Day: June 9, 2014

Book Review – Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

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charterbookreviewBy Ken Fox

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 5th ed.
Edited by Errol P. Mendes and Stéphane Beaulac
Markham: LexisNexis, 2013
1411 pp

A nation is not a monolith, nor is its constitutional law. Both are historical amalgamations, constructed and contested by generations of people.  The 5th edition of LexisNexis Canada’s Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, edited by Errol P. Mendes & Stéphane Beaulac, presents a chorus of diverse voices on a wide-range of Charter-related topics. But rather than a collection of individual essays, the book aims to be a single collective work on the Charter, with a comprehensive six-part structure. There is a Table of Cases, but regrettably no index.

This new edition has 26 chapters by 30 authors. But to add to the crowd of voices, only ten of the 30 appeared in the 4th edition, and none were in the first edition, published by Carswell in 1982. A total of 70 authors have contributed to five bilingual editions by two publishers. More than a single overview of the Charter and its judicial interpretation, the successive editions of this work themselves constitutes a rich interpretive history by several generations of legal scholars, practitioners and judges.

Unlike the first two editions, the current text is not fully bilingual. There are 16 English chapters and 10 French chapters on various topics. Some of the chapters are translated versions of chapters from previous editions. Most major Charter topics have a chapter in either English or French in a recent edition. One exception is that none of the past three editions have an English chapter on Charter language rights in sections 16-22.

In some cases a chapter is updated and carried over from a previous edition, other times a chapter is replaced with a new one on the same topic by a different author. Or, in the case of Errol P. Mendes’ take on section 1, the intervening 8 years have occasioned a substantially new chapter by the same author. Mendes shows a complex history of the creation and interpretation of the “limitations” clause in section 1, and provides critical comment on how the courts have used the limitations clause to defer power to legislation. Whether or not you agree, his analysis is lively and erudite.

In further chapters by other authors, the same level of critical engagement persists. There is never a sense of a boring dichotomy where the law lies as a stone slab which the courts and tribunals only interpret, creating binding authorities. Nothing is fixed, everything is always moving. The authors suggest avenues for future challenge and highlight neglected corners of key judgments that leave room for re-interpretation.

Likely, it is in the nature of a constitutional Charter to inspire such active engagement, and it is clear that the authors are active players in its evolution. Still, one cannot deny that they fully embraced the opportunity to bring their readers to the game, to open our eyes to this field of battle on which we all live.

For a great time, come to the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library and check out this book. Call Number: KF 4483 .C519 .C21 2013.

Free CPD

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By Melanie Hodges Neufeld

If you have not registered for this free webinar yet (for one CPD hour credit), there is still time.

The Law Society Library is presenting a free one hour webinar on Tuesday, June 10 at noon – Navigating the Members’ Section: The Resources Available to Law Society of Saskatchewan Members

This webinar will highlight online resources that are available to Law Society of Saskatchewan members in the Members’ Section of the Law Society website. Resources include in-house publications such as the Queen’s Bench Practice Manual, the Saskatchewan Practice Checklists, and subscriptions such as O’Brien’s Online Forms and Criminal Spectrum. Through the use of legal research scenarios, participants will learn which resources are most useful in a given situation and/or area of law, and how to most effectively use each resource.

This webinar will be presented by Melanie Hodges Neufeld, Director of Legal Resources at the Law Society of Saskatchewan. Melanie is responsible for administration of the traditional library, as well as developing and recommending a strategic plan for the management of legal information within the Law Society and the province. Melanie is a lawyer with a background in administrative law and policy development. She also recently completed her Master of Laws from the University of Saskatchewan in the area of restorative Justice.

This webinar qualifies for one (1.0) CPD hour under the Law Society’s CPD Policy.

We are pleased to offer this webinar free of charge for all Law Society of Saskatchewan members. Online registration and more details are available here. Once you have completed the online registration form your registration will be complete.