Speaking Truth For Change – Law Union of Ontario Annual Conference 2017

2017 Law Union Conference

Click here for details on the 2017 Law Union Conference, which is being held May 5 and 6, 2017!



2016 Law Union Conference


Advanced registration is closed but you can still register in person at the conference.

Please click here for the LUO Conference 2016 booklet.

Friday, May 13, 2016: 6:30pm (registration); 7:00pm to 8:30pm (panel) and

Saturday, May 14, 2016: 8:30am (registration); 9:00am to 6:00pm (panels)

Northrop Frye Hall, University of Toronto

73 Queen’s Park Crescent East

Map - Northrop Frye Hall

Full Conference Price:

$175 for lawyers/paralegals

$50 for community members

$10 for Friday only

No one turned away for lack of funds

Childcare available (childcare is booked for Saturday; please contact us for more

details, or if you require childcare on Friday too); Scent-free environment; CART

services; Wheelchair accessible venue; CPD

Visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/199695690413069/



Friday, May 13, 2016

7:00pm to 8:30pm (registration at 6:30pm)

Cannabis Legalization: Who Wins and Who Loses? (Plenary session)

This panel will discuss options for the regulation of the Cannabis industry, reflecting on the needs of medical patients who require Cannabis as well as its use for recreational and other purposes.  The discussion will address who will profit from the process of legalization, what kinds of activities could stay or become criminalized, what it means for other drugs and harm reduction, and the wider social ramifications of legalization in Canada. Panelists will be asked to reflect on the potential impacts of regulation on stakeholder groups such as medical patients, communities of colour, drug users, people with disabilities, members of marginalized socio-economic communities and those with mental health difference.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

9:00am-10:30am (registration at 8:30am)

The Duty of Counsel to Accommodate Clients With Disabilities

This panel will focus on the intersection of professional conduct and the duty to provide accessible and quality legal services to clients with disabilities. Legal and ethical issues will be examined within the lens of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Rules of Professional Conduct, outlining the duties of lawyers and paralegals to accommodate clients who live with cognitive and perceptual impairments. These professional duties will be reviewed in relation to the Courts, Boards and Tribunals work.

[This panel has been accredited by the Law Society for 1 hour and 30 minutes of Professionalism Hours]



Islamophobia and the Law

The rise and extent of islamophobia and  anti-muslim prejudice will be examined from both   anti- racism and religious discrimination perspectives.The panel will also address the socio-cultural context in the delivery of legal remedies and services and barriers to equal access to justice which have arisen in a political climate driven by fear and prejudice.

[This panel has been accredited by the Law Society for 1 hour and 30 minutes of Professionalism Hours]


Equity in Legal Education: An Intersectional Analysis

This panel will assess the state of equity within legal education, law practice, and the profession in Ontario from an intersectional perspective (i.e. gender, class, race, disability, etc.) and reflect upon what structural barriers impair the educational and labour market prospects from persons coming from equity-seeking and historically marginalized groups. This panel will present concrete ideas, strategies, and practice tips to move equity from theory into action.

[This panel has been accredited by the Law Society for 30 minutes of Professionalism Hours]


Anti-oppression training for legal workers

In this training, participants will be encouraged to draw on their own wealth of knowledge and experience as legal workers to explore and gain deeper understandings how systems of power and oppression shape their day-to-day work in law offices, in legal organizing, and in the legal system at large. Through group-based exercises and discussion, participants will develop and share tools and strategies for addressing some of these issues, ultimately enhancing their capacity to work for justice.

[This panel has been accredited by the Law Society for 45 minutes of Professionalism Hours]





Implications of the TRC and the right to Aboriginal languages

This Panel will address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report, in particular recommendations pertaining to the acknowledgement of Aboriginal language rights. An examination of the call to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act, incorporating the urgency to preserve languages that are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, reinforced by legal and binding Treaties, best managed by Aboriginal people and their communities. The role of the legal profession to engage in these initiatives, through the delivery of legal services and supports, will be examined.

[This panel has been accredited by the Law Society for 1 hour and 30 minutes of Professionalism Hours]


Labour Panel



Legal strategies in the fight against immigration detention

This session will highlight the innovative legal strategies which have emerged in solidarity with detainee led resistance to indefinite immigration detention. In Chaudhary v Canada 2015 the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that the Ontario Superior Court does have jurisdiction to decide applications of habeas corpus challenging continued immigration detention. Together with a representative from the End Immigration Detention Network, the lawyers at the heart of this case will discuss strategies around prioritizing the voices and autonomy of clients who are marginalized and isolated.



Seeking Environmental Justice and Confronting the Legal System

Panelists will discuss urgent issues of environmental injustice facing Grassy Narrows First Nation, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, and communities impacted by Canadian Mining Corporations in Latin America. Further, panelists will examine interactions with the legal system in instances of environmental injustice, as both a barrier to achieving justice and a potential tool for holding state and corporate actors accountable for environmental and community harm. Next steps required in the fight for environmental justice will also be discussed.


Anti-terrorism and Human rights

This Panel will examine the recent amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act, Bill C-51. The role of legal counsel will be explored within a thorough examination of the recent changes to the legislation, and how this will affect the practice of law in Canada. Professor Kent Roach will provide insight into these issues with discussion of his latest publication entitled False Security: The Radicalization of Canadian Anti-Terrorism, while other panellists will discuss these issues within the context of Canadian Civil Liberties, practice of criminal law and professional duties to clients.

[This panel has been accredited by the Law Society for 30 minutes of Professionalism Hours]


Solitary confinement: strategies to challenge and resist its practice in detention

The past several years have seen significant and growing concern about solitary confinement and calls to end or at least severely restrict its use. This panel explores the uses, abuses and effects of solitary confinement in detention, with particular attention to vulnerable populations (e.g. youth, women, and persons with mental illness). It also addresses various strategies through which solitary confinement can be challenged and resisted, ranging from individual grievances and complaints, to broad-based grassroots movements, to class actions and regulatory reform. Panelists will draw on their personal experiences in bringing legal challenges, investigating and reporting on detention practices and effects, scholarly research and work with prisoners and detainees.



Advocacy Outside the conference/Courtroom: Possibilities for Radical Lawyering (Plenary session)

How does one effectively advocate against the injustices surrounding us? This session will explore the obligation of lawyers and paralegals, as both professionals and as progressives, to advocate for change outside of the courtroom and to endeavor to do radical lawyering.  After a full day of workshops, this final plenary session aims to bring together the ideas and social problems – and distill feelings into plans for concrete action. It will explore various themes including: the notion of public interest advocacy as an obligation under the LSUC Rules of Professional Conduct; change through mainstream media and through creation of our own media; change within institutions of the legal profession and the crafting of grassroots campaigns; and change through empowerment of the individuals we serve and marginalized communities. The Law Union of Ontario sets as its mantra ‘agitate and litigate’ – this panel sets to explore how we can successfully agitate through non-litigation strategies.

Break-out Groups (4:30-5:15)
Group #1 – Campaigns
• Marcus McCann – Say No to Trinity Western Law Campaign
• Josephine Grey – Keep Neighbourhood Legal Clinics Campaign
• Jenna Meguid – Student Unionizing at Parkdale Community Legal Services

Group #2 – Empowering Communities
• Anthony Morgan – Falconers LLP
• Bryan Taguba – Paralegal and Kapit Bisig Centre
• Fathima Cader – Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law

Concluding Remarks (5:15-6:30)
• Avvy Go – Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
• Sibel Ataogul – Association des juristes progressistes in Quebec


Conference After-Party
Saturday, May 14, 2016, 8pm – 2am

At: The Abbey Bar & Grill
989 College St, Toronto, ON M6H 1A6, Canada (View on Google Maps)

Featuring food, drink, live music by The Jewstice League and karaoke!



#notmyCBA: LUO calls on members to resign from CBA over #CBAchevron

The Steering Committee of the Law Union of Ontario is urging all of its members to resign from the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) as a result of the CBA’s intervention in Chevron Corporation, et al. v. Yaiguaje, et al. We have written to CBA to this effect; the full text of this letter is at the end of this post.


This case is about massive environmental contamination in Ecuador caused by oil company Chevron Canada. The deliberate contamination by Chevron (then Texaco) of the Amazon forest resulted in pollution levels 30 times higher than the Exxon Valdez disaster.

In 2011, after nearly 20 years of battle, an Ecuadorian court ruled that Chevron had to compensate victims for the destruction it had caused. The Supreme Court of Ecuador ratified this decision and set damages at US $9.51 billion.

In December 2013, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that Ecuador’s indigenous communities were entitled to have their case against Chevron Canada heard in Ontario. Chevron is appealing this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC).

In September 2014, the CBA announced its decision to have Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP submit a brief to the SCC on issues of corporate identity. Blakes represents Chevron in other matters. This decision by the CBA both followed and propelled widespread criticism from CBA sections and CBA members, including the CBA’s Legislative and Law Reform Committee, which had recommended against proceeding with the intervention when it was first proposed. Critics pointed to a lack of consultation in the intervention decision-making process and a violation of the CBA’s stated public interest/access to justice mandate.


In calling for CBA member resignations, we follow the lead of advocates, lawyers, and law students who are protesting both the process and the substance of the CBA’s intervention. In particular, we would highlight the following statements:

For current information about the case and the CBA’s intervention, see the CBA Chevron Facebook page.

Law Union’s letter to the CBA:

To Whom It May Concern:


We write to advise you that the Steering Committee of the Law Union of Ontario is urging all of its members to resign from the CBA as a result of your intervention in Chevron Corporation, et al. v. Yaiguaje, et al at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Your intervention flies in the face of any concern for the environment; your stated commitment to access to justice; your own members’ objections; and our profession’s ethic requiring us to act in the public interest, unless acting for a party to litigation.


Law Union of Ontario – Steering Committee

2012 Annual General Meeting: Oct 11

The Law Union of Ontario will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Thursday October 11 from 6:30pm-8:30pm at Friends’ House, 60 Lowther Avenue, Toronto, Ontario. Click here for a map. The meeting room entrance is at the rear of the house on the west side. For wheelchair access, enter from the meeting parking lot on Bedford Road.
Come hear about the Law Union’s successes over the past year, and help chart the way forward. Please bring your ideas for new projects as well as ways to improve the Law Union. With social justice issues under siege, a strong Law Union is needed more than ever to fight oppression and to advocate for a more just, humane, and equal world.

Good conversation and refreshments to follow; agenda to be circulated shortly.

Join the Steering Committee!

We will also be forming new Steering Committee to guide us in the year to come. We strongly encourage people with diverse experiences, backgrounds and perspectives to lend their talents to the Steering Committee and help make the Law Union as inclusive, representative and effective as possible. Those interested in putting their names forward to become Steering Committee members should do so at the Annual Meeting. If there are more than 12 nominations, there will be an election in accordance with our constitution, though in years past this has not been required.

Deadline for G20 Legal Actions Expires June 26/27, 2012

During the G20 Summit in Toronto on June 26 and 27, 2010, police trampled on the legal rights and civil liberties of thousands of protestors, legal observers, media personnel, bystanders, and other members of the public.

If you want to hold the police accountable for their wrongful actions and get compensation and justice for any wrong done to you, you may have to take action immediately. The deadline for taking legal action with respect to many of the claims arising from the G20 Summit will be June 26 or June 27, 2012. If you miss the deadline, you may lose your legal right to sue.

Deadlines for filing a police complaint or a human rights application have already expired, but you can still sue the police. You can sue the police in either the Small Claims Court (if you are seeking monetary compensation up to $25,000), or in the Superior Court if you want to claim a greater amount or ask the Court to do something other than order payment of money.

You should get advice from a lawyer immediately if you are considering taking legal action and want to make sure that you don’t miss the deadlines. Some lawyers who will provide a free one-half hour consultation about G20 legal claims are listed on pages 87-88 of the Law Union of Ontario’s Post-G20 Action Guide (www.lawunion.ca/g20guide).

For more information, please see the flier.