Canadian Lawyer

May 2021

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UPFRONT 8 www.canadianlawyermag.com ONTARIO UPDATE THE ONTARIO government heard from opponents of its proposed changes to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee during a Committee on the Legislative Assembly session on March 11 and 12. The committee took submissions on pro- posed laws, including Bill 245, the Accelerating Access to Justice Act. The act would change the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee's composition and function, which recommends candidates to the attorney general for provin- cial court appointments. The province says the changes aim to fill judicial vacancies more quickly and increase diversity. Proposed changes to judicial appointments process under fire at provincial standing committee Criminal defence lawyer Janani Shan- muganathan submitted to the standing com- mittee on behalf of the South Asian Bar Association: Toronto Chapter in late March. In her submission, Shanmuganathan said the increase in the AG's influence over who is appointed "represents a step backward." "We are moving now much further down the spectrum toward political appointments and away from merit-based appointments. SABA doesn't want this," Shanmuganathan said. Attorney General Doug Downey addressed these criticisms in an interview with Law Times in February. "Any change is disconcerting for some peo- ple. Certainly, people who want to protect the status quo, it's disconcerting for them," Downey said. "I don't think that any part of our jus- tice system is working perfectly, is sacrosanct. I think that we need more diversity in many parts of our selection of judges. "I've landed in a space where the great majority of the legal profession is quite com- fortable. So, all that I can say is, I think, those who are trying to protect the status quo are the outliers on this." Diversity should not be a "token gesture," Shanmuganathan told Law Times. "You can't just claim diversity without any evidence that these proposed changes are actu- ally going to lead to a more diverse bench," she says. "So, in this circumstance, we don't have any evidence that there are diverse and deserv- ing candidates that are being overlooked by the current lists that are being provided to the attorney general." Diversity should not be a 'token gesture,' says Janani Shanmuganathan, a criminal defence lawyer Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, called on Ontario to reverse the act's proposed changes to the judicial appointment process. Democracy Watch will file a court case challenging the new appointments system's constitutionality if the changes are made law. "Democracy Watch's point is that the Ford cabinet is proposing dangerously unethi- cal changes to Ontario's appointment system for judges that will make the system open to patronage and cronyism and make it unconsti- tutional because of that political influence and interference that will be allowed," Conacher told Law Times. NEWS BRIEFS Animal rights group challenges Ontario's new 'ag gag' law The animal rights group Animal Justice has filed a lawsuit against the Ontario government, saying recently enacted legislation makes an offence out of Charter-protected methods activists use to expose animal cruelty. The application challenges the constitutionality of several sections of the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act. Animal Justice argues that these provisions are directed at key tactics animal rights activists employ.. Uber's pitch to provinces about eluding Employment Standards Act: lawyers In a recent pitch to provincial governments, Uber Canada advocates for new benefits and protections for app-based gig workers. Uber is calling on governments to require rideshare and food delivery apps to provide workers with contributions for paid time off; health, vision or dental insurance; tuition and education expenses and retirement savings. The company also said the apps should provide additional training and tools so drivers and couriers "feel safe and protected."

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