Category Archives: What we’ve Done


HOW TO [BE A BETTER] CHAIR [OF] AN ACADEMIC PANEL You didn’t choose the timing, the format or the speakers. You aren’t the organizer. But you’re the Chair. What now?

My colleague Dayna Scott and I have been thinking quite a bit about chairing of academic panels, having seen enough examples of how it can be done so as to exclude, shut out, shut down, and some shining examples of how it can be done so well.

We came up with this set of thoughts.  What do you think? Every time we ask someone they offer better ideas or incisive critique, so have at it in the comments or get at us via twitter @osgoodeifls  #FairChair


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link will take you to PDF version

link will take you to PDF version


IFLS Roundtable on Judges, Ethics & Inquiries: March 1st, 530PM Downtown

MARCH 1 530PM 730PM





Download the extended program here or read more below.

This roundtable welcomes together legal academics, practitioners and law students to talk about the implications of recent judicial inquiries which brought questions of gender, among other issues, to the fore.   Together we can begin to think through our answers to questions including:

  • What have we learned about how the role of the judge is understood through these inquiries and surrounding public discourse?
  • What expectations about judicial language and behaviour do the outcomes of the Inquiries suggest?
  • Is the process set up for judicial inquiries working? Are there changes we would propose and why?
  • What are the implications for judicial appointments?
  • How do gender, race and indigeneity figure in the Camp and Douglas Inquiries and more broadly in our discourse about what good judging requires and who would be a good judge?
  • What strategic questions do we need to consider in terms of when and how to draft complaints to the Canadian Judicial Council?

Our invitees will speak briefly before a group discussion

Alice Woolley, Professor, University of Calgary, Faculty of Law
Fathima Cader, Barrister and Solicitor, McMahon, Morrison, Watts
Molly Reynolds, Barrister and Solicitor, Torys LLP
Kim Stanton, Barrister and Solicitor, Goldblatt Partners LLP
Nana Yanful, Barrister and Solicitor
Sonia Lawrence, Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School

Texts/Context for Further Reading

Inquiry Committee Regarding the Honourable Robin Camp: Report

  • Other documents related to the Camp Inquiry available here including submissions of interveners, response to the Report, etc. available here.
  • Alice Woolley (2017) The resignation of Robin Camp: background and reflections from Canada, Legal Ethics, 20:1, 134-137, DOI: 10.1080/1460728x.2017.1346550 To link to this article:
  • “Racism and the Robin Camp Inquiry.” Accessed February 16, 2018.
  • Woolley, Alice, “Empathy in the Law: Does the Robin Camp Inquiry Committee Recommendation Encourage a ‘Postempathy Era’? – Slaw.” Accessed February 16, 2018.


Inquiry Committee Regarding the Honourable Lori Douglas (all documents) here



Reforms and Changes

Sexual Assault Training

Bill C-337 An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code (sexual assault) (Short Title Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act “This enactment amends the Judges Act to restrict eligibility for judicial appointment to individuals who have completed comprehensive education in respect of matters related to sexual assault law and social context. It also requires the Canadian Judicial Council to report on continuing education seminars in matters related to sexual assault law. Furthermore, it amends the Criminal Code to require that reasons provided by a judge in sexual assault decisions be entered in the record of the proceedings or be in writing”  This Bill died in the Senate.

Ontario Bill 120 Mandatory Sexual Assault Law Training for Judicial Officers Act, 2017 “Currently, under section 43 of the Courts of Justice Act, the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the Attorney General for the appointment of provincial judges.  New subsection 43 (10.1) provides that the Committee cannot consider a candidate unless he or she has completed comprehensive sexual assault law education.

Section 51.10 of the Act is amended to require the plan for the continuing education of judges to require judges to complete education in respect of matters related to sexual assault law.

  • “CJC Considers Imposing Mandatory Professional Development on Federal Judges – The Lawyer’s Daily.” Accessed February 16, 2018.
  • “CJC ‘Very Hopeful’ Senate Will Heed Red Flags Judiciary Raised about Judicial Training – The Lawyer’s Daily.” Accessed February 16, 2018.
  • “Requiring Written Reasons in Sex Assault Cases Will Add to Court Delays, CBA Warns – The Lawyer’s Daily.” Accessed February 16, 2018.
  • “Women’s Advocates, Defence Counsel Call for Transparency from Judiciary on Sexual Assault Law Training for Judges – The Lawyer’s Daily.” Accessed February 16, 2018.


Reforming the Canadian Judicial Council Process


Part II – Canadian Judicial Council in Judges Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. J-1)


Department of Justice Canada Possibilities for further reform of the Federal Judicial Discipline Process JUNE 2016 [consultation closed August 2016]

“New Chief Justice Says System for Dealing with Complaints against Judges Needs Work | CBC News.” CBC, February 5, 2018.



Tuesday Feb 13 1230 (Lunch) Transgender Challenges with Osgoode Arthurs’ Visiting Professor Sharon Cowan (Edinburgh)

Sharon Cowan is coming as an Arthurs Visitor to Osgoode Hall Law School from Feb  8 to March 3. On Feb 13, she’ll give a talk (this was originally scheduled for Feb 16 but has been moved). All welcome but pls RSVP so we get the food order right.


This talk will describe preliminary findings from Professor Cowan’s comparative socio-legal project looking at the impact of law on transgender people in three jurisdictions.

1230PM Room 2027 Osgoode Hall Law School RSVP

DATE CHANGE TUESDAY FEBRUARY 13 2018 DATE CHANGE TRANSGENDER CHALLENGES: IDENTITY EQUALITY AND COMMUNITY VISITING PROFESSOR SHARON COWAN, PROFESSOR OF FEMINIST AND QUEER LEGAL STUDIES (EDINBURGH LAW) This talk will describe preliminary findings from Professor Cowan's comparative socio-legal project looking at the impact of law on transgender people in three jurisdictions. Sharon will be visiting Osgoode and the IFLS February 9 to March 3 2018. 1230PM Room 2027 Osgoode Hall Law School RSVP

Happy Feminist Friday with Sarah Morales!

This Feminist Friday we are thrilled to profile Prof. Sarah Morales!

Sarah Morales received her J.D. from the University of Victoria in 2004.  She received her LL.M. from the University of Arizona in 2006, where she was the Department of Justice Congressional Fellow.  In 2005-2006, she clerked for the Pasqua Yaqui Tribal Appellate Court and the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.  She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Victoria in 2015, where she was awarded the Canadian Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council.  She was also the Chancellor’s Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois in the School of American Indian Studies.

Professor Morales joined the Faculty of Law in 2011, where she teaches Tort, Aboriginal Legal Issues and International Human Rights & Indigenous Peoples.

Professor Morales’ research interests are generally in the area of Aboriginal and human rights law.  Specifically, she is committed to the recognition and reconciliation of Indigenous legal traditions with the common law and civil law traditions in Canada.  Her dissertation, entitled “Snuw’uyulh: Fostering an Understandingo of the Hul’qumi’num Legal Tradition”, examines the Coast Salish legal tradition and attempts to demonstrate the significance of this legal tradition within the Canadian legal system.

In addition to these academic interests, Sarah has been actively involved with Indigenous nations and NGOs across Canada through her work in nation building, inherent rights recognition and international human rights law.  Her community based research has resulted in the creation of policies and procedures that are reflective of the traditional laws of the communities who utilize them.

The qualities I admire most in a law professor are…humility, compassion, dedication and a commitment to helping transform Canada’s legal traditions and institutions.  I love learning from colleagues who help me to see the potential of law and who share that insight with their students as well.

The trait I deplore in a law professor is…when we take for granted the privilege we have in being able to teach young legal scholars, work on law reform projects, participate in community-based research and think and write about the things that matter most to us on a daily basis.  It’s a pretty incredible job and something to be grateful for.

The best time of day for writing is…any stolen moment throughout the day.  With a four year old and five month old, those stolen moments are far and few between; however, I have found the hours between 10 pm and 1 am to be quite productive, as of late.
My feminist heroes are…too many to name.  My grandmother and mother continue to inspire me every day, both in my work at the university, in my community and in my home.  I am also influenced daily by amazing feminist colleagues, who mentor and support me in so many ways.  Finally, I am inspired by the Indigenous women in my community, who when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges and barriers continue to fight, push forward and work hard to create a better life for themselves and their families.

Right now I am working on…a project with my community to create child and family wellness legislation based on our own Coast Salish laws and teachings.

Right now I am reading…a number of children’s books (to my littles) by Indigenous authors.  My daughter’s new favorite is You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith. It has a powerful message about how we can help to support each and lift each other and some beautiful illustrations by Danielle Daniel.  Little You by Richard Van Camp, was a gift from my sister, and is favourite to read to my son.

And I wish I were reading…The Wetiko Legal Principles by Hadley Friedland.  I am anxiously awaiting my preordered copy of this book, which promises to be transformative in how we think about Indigenous legal traditions.

I would recommend that all IFLS readers read…Birdie by Tracey Lindberg. After I finished reading Birdie I said to Tracey, “I didn’t read your book, I felt it.”  It is a beautifully written book that captures the external and internal struggles of so many Indigenous women.  In a time when Indigenous women are often overlooked by our justice system, I think it would be transformative if more people were able to empathize with our lived realities and struggles.

A song I love that doesn’t get enough airplay is…Poison & Wine by the Civil Wars.

If I wasn’t a law professor, I would…be spending my time at home with my kids, traveling with my family, working in my community, learning from my Elders, as a mental health advocate, learning Hul’q’umi’num … and much much more!  Thankfully this job already allows me to do some of these things!

The best part of clerking at the Pasqua Yaqui Tribal Appellate Court and the Navajo Nation Supreme Court was…working in justice systems that recognized and upheld Indigenous laws.  

The biggest lesson I’ve learned by studying Aboriginal law…is that Aboriginal law, as it has been developed in Canadian courts, will never foster reconciliation in Canada; however, a recognition and implementation of Indigenous legal traditions may.

Many thanks, Prof. Morales! Your recommendations are amazing.

Friday Feb 2 (Lunch) 130 Shining the Light: A conversation with Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner of the OHRC

Renu Mandhane hasn’t been the Chief Commissioner of the OHRC very long, but it’s been long enough to know she’s doing things very differently.   Moving fast and publicly, she has moved the dial of public discourse on solitary confinement, racial profiling, and many other critical issues of the right to equality.

Join us on Friday Feb 1 for a conversation with Renu, covering the campaigns she’s spearheaded, and her views about the relationship between law, advocacy, activism and social change.

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 2 2018 SHINING THE LIGHT: A CONVERSATION WITH RENU MANDHANE, CHIEF COMMISSIONER OF THE OHRC Since being appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in October 2015, Renu Mandhane has worked tirelessly to shine the bright light of public attention on human rights issues long ignored by mainstream discourse here in Ontario. We will cover some of the recent campaigns and reports by the OHRC, think about relationships between law, lived experience, advocacy and social change, discuss the work of lawyering for change, and more. RSVP Lunch provided. TIME CHANGE 130PM Room 2027 Osgoode Hall Law SchoolRSVP please, because…lunch provided.