Media Advisory: Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Annual “Law and Freedom” Conference Line-Up Announced

Media Advisory: Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Annual “Law and Freedom” Conference Line-Up Announced

The line-up of speakers for the CCF’s third annual Law and Freedom Conference, to be held at Hart House at the University of Toronto from January 6-8, 2017, will feature Canada’s leading thinkers on law and policy discussing some of today’s most controversial legal issues.

Members of the press interested in any of the issues below, or in attending all or part of the conference, should contact the CCF’s Howard Anglin or Russell Phillips at the address below.

Conference Program Highlights:

1. Keynote Address by the Hon. Glenn Joyal, Chief Justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench on the topic of: “The Charter and Canada’s New Political Culture: Are We All Ambassadors Now?”

Chief Justice Joyal will explore whether there remains any room for concerns about an institutional imbalance — particularly, a dominant and even domineering judiciary — and its effects on Canadian democratic deliberation about the content and importance of rights.

2. The state of free speech on university campuses

Campus speech codes, safe spaces, trigger warnings, shouting mobs, and censoring of faculty who hold unpopular views: come hear Ari Cohn, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (F.I.R.E.), discuss the state of free speech and academic freedom on Canadian and American university campuses.

3. Constitutional barriers to Parliament unilaterally changing our federal voting system.

Two of Canada’s leading experts on our democratic system, Professors Patrice Dutil (Ryerson University) and Michael Pal (University of Ottawa), will discuss whether, in light of recent Supreme Court decisions and the precedent of Canadian provinces holding referenda before trying to change their voting systems, an attempt by Parliament to change the Canadian electoral system unilaterally would be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.

4. Is there a place for doctors’ conscience rights in a secular medical system?

A frank exchange of views between attorneys Albertos Polizogopoulos, who is representing Ontario doctors challenging provincial regulations on physician-assisted death and abortion that they allege violate their conscience rights, and Ricardo Smalling of Queen’s University, co-author of a paper arguing that allowing doctors’ to selectively refuse to offer certain treatments to which they object on moral grounds violates patients’ rights.

5. The launch of a new Manning Centre study of Supreme Court voting patterns

Manning Centre Director of Research, Peter McCaffrey, and Portia Proctor, will unveil their new analysis of Supreme Court decision-making over the last 15 years. University of Waterloo Political Science professor, Emmett Macfarlane, author of “Governing from the Bench: The Supreme Court of Canada and the Judicial Role,” an inside look at how the Supreme Court decides cases, will join them to discuss this under-explored topic.

6. Ontario’s abuses of Civil Forfeiture laws: taking property without a criminal conviction

Attorneys Justin Safayeni and Shawna Fattal will discuss cases on which they have personally worked in which the Ontario government has and continues to overstep the bounds of justice in its abuse of provincial civil forfeiture laws. Ms Fattal will highlight a shocking new case in which the Canadian Constitution Foundation is supporting a couple who face the seizure and sale of two rental properties without even an allegation of criminal activity on their part.

7. Privacy and Surveillance: Current threats from the government and private companies

Privacy law experts Douglas King of the Pivot Legal Society and Sharon Polsky, President of the non‑profit Privacy and Access Council of Canada, will discuss recent developments and current challenges in privacy and surveillance law and practice. Mr King will provide an update on his campaign to curtail the use of StingRay cell-phone surveillance devices by Canadian police.

8. Gérard Comeau’s “beer freedom case” may be headed to the Supreme Court

In the wake of New Brunswick’s announcement that it will seek leave to appeal the decision invalidating a provincial law that restricted the free trade and transport of alcohol into the province from another Canadian province, this panel will explore the meaning of section 121 — the so-called “free trade clause” — of the Canadian Constitution. Ian Blue, QC, one of Mr Comeau’s lawyers and the man who almost single-handedly revived the original meaning of section 121, will be joined by Asher Honickman, author of a recent analysis of the case, and historian John Robson.

For the full list of panels and times, please the event page and schedule here.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation (“Freedom’s Defence Team”) is a registered charity, independent and non-partisan, whose mission is to defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through education, communication and litigation.