Law Union Annual Conference 2007

February 9 & 10th, 2007
Event to be held at two locations: Friday night Keynote Session will be held at Bloor Street United Church, 300 Bloor St. West, at 7:00 p.m. Arrive early to register. Saturday sessions will be held at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, U of T, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Justice for a Dying Planet: Law & the Climate Crisis
Atmospheric levels of CO2 are higher now than at any time in the past 420,000 years. This is an evening about “climate justice.” What is the problem? What are the fights that are underway (what fights need to happen!)? What are the solutions – what can the legal profession do – what can a motivated community do?
Gord Perks, Toronto City Councillor
Keith Stewart, Manager, Climate Change Campaign, WWF-Canada
Don Goldberg, Senior Attorney, Centre for International Environmental Law, Washington, D.C.

SATURDAY PANELS 9:00am-5:00pm:

International Law and Canada’s Participation in Afghanistan
Chair: Irina Ceric, PhD candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School, Law Union of Ontario
Speakers: Michael Mandel, Law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, founding member of Lawyers Against War, and author of How America Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity
Angela Joya, PhD candidate in political science at York University, CUPE 3903 member, Member of fact-finding mission to Afghanistan to take place in Spring 2007.
Lauryn Oastes, Independent Consultant, International Human Rights, Development, and Gender Equality, Women For Afghanistan

Let the People Decide: The Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform Presents an Historic
Opportunity for Change
Chair: Wayne Smith, Member, Fair Vote Canada
Speakers: George Thomson, Chair, Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform
Matthew Certosimo, lawyer, Assembly member
Kael Deverell, member, Students’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

On the Backs of Our Children: Chocolate, Other Comforts, and Child Labour
Chair: Dyanoosh Youssefi, Barrister and Solicitor, Criminal Defence Counsel
Speakers: Carol Off, Journalist, CBC radio’s As It Happens, Author of Bitter Chocolate
Anita Sheth, Senior Analyst, Advocacy Policy and Research, Save the Children
Donna E. Young, Professor of Law, Albany Law School
Steve Benedict, Director, International Department, Canadian Labour Congress

Challenging Police Misconduct in Ontario (a roundtable discussion)
Chair: Jackie Esmonde, Barrister and Solicitor, Roach, Schwartz and Associates, Law Union
Speakers: Bob Kellermann, Barrister and Solicitor, Law Union of Ontario, on the human rights and privacy rights implications of police use of “Form 208s” to record information about members of the public.
Lora Patton, staff lawyer at CLASP, on the criminalization of school behaviour and the increased involvement of police officers in schools.
Dyanoosh Youssefi, Barrister and Solicitor, Law Union of Ontario, on Bill 103, the proposed new police complaints procedure and the ongoing challenge of establishing an independent and fair police complaints procedure.
Julian Roy, senior lawyer at Falconer Charney, on civil litigation strategies for challenging police misconduct, including how to identify and litigate a winning case.
Peter Rosenthal, Barrister and Solicitor, Roach, Schwartz and Associates, on the benefits and pitfalls of using the inquest process to challenge the police use of force which may have resulted in death.
Magaly San Martin, Community Legal Worker at Parkdale Community Legal Clinic, on using the Small Claims Court as a strategy to challenge police misconduct.

Precarious Employment: Gaps in the Law and Strategies for Fighting Back
Chair:Sherry Liang, Member, Canadian Labour Code Review Advisory Panel
Speakers: Tracy Heffernan, Staff Lawyer, Kensington Bellwoods Community Legal Services
Karen Dick, Organizer, Workers Action Centre
Dr. Cynthia Cranford, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto

Environmental Law: Issues and Updates
Chair: Sarah Dover, Barrister and Solicitor, Campaigner, environmental justice
Speakers: Shawn Patrick Stensil, Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada
Dayna Nadine Scott, Professor of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School
Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence Canada
David McRobert, In-House Counsel & Senior Policy Advisor, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

International Solidarity and Human Rights from the Philippines to Colombia
Presentation and discussion on how we can effectively work as allies with grassroots movements in other countries, and yet remain conscious of the effect of racism and imperialism on mainstream perceptions of global issues and struggles
Speakers: Mike Leitold, Barrister and Solicitor, Roach Schwartz & Associates, recently completed a human rights fact finding mission with other Canadian volunteers in the Philippines
Jeffrey House, Barrister and Solicitor,

Organizing Movement and Movement Lawyers
An informal roundtable to discuss the relationship between lawyers/legal workers and movements for social change.
Chair: Mac Scott, Immigration Consultant, Carranza Barristers and Solicitors, Ontario Coalition
Against Poverty, No One Is Illegal, Law Union of Ontario
Facilitators/speakers: Matthew Behrens, Organizer, Toronto Action for Social Change, Campaign to Stop Secret Trials
Amina Sherazee, Immigrant Rights Lawyer, Downtown Legal Service
Barbara Jackmam, Immigrant Rights Lawyer, Jackman and Associates
Zainab Amadhy, Organizer, Coalition in Support of Indigenous Sovereignty
John Clarke, Organizer, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Chris Harris, Youth Coordinator, Black Action Defence Committee
Howard Morton, Barrister and Solicitor, Law Union of Ontario
Sima Zerehi, Organizer, No One Is Illegal

PLENARY: The Duty to Consult Aboriginal People: Step Forward or Colonialist Trick?
Chair: Shin Imai, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
Opening and Closing Remarks: Murray Klippenstein, Barrister and Solicitor

Conference fees: $10.00 for Friday night keynote ($5.00 for students and unwaged), $35.00 for the Saturday panels ($10.00 for students and unwaged) or $10.00 per single session ($5.00 for students and unwaged)

Law Union 2007 Annual General Meeting

The Law Union’s 2007 AGM will be held on Thursday, November 1st 2007 from 6:30-8:00pm.

Friend’s Meeting House
60 Lowther Avenue, Toronto

Meeting to be followed by a social event with food, drinks, and kindred spirits at a nearby member’s house.

Among other things, in the first part of the meeting,

*The current Steering Committee will give a report on this past year’s activities, as well as exciting new projects planned for the coming year.

*The AGM will also see the launch of the long-awaited but well-worth-the-wait new LUO web-site

*Elections will be held for the new Steering Committee


Steering Committee members run Law Union Activities. We oversee administration and operation of the Law Union, and determine the organization’s direction. In the past, Steering Committee members have worked with other volunteers to put together our annual conferences, bring in speakers, publish our newsletter (more on this at the AGM.)

The Steering Committee will meet on the third Thursday of every month, in the evening. All Steering Committee members are required to attend.


The projects committee organizes and delivers much of the Law Union’s content. The particular topics that the Committee works on, be they immigration, policing, international law, securities, criminal justice, equality rights, etc., depend on the members’ personal interests, current news, and the memberships’ interests. The annual conference has been a mainstay of the organization for many years, but we have also brought in speakers, put together guidebooks for activists, made submissions to various levels of government, acted as intervenors in court cases, and so on.

In the past, the Projects Committee and the Steering Committee have often had joint or back to back meetings. This year, the Projects Committee will meet on the first Thursday of every month, in the evening.

Any Law Union member may join the Projects’ Sub-Committee. Steering Committee members have traditionally devoted much time to the Law Union’s projects and will continue to do so.

Law Union of Ontario Annual Conference

FRIDAY MARCH 24th, 7:30pm “Finding a Balance? Human rights, national security and the role of law and lawyers” Paul Cavalluzzo, human rights lawyer (speaking personally, not as counsel to the Arar inquiry) OISE, 252 Bloor St. West (at St. George subway station) Wheelchair accessible, Childcare available on request AFTER: socialize at Fox and Fiddle pub, 280 Bloor St. West SATURDAY MARCH 25th, 9am to 5pm OISE 252 Bloor St. West (at St. George subway station) Wheelchair accessible, Childcare available on request $30 for all panels or pay what you can low income and unwaged $10 per session or pay what you can low income and unwaged Law Union memberships will be available at the door PANELS Session 1 9:15am to 10:45am PANEL I: Undermining Workers’ Safety: A Roundtable on How Law Impedes Occupational Health and Safety Interests This panel comprises distinguished and diverse panelists who have gathered to raise awareness on how Canada’s constitutional, criminal and labour laws, even if well-intentioned, can undermine legitimate workplace health and safety interests. *Rick Blair (Ryder Wright Blair Holmes) *Michael Grossman (Toronto Workers’ Health and Safety Legal Clinic) *Patricia O’Reilly (Injured Workers Consultants Community Legal Clinic) *Sabrina Pacini (Women of Inspiration) *Moderator: Ken Stuebing (CaleyWray Labour Lawyers) Panel II: Capitalizing the Earth: Environmental Crediting and First Nations Economic instruments such as crediting schemes could be ways to motivate good environmental behaviour through market incentives. This panel will look at the potential for such mechanisms in the context of local communities and indigenous peoples both within Canada and globally. *Dr. Laura Westra, an adjunct professor at York University and professor emeritus at the University of Windsor. *Dean Jacobs, the Chief of Walpole Island First Nation *Graham Erion, a climate change activist and an LLB student at Osgoode Hall Law School. Panel III: Paralegals and Politics: Regulating Paralegals A panel on the new plans to regulate paralegals by the Law Society of Upper Canada, whether it will benefit clients and social movements. *Vilma Filici (Filici legal services) *A.J. Withers (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) *Moderator: Natasha Ceasar (Law clerk and paralegal with Carranza Barristers and Solicitors) 11:00 am to 12:30 pm Session 2 Panel I: Racialized Justice and Colonial Violence Against Native Women – The concept of impunity in the consolidation of a settler state *Audrey Huntley, woman of mixed native and settler ancestry community researcher and filmmaker *Robyn Bourgeouis (Lubicon), activist, Ph.D. Candidate, OISE *Amber O’Hara, First Nations researcher, activist and a family member of one of the murdered women. She has documented these cases over the past ten years Panel II: Reform of the Human Rights Code- the Direct Access Debate For over forty years the Ontario Human Rights Commission has acted as the “gatekeeper” of the human rights enforcement system, investigating complaints, referring some for hearing and dismissing others. The Attorney General recently announced the first major overhaul of the Code since it’s introduction in the 1960s, to produce a more “direct access” model. This panel will explore the pros and cons of the current system versus the direct access model. * Margaret Parsons, Executive Director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic and spokesperson on issues of race and equity * David Lepofsky, lawyer, author, advocate for the disabled and former chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Committee * Kathy Laird, Exectutive Director of the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and member of the Association of Human Rights Lawyers of Ontario Panel III: Race, Crime and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Political parties of all stripes are trumpeting mandatory minimum sentencing as a means of halting gun violence and dealing with other social problems. But experiences in other jurisdictions show the outcomes of such policies disproportionately impact communities of colour without any real effect on crime rates. Join lawyers on the cutting edge of fighting racial discrimination for a critical discussion of the issue. *Kikélola Roach, civil lawyer with Roach, Schwartz and Associates *Selwyn Pieters, lawyer, sole practitioner *Moderator: Mike Leitold, student-at-law and LUO Steering Committee member 12:30 – 1:30 pm Lunch break and an opportunity for informal mentoring for law, law clerk and paralegal students (pizza will be provided) Session 3 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm Panel I: Fighting Canada Corporations and Environmental Crimes Canadian mining operations now span more than 100 countries – an expansion that has left some of the world’s worst environment disasters in its wake. The record of this industry within Canada has also been marked by bulldozing local interests, environmental destruction and violation of indigenous rights. This panel will compare legal options for holding Canadian mining corporations accountable for their actions within Canada and abroad. *Justin Duncan, a Staff Lawyer with Sierra Legal Defence Fund in Toronto. *Grahame Russell, the co-director of Rights Action, a non-governmental organization that supports community-controlled development and human rights projects. *Sara Seck, a PhD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School specializing in the regulation of Canadian mining corporations abroad. *Dr. Catherine Coumans, Research Coordinator at MiningWatch Canada and responsible for the Asia-Pacific Program Panel II: Immigration Law: More of the Same Old Problems This panel will examine the issues facing people attempting to immigrate to Canada or seek refugee here. The following subjects will be discussed: the degradation of procedural fairness in the refugee determination process (such as the use of reverse order questioning where the claimant is questioned by the immigration officer not their own counsel first) and the use of security to undermine immigrants’ legal rights and the campaigns in the community to fight back. * Leigh Salsberg and Andrew Brouwer, speaking on the requirement that refugees who come to Canada through the United States make their claims there (Safe Third Country) *Catherine Bruce, speaking on reverse order questioning Barbara Jackman Barrister and Solicitor, speaking on security certificates *Sima Zerehi, No One Is Illegal and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, will speak on community campaigns for change *Moderator: Geri Sadoway, Immigration Counsel at Parkdale Community Legal Services Panel III: This is What a Democracy Looks Like: Democratic Reform in Canada What are the fundamental requirements for healthy representative democracy and an accountable government? What principles and procedures can best ensure a participatory decision-making system for Canadians of all backgrounds? Why are these requirements, principles and procedures not observed under Canada’s current electoral laws and democratic institutions? Finally, how can we, as community-minded citizens, organize to build an open, accessible and just democracy in Canada? *Wayne Smith, President of Fair Vote Canada *Joe Murray, Chair of Fair Vote Ontario *Dennis Pilon, a CRC post-doctoral fellow in Canadian Studies at Trent University. 3:15 PLENARY: TOTURE, HOW CAN WE FIGHT IT? A free flowing discussion on Canada’s involvement in and tacit consent for torture, strategies and movements being developed to fight back against this involvement and consent. Discussants are experts in the effects of torture and in the legal ramifications of our involvement in torture. *Ezat Mossallanejad, Settlement Counsellor/Policy Analyst and Researcher, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture *Paul Copeland, Law Union counsel on security issues and lawyer for Abdullah Almalki *Barbara Jackman, lawyer for Ahmed El Maati For more information: 416-926-8034 x 153 or

Fighting Canadian Corporations and Environmental Crime

Panel at the Law Union Annual Conference March 25, 2006, 1:30-3:00
Moderator: Sarah Dover, Articling Student, Birchall Northey LLP

Canadian mining operations now span more than 100 countries – an expansion that has left some of the world’s worst environment disasters in its wake. The record of this industry within Canada has also been marked by bulldozing local interests, environmental destruction and violation of indigenous rights. This panel will compare legal options for holding Canadian mining corporations accountable for their actions within Canada and abroad in anticipation of the federal government considering new regulation to address environmental harms and human rights abuses by Canadian mining companies committed outside of Canada. Panellists Justin Duncan – is a Staff Lawyer with Sierra Legal Defence Fund in Toronto. His recent legal battles include victories in protecting a provincial park from the re-opening of a road and defending municipal pesticide bylaws. He is actively involved in public legal education to give Canadian activists tools to battle corporations and governments that would harm the environment. Grahame Russell – is the co-director of Rights Action, a non-governmental organization that supports community-controlled development and human rights projects in Mexico, Central America and Haiti, and that carries out education and activism work in Canada and the US related to global human rights and development issues. Grahame works on community impacts in the South of Canadian mining operations. Sara Seck – is a phD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School specializing in the regulation of Canadian mining corporations abroad. She delivered the keynote address, titled “Exploding the Myths: Why Home States are Reluctant to Regulate”, at the November 2005 multi-stakeholder round table on “Regulating Canadian Mining Companies Operating Internationally” hosted by MiningWatch. Catherine Coumans – is the Research Coordinator and responsible for the Asia-Pacific Program at MiningWatch Canada which co-ordinates the public interest response to the threats to public health, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat and community interests posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world. Catherine is intimately familiar with the current effort to push the federal government towards regulating Canadian mining companies outside Canada and sits on the an Advisory Group to the government’s roundtable process on Corporate Social Responsibility and Mining.