Category Archives: Law and History

You Can Blame Mackenzie King for Ford

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By Adam Coombs Doug Ford invoking the Notwithstanding Clause to slash the size of Toronto City Council generated fiery responses from both supporters and detractors. Regardless of where one stood on the issue, all commentators were quick to argue that their side was the one protecting democratic norms and practices while their opponents were undermining them. Premier Ford made this… Read more »

The Treaty of Cession: Historical Origins of a Very British Instrument of Dispossession

By Allan Greer The crucial passage in the written texts of each of the “numbered treaties” passed in the Prairie West states that the Indigenous signatories “cede, release, surrender, and yield up to the Government of Canada for Her Majesty the Queen” a designated region.  (Carter, 121). If the language sounds a little like a real estate transaction, earlier treaties… Read more »

History on Appeal: Originalism and Evidence in the Comeau Case

This essay is being jointly posted today with Acadiensis and Borealia. By Bradley Miller The Supreme Court declined this month to radically change the way that Canada works. In R v Comeau, lawyers for a New Brunswick man ticketed for bringing too many bottles of beer into the province from Quebec urged the justices to use the history of the… Read more »

Jury Selection and the Gerald Stanley decision

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By R. Blake Brown A jury’s decision to acquit farmer Gerald Stanley for second-degree murder in the death Colten Boushie, a Cree man, has brought jury selection issues to public attention in Canada. Press reports note that the jury lacked any Indigenous members, a composition achieved at least in part by the defendant’s use of ‘peremptory’ challenges. The Criminal Code… Read more »

The Collaboratorium – University of Saskatchewan Launches Initiative in Community-Engaged History

By Colin Osmond The University of Saskatchewan recently launched a unique and exciting initiative called the “Community-Engaged History Collaboratorium.” This is an extension of Prof. Keith Thor Carlson’s Research Chair in Indigenous and Community-engaged History, and is designed to be on the cutting edge of community-engaged scholarship (CES). In the Collaboratorium, faculty and students work in collaboration with First Nations,… Read more »

History on Trial in Daniels vs. Canada

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By William Wicken Last week the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the Daniels vs. Canada case. Writing for the court, Justice Abella declared that ‘Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” under section 91(24).’ Much has already been written about the decision and its possible implications. Less well known are the historical arguments which were the foundation of… Read more »

Lowered Expectations and The Historical Origins of the ‘Great Decoupling’ in Canada

by Christo Aivalis Recently many economists have emphasized that since the 1970s in western nations like Canada and the United States, high profits and productivity have been accompanied by stagnating wages, especially for lower income workers. These commentators, including Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, The New York Times’ Steven Greenhouse, and UNIFOR economist Jim Stanford,… Read more »

Coming Clean About Operation Soap: The 1981 Toronto Bathhouse Raids

By Forrest Picher Implicitly, gay men are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and supposedly enjoy the same rights as heterosexual people.1 Yet, there remains a legal discrimination against homosexual sex: homosexuals cannot engage in group sex, while heterosexuals can. Writing in 2014, Thomas Hooper explains “section 159 of the Criminal Code codifies mononormativity and maintains the… Read more »

Spoils of the War of 1812: Part III: Anishinaabe Aspirations

By Alan Corbiere This is the third part of a series of essays by Alan Corbiere focusing on Anishinaabe participation in the War of 1812.  The Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe, Odawa, Potowatomi) have always revered the island of Michilimackinac, so much so that at the conclusion of the War of 1812, the Odawa tried to keep it in their possession. The Odawa suggested… Read more »

The Anti-Terror Act: Government and Mobility in History

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By Bret Edwards Last month, the Canadian government introduced the Anti-Terror Act, following recent incidents in Ottawa and Quebec that have elevated fears about “violent jihadism” in Canada and its links to global organizations. There has been a lot of discussion about how new proposed powers of online surveillance in the Act will allow security objectives to trump freedom of… Read more »