Henceforth legalese should not be used — i.e., it should cease, desist and be at an end

January 26th, 2017 by Celia Chandler

This post was first published on rabble.ca

Law is a tool. It’s a tool for everyone to use. And with increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court and using legal how-to books and online resources, everyone is using it. Lawyers and judges have a responsibility to talk and write clearly so that others can effectively use the tool.

Legalese is the term used for language used by lawyers and in legal documents that is difficult for ordinary people to understand. Here are four techniques that exclude others: Continue reading “Henceforth legalese should not be used — i.e., it should cease, desist and be at an end”

Affordable housing for all: Let’s make it an election priority

September 24th, 2015 by Celia Chandler

This post was first published on rabble.ca

Last week, I attended the AGM of Accommodation, Information and Support(AIS), a supportive housing provider for 104 Torontonians who have experienced mental health challenges and homelessness; many AIS tenants attended the meeting. Although AIS tenants have not had easy lives, they are lucky to have found permanent housing where they get the invaluable support services they need to live independently. Even as a mature organization with a 44-year history, AIS struggles to find money to create more housing. Each organizational resource ‑- financial and human -‑ is stretched to capacity, with no way to meet the burgeoning demand. The waitlist for people with mental health issues and/or addictions in Toronto has over 8,000 names — quadrupled in the last five years.

This is just one example of the critical need for a changed affordable housing landscape in Canada. Continue reading “Affordable housing for all: Let’s make it an election priority”

Come article with us!

May 12th, 2015 by Iler Campbell

We’re currently accepting applications for the 2016 – 2017 articling year. We’re looking for like-minded, progressive people to join our team. Please submit your application (including cover letter, resume, reference letters and copies of your transcripts) by Friday, July 3 to [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!

Rana Plaza victims still awaiting compensation after garment factory disaster

February 27th, 2014 by Kirsten Iler

Following the failed compensation talks in Geneva in September 2013, an agreement has now been reached and a process established to compensate the victims of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh. Very few of the 28 retailers involved, however, have signed the accord or agreed to provide compensation to victims and their families.

One of several Bangladesh garment factory disasters in recent times, the Rana Plaza building collapsed in April 2013, killing or injuring nearly 3,000 workers. Reports have since surfaced that the mainly female workforce were threatened with losing their pay if they refused to work that day, even though the building was already showing cracks. Once inside, the doors were locked and managers instructed workers to continue to work, even as the building began to shake and crumble.

To date, some emergency relief has been provided by a few retailers (notably, Primark and Loblaw, sister companies both controlled by the Westons). However, Rana Plaza victims still await compensation. Workers who survived but are disabled await medical care and rehabilitation. Families who lived off of the meagre wages of workers who died are now in dire straits.

Read more on rabble.ca

Do governments have to pay out on their contracts?

October 31st, 2013 by Laura Bowman

In light of debates about the real cost of government contracts, including the $14-billion fighter jets and the $1-billion Ontario gas plant cancellation, it is worth noting what the principles are that govern government contracts.

In principle, the legislatures of each province and territory (Parliament federally) have to approve all appropriations to or payments from the government’s big “one size fits all” bank account, the consolidated revenue fund. This is because of the provisions in the Canadian Constitution, and because of standing orders dealing with money bills in each jurisdiction. In practice, over time the legislative oversight of budgetary matters has weakened (mostly through changes to those same standing orders). These are dealt with through budgets presented first through the speech from the throne to maintain the fiction that all budgets are recommended by the Crown.

This raises an interesting constitutional question: Can the government of the day bind future legislatures to spend money through entering into contracts, whether they be collective agreements, or ordinary contracts to expend money over multiple years? The simple answer to this question is they should not be able to. The principle underlying this is that the government of the day should not, at least in theory, have the power to tell future elected representatives what budgets to pass or not pass or to bind them to do so.

The real answer is more complicated.

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