Posts by Safia Lakhani

Human Rights: Can ethical veganism be counted as a creed?

June 5th, 2019 by Safia Lakhani

This article was first published on rabble.ca

The Ontario Human Rights Code protects individuals from discrimination in various contexts, including employment, accommodation and the provision of goods and services. While most of the 14 grounds enumerated in the code are self-explanatory, the recent case of Adam Knauff, a vegan firefighter who has alleged discrimination on the basis of “creed” for the failure to accommodate his diet raises questions about the intended scope of this protected ground, and whether it may be interpreted to accommodate his claim.   Read the rest of this entry

Ontario rollbacks to sex-ed curriculum prompt legal challenges

December 20th, 2018 by Safia Lakhani

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Though the election was only six months ago, the array of changes (or “rollbacks”) ushered in by the Ford regime is dizzying: from backtracking on the cap-and-trade program to cancelling the basic income pilot project, the government has wasted little time in cracking down on the initiatives undertaken by its predecessor. The government’s announcement in July 2018 that the province would be scrapping the modernized sexual education curriculum developed by the Liberal government in 2015 and returning to the 1998 curriculum pending further consultations falls squarely in line with this trend.

The government’s decision to revert back to the 1998 curriculum has prompted considerable backlash from educators, parents, and students, and has also prompted four separate legal challenges.

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Legalization of Cannabis: Important Considerations for Housing Providers & Employers

September 14th, 2018 by Safia Lakhani

With the impending legalization of cannabis, we have received requests from a number of housing providers to assist in developing policies that deal with the use and growth of cannabis in units. We have also received requests from employers around policies that prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace. While policies should be crafted to suit a particular workplace or residence, below are a few considerations that employers and housing providers should bear in mind when creating rules around cannabis: Read the rest of this entry

Inquiring into international human rights abuses: To what end?

May 31st, 2018 by Safia Lakhani

This article was first published on rabble.ca

2018 marks 70 years since the establishment of the state of Israel and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in what is known as the “nakba,” or, disaster. This was also the year that the United States decided to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking demonstrations in the occupied territories. On May 14, 2018, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians, killing some 59 individuals and injuring over 2,700 others, including a Canadian medic who was treating protesters. The bloodshed has been described as the most violent in the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict since the war on Gaza in 2014. Two days later, Prime Minister Trudeau called for an independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground — including any incitement, violence, and the excessive use of force in Gaza. Read the rest of this entry

The Law Society’s Statement of Principles and what’s at stake

October 31st, 2017 by Safia Lakhani

This article was first published on rabble.ca

In 2012, the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) struck a Working Group to investigate the challenges faced by racialized licensees, who comprise approximately 18 per cent of lawyers in Ontario.

Unsurprisingly, the initial consultation report, which was prepared based on feedback from a range of individuals and organizations, concluded that overt discrimination and bias are a feature of daily life for many racialized licensees. Further to that initial report, the committee delivered a series of recommendations in a publication entitled “Working Together for Change: Strategies to Address Issues of Systemic Racism in the Legal Professions” on December 2, 2016,  including a recommendation to increase Continuing Professional Development (CPD) offerings that deal with topics of racialization, requiring licensees to adopt a policy around human rights and diversity to promote fair recruitment, retention, and advancement, and developing “progressive compliance” mechanisms for workplaces that do not comply with the recommendations, or are identified as having systemic barriers to diversity and inclusion.

Amongst the 13 recommendations is a requirement that licensees working adopt a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public — a requirement that has ignited a firestorm in the legal profession.

Some members of the law society have taken to radio and print news to denounce the requirement as  “the most egregious kind of violation of freedom of speech” and an Orwellian Dictate. The Catholic Civil Rights League has objected to the Statement on the basis that it “may override core Christian beliefs.” Even Conrad Black (whose affiliations with the Law Society are unknown) published an editorial in which he condemned the Law Society for conferring “capricious dictatorial powers on its own administration.”

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The Rental Fairness Act: What does it mean for renters in Ontario?

June 30th, 2017 by Safia Lakhani

This article was first published on rabble.ca

The Rental Fairness Act, (the “RFA”) is part of Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, a strategy released in April 2017 to promote affordable housing in Toronto. The RFA, which received Royal Assent on May 30, 2017, eliminates the exemption to rent increase rules and requires landlords to compensate tenants if they wish to terminate a tenancy for personal use. Below are some of the key amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, (the “Act”) and what they mean for affordable housing in Ontario. Read the rest of this entry