peoples are leading the fight for the future health of the land and all that occupy it and for future generations, as well as the broader fight around the full meanings of Indigenous sovereignty. The LUO highlights the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks’ statement in response to the proposed pipeline: “This proposed project endangers our promises to our grandchildren that we would look after our land, our culture, our people for them. We cannot break this promise to our grandchildren.”

The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have tried to seek title under the colonial legal system when they were plaintiffs in the Delgamuukw case at the Supreme Court of Canada. After 13 years of court battles the Supreme Court of Canada directed the Canadian government that it had a moral obligation to embark upon good faith negotiations with them. It is not surprising that the Wet’suwet’en leaders seek to have Indigenous law respected since Canadian law has failed them.

The LUO also highlights that in December 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued Early Warning and Urgent Action declarations to Canada regarding its approval of the Transmountain and Coastal GasLink pipelines and its refusal to consider the Wet’suwet’en right to free, prior, and informed consent as to any measure that may cause irreparable harm to their rights, culture, lands, territories, and way of life.  The UN committee called upon Canada to immediately cease construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Coastal GasLink pipeline and cancel all permits until free, prior, and informed consent is obtained.  It urged Canada to freeze all present and future approval of large-scale development projects affecting indigenous peoples that do not enjoy free, prior, and informed consent from all indigenous peoples affected.  It further recommended that Canada incorporate free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples in its domestic legislation to bring it in compliance with its international human rights obligations and jurisprudence.

The LUO calls on Canada and British Columbia to respect the sovereign territory, rights, and laws of the Wet’suwet’en nation and of all First Nations. We further call upon governments to follow the direction of the Supreme Court of Canada and their obligations under the UNDRIP, the immediate and permanent halt of construction of any pipelines or other invasions of Indigenous lands without free, prior, and informed consent, and to work in good faith to bring all affected parties to the table and seek a negotiated solution.

In solidarity,

The Law Union of Ontario

Resisting Ford: Legal Strategies and Beyond

LUO 2018 Mini-Conference and AGM

November 17, 2018
Friends House, 60 Lowther Ave, Toronto

Registration – 12:30-1:00

Keynote – 1:00-1:30
-Knia Singh

Civil Rights Panel -1:30-2:45
-Nicolas Rouleau (Notwithstanding Clause)
-Jessica Cassell (Free Speech)
-Vanessa Gray (Indigenous Rights/Sovereignty)

Workshops 3:00-4:30
-Anti-Oppression Training
-Mindfulness and the Law
-Legal Observer Training

Social Justice/Equality Panel 4:45-6:00
-Mika Imai (Sex Education)
-Jackie Esmonde (Social Assistance)
-David Bush (Workers’ Rights)
-Jen Ko (Safe Injection Sites)

Dinner 6:00-7:00

AGM 7:00 – 8:30 –

After-Party – 8:30 – Midnight
-Gabby’s Bar and Grill, 192 Bloor St West

CPD – 5 Substantive Hours (Professionalism Hours pending)

Cost – $20-70 – Pay What You Can –
Students and Community Members Free

Workshops are capped and will be available for sign-up at registration (first-come-first-served)

Childcare from 1PM-6PM. Activities for children available during AGM (7:00-8:30PM)

Registration on-site starting at 12:30. LUO Annual Memberships can also be renewed

Please refrain from wearing scents to make the space more accessible.

Questions? email

2017 Annual General Meeting

When: Thursday October 26

Time: doors at 6:00, meeting at 6:30

Location: Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto

Light refreshments will be provided. Following the AGM we will proceed to the Free Times Cafe at 230 College Street for the after-party.

We request that participants refrain from wearing scents.

Please contact if you require any accomodations

For many of us, the AGM is when we renew our Law Union memberships. We will have membership forms available at the AGM. If, unfortunately, you cannot make it to this year’s AGM, you are welcome to renew your membership online at

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Speaking Truth For Change – Law Union Annual Conference 2017

Online registration is now closed. But don’t worry, you can register at the conference on the day of.



Legal Strategies in the Age of Trump



9:00am-9:30am: Registration


9:30am-11:00am: Panel Block 1

Panel 1: Borders and Criminal Law: “Double Punishment” and Extradition Injustices
Panel 2: Anti-oppression Training for Legal Workers


11:15am-12:45pm: Panel Block 2

Panel 1: The Rise of Precarious Work and the Prospect of Law Reform in Ontario

Panel 2: Big Data in the Age of Big Brother

Panel 3: Racialised women and/in the law


12:45pm-1:45pm: Lunch


1:45pm-3:30pm Plenary panel
Prison Justice: The Criminal Justice System – Inside and Out


3:45pm-5:15pm Panel Block 3
Panel 1: Policing Culture and Implicit Bias: An Intersectional Analysis

Panel 2: Advocacy for Taxiworkers in Toronto, Ontario

Panel 3: Pipeline Resistance and Water Protectors

FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2017
6:30pm-7:00pm: Conference Registration

7:00pm-8:30pm: Plenary Panel

Legal Strategies in the Age of Trump

This panel will provide an opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities for lawyers to assist progressive movements that are organizing against the new US President, and organizing against similar ideologies in Canada, including on issues of racism, immigration, human rights, labour, militarism, austerity, and civil liberties. The panel will touch on the limits of lawyering in supporting affected communities; and specific legal issues that the progressive legal community in Ontario can support and mobilize around. Panellists will discuss the opportunities for cross-border cooperation between progressive legal communities in the United States and Canada, and beyond.


  • Sukanya Pillay (Executive Director and General Counsel ,Canadian Civil Liberties Association)
  • Yavar Hameed (Counsel for Deepan Budlakoti, Hameed Law)
  • Anthony Morgan (Falconers LLP)
  • Moderator: Carolyn Egan (Steelworkers’ Toronto Area Council)

9:00am-9:30am: Conference Registration

9:30am-11:00am: Panel Block 1

Panel 1: Borders and Criminal Law: “Double Punishment” and Extradition Injustices

[CART real-time transcription service will be available for this panel]

This panel will explore intersections of Canadian criminal, immigration and extradition law. It will include must-know essentials for both criminal and immigration practitioners as well as a critical exploration of injustices built into these laws, using the case studies of Deepan Budlakoti (a man Canada rendered stateless who was punished criminally and is now facing deportation) and Hassan Diab (a Canadian citizen extradited to France based on flawed evidence).

Related: Anthony Navaneelan, Immigration consequences of criminal pleas and sentencing: Duties of the defence counsel.


  • Anthony Navaneelan (Staff lawyer, Refugee Law Office)
  • Yavar Hameed (Counsel for Deepan Budlakoti, Hameed Law)
  • Maeve McMahon (Justice for Hassan Diab Committee supporter, Associate Professor at Carleton University [Extradition Law researcher])
  • Moderator: Barbara Jackman (Immigration and Refugee lawyer, Jackman, Nazami & Associates)
  • “Rubber Stamped: The Hassan Diab Story” documentary

Panel 2: Anti-oppression Training for Legal Workers

Back by popular demand! This session will provide legal workers with an opportunity to learn about anti-oppression theory and practice. Participants will be encouraged to draw on their own wealth of knowledge and experience to gain deeper understandings how systems of power and oppression shape their day-to-day work in law offices, social movements, and in the legal system at large. Through group-based exercises, participants will discuss how to be mindful and critical of social hierarchies, with a view to exploring how relationships of harm can be reproduced through the legal profession and how these power dynamics can be challenged.


  • Gita Madan
  • Asam Ahmad

11:15am-12:45pm: Panel Block 2

Panel 1: The Rise of Precarious Work and the Prospect of Law Reform in Ontario

[CART real-time transcription service will be available for this panel]

This panel will critically assess the results of the Changing Workplace Review and the prospect of workplace law reform in the near term. In 2014, the Wynne Government launched the Changing Workplaces Review to address this growing trend. Panelists will evaluate the legal reforms being proposed in the Review, the extent of possible law reform, and what strategies will be necessary to improve working conditions and stability for Ontario’s workers. Moreover, the panel will discuss how law students, paralegals, and lawyers can engage communities that they work in through organizing, lobbying of politicians, and engaging workers impacted by precarious work.


    • Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Work and Wealth Reporter, Toronto Star
    • Melisa Bayon, OFL
    • Mary Gellatly, Community Legal Worker, Workers’ Rights Division, Parkdale Community Legal Services
    • John No, Employment Lawyer, Parkdale Community Legal Services
    • Ella Bedard, Osgoode Hall Law Student (Moderator)

Panel 2: Big Data in the Age of Big Brother

This panel will discuss the issues surrounding the collection of Big Data, and the implications for its misuse, by educating to prevent abuses by the State, Corporations and individuals. In particular, issues of concern for the legal profession are intelligence-led policing, invasive marketing practices, social media, international human rights and migration. Civil Liberties topics such as privacy, national security, surveillance, free speech and information ethics will be addressed. A legal discussion paper generated by Jack Gemmell will be distributed, and a technical handout will be distributed by Fred Ernst.

Related paper: Craig Scott, The Flipside of Big Data (When You Are a Tortured Afghan Detainee): No Data, Bad Data, Blocked Data in a Decade of Truth-seeking, 2007-2017

  • Moderator: Jack Gemmell, Criminal Defence Counsel
  • Professor Craig Scott, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Micheal Vonn , Policy Director, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
  • Fred Ernst: Information and Security Consultant

Panel 3: Racialised women and/in the law

This panel aims to bring together racialized and Indigenous women from the legal profession to share their experiences as legal practitioners with intersectional identities, and some of the practical strategies they have used in confronting pervasive attitudes towards women and racial minorities in the legal profession. The panelists will reflect on their own impressions of inequities in the law, the ways in which these inequities affect sexual and racialized minorities, and the kinds of changes necessary to ensure access to justice for sexual/gender and racial minorities.


  • Justice Sheila Ray
  • Sarah Malik (Hicks Adams LLP)
  • Katherine Hensel (Hensel Barristers)
  • Bobbette Jones-Keita (Minister’s Counsel/Hearings Officer, Canada Border Services Agency)
  • Moderator: Kendall Yamagishi

12:45pm-1:45pm: Lunch

1:45pm-3:30pm Plenary panel

Prison Justice: The Criminal Justice System – Inside and Out

[CART real-time transcription service will be available for this panel]

Join our Moderator Lee Chapelle, President of Canadian Prison Consulting Inc., for a riveting and critical discussion on the current state of the Canadian Justice & Correctional systems. Featuring experts in diverse roles this panel will present a critical review of how the Canadian Justice and Correctional systems interact. Discussion will include a review of key issues such as mental health care in prisons, programming availability, bail and the over-reliance on pre-trial incarceration. Further discussion will entail an overview look at the process from arrest to release with an emphasis placed on the realities of Provincial and Federal parole.

Related paper: The Honourable Mr. Justice Arthur Gans, Judicial Recommendations in the Sentencing Process: Myth or Reality?

Moderator: Lee Chapelle – President of Canadian Prison Consulting Inc.

Panel Members:

  • The Honourable Mr. Justice Melvyn Green – Criminal Court Judge
  • Paul Champ – Champ & Associates
  • Michael Spratt – Parnter, Abergel Goldstein & Partners LLP
  • Jessica Wolfe – Aboriginal Legal Services

3:45pm-5:15pm Panel Block 3

Panel 1: Policing Culture and Implicit Bias: An Intersectional Analysis

[CART real-time transcription service will be available for this panel]

With respect to Police Culture, the panel will discuss the impact of an organizational culture that prescribes unwritten roles and social codes that dictate the way that a person, in this case police officers, will function including a sense of solidarity among the group and a will to conform.

Implicit Bias is almost universally defined in the following way: Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favourable and unfavourable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.

Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.

Over the past 15 years a large body of psychological literature with respect to Implicit / Unconscious biases has emerged. Empirical evidence exists which supports the assertion that most of us to a greater or lesser extent including persons who avow egalitarian views and subjectively do not exhibit racism actually hold what are described as implicit biases against Black persons, other racialized persons, women, LGBTQ persons and other community members.


  • Dr. Alok Mukherjee
  • Hamlin Grange
  • Idil Abdillahi
  • Dr. Shaheen Azmi
  • Samantha Peters & Mayoori Malankov (Between the Lines)
  • Howard Morton (moderating)

Panel 2: Advocacy for Taxi workers in Toronto, Ontario

This panel will present the legal issues facing Toronto Taxi Workers within “the sharing economy.” Issues such as uneven application of the Toronto Municipal Code within the Ground Transportation Industry since the incursion of the Corporation Uber into the Toronto landscape will be examined. Policing issues, worker health and safety, income security, and discrimination in a predominately racialized occupation will be addressed, within the context of much needed Regulatory reform.


  • Patricia Reilly, BSc., Paralegal
  • Adenrele Victor Adegbite, Vice-President, iTaxiworkers Association
  • Murtuza ‘Latif’ Gowher, Accessibility Transit Worker

Panel 3: Pipeline Resistance and Water Protectors

This panel will discuss the legal issues for movements resisting the development of oil pipelines through sensitive aquifers and Indigenous Peoples’ traditional territories. Legal defence strategies, environmental law and advocacy and the need for enforcement of environmental, Indigenous and social rights will be addressed.
This panel is co-sponsored by the OPSEU Indigenous Mobilization Team.

Panel members:

  • Ta Maka Waste Win / LaDonna Brave Bull Allard (Founder of the first Standing Rock resistance camp of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests)
  • Freda Huson (appointed spokesperson from the Unistoten People, northern B.C.)