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Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin has announced that she will retire effective Dec. 15.

McLachlin, who was selected as a “Top 25 Most Influential Lawyer” by Canadian Lawyer multiple times, is widely respected in the legal profession for her leadership on the court as well as her outspokenness on issues such as access to justice, free speech, diversity and inclusive leadership.

Her judicial career began in 1981 when McLachlin was appointed to the Vancouver County Court. In 2000, she was appointed Chief Justice of Canada. McLachlin is the first woman to hold this position.

She is also Canada’s longest-serving chief justice, having held the position for nearly 18 years.

A lawyer who was heavily criticized by a Superior Court of Justice judge for her role in a custody battle involving the Children’s Aid Society has been ordered to personally pay $100,000.

The custody battle gained widespread attention earlier this year after Justice Grant Campbell ruled that two lawyers retained through Legal Aid, Brigitte Gratl and Jane McKenzie, provided incompetent counsel to their clients, the mother and father of a daughter who had been removed by authorities.

The removal came after a Motherisk drug test on the mother, which has since been disproved, and led Campbell to decry the child welfare system in the province as “broken.”

In the latest ruling on the case, C.A.S. of the R.M. of W. v. C.T. and J.B., 2017 ONSC 3188, Campbell ordered Gratl to personally pay $100,000, with $50,000 going to the Ontario Legal Aid Plan and $50,000 to the lawyer acting for the child’s mother, Julie Kirkpatrick.

Baker McKenzie LLP is taking an “R&D” approach to how it will deliver legal services in the future with the opening of its Whitespace Legal Collaboration lab last week in Toronto.

The collab, located on the 27th floor of the firm’s offices on Bay Street, is the first of its kind in the firm.

The idea is to bring in academics from nearby universities, as well as business and technology professionals and those involved in design thinking to work together on addressing challenges related to technology, business and law.

IBM Canada will be one of the first Whitespace collab partners along with several academic institutions such as the University of Toronto iSchool, University of Waterloo Problem Lab and York University’s Schulich School of Business.

Law Times reports that technology lawyers say recent regulatory decisions have set Canada and the U.S. on diverging tracks when it comes to net neutrality.

We asked readers if they support the elimination of data caps for home and mobile Internet use for Canadians. About 78 per cent said this will mean better long-term results for consumers, while about 22 per cent said no, this hurts innovation in the market.
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The Law Society of Upper Canada must produce up to 10 documents and/or video footage to a black member of the society who alleges he was discriminated against by a security guard when he attempted to enter the LSUC building last July, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled.

In an interim decision in Pieters v. Law Society of Upper Canada, Michael Gottheil, executive chairman of the HRTO, agreed with the appellant, Toronto lawyer Selwyn Pieters, that a variety of documentation should be produced to him by Ontario’s Law Society pertaining to his apprehension by a security guard when Pieters entered the Law Society building that day, the seizing of his membership card and Pieters’ subsequent experience in the Law Society building.

In emailed comments, Pieters indicated that he was pleased with the interim decision.

“The orders simply reflect that in cases of personal and systemic anti-black racism, the request for similar fact and other evidence in the possession of the respondents are appropriate given the obstacles inherent in proving racial discrimination,” Pieters said.

In a written statement to Legal Feeds, Law Society CEO Robert Lapper said, “The Law Society does not comment upon matters which are before the Courts or administrative tribunals, as in this case. That said, the Law Society does not believe that there was any conscious or unconscious bias or discrimination by any employee of the Law Society, as suggested by the applicant.”

The hearing in the case is set to begin on July 20 in Toronto, with continuation on July 21.

An organization led by a Toronto lawyer has received special recognition from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Dr. Fiona Sampson, CEO of the equality effect, is a lawyer and PhD with expertise in human rights law and women’s equality law, whose experience has guided the development of the organization. The equality effect is a Canadian non‑governmental organization based in Toronto. The UN recognition for best practices relates to the 160 Girls project, which works to achieve social justice for oppressed women and girls in Africa through use of the rule of law.

Jay Swartz has been awarded the Ontario Bar Association’s 2017 Murray Klein Award for Excellence in Insolvency Law.

Swartz, of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, was honoured June 5 at a reception in Toronto.

A Law Times columnist says artificial intelligence is expected to have a profound impact on society, and it requires immediate discussion about its use. We asked readers if they expect AI to be used in their practices in the next five years.

Forty-five per cent said yes, technological innovation is moving faster than ever before, while 55 per cent said no, they can’t see it factoring into their work that quickly.
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Ontario legal professionals were recently recognized for their exceptional achievements by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

The 2017 Law Society Awards were presented May 24 during a ceremony at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.

Among the winners, Breese Davies, of Toronto, received the Laura Legge Award.

“I am so delighted to have been selected the recipient of the 2017 Laura Legge Award. It is a real honour to be recognized by my colleagues for my small contribution to promoting and protecting the place of women in our profession and in the criminal defence bar,” Davies told Law Times in an email.  

“Although significant progress has been made over the last 20 years, there is still lots of work to be done to ensure true equity in the profession and to address the unique challenges faced by women lawyers.”  

Award winners also included: Thora H. Espinet, of Toronto, who received the Lincoln Alexander Award; Dena D. Castro, of Hamilton, who picked up the William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award; and Grace Alcaide Janicas, of Sault Ste. Marie, who received the J. Shirley Denison Award.

Law Society Medal recipients were: Patrick Case, of Guelph; Larry Chartrand, of Ottawa; Sarah E. Colquhoun, of Thunder Bay; Michael Eizenga, of Toronto; Marie Henein, of Toronto; Joanna Radbord, of Toronto; and Gary Yee, of Toronto.

Enzo Rondinelli, a lawyer with Lafontaine & Associates in Toronto, has been named the winner of the Ontario Bar Association Award of Excellence in Criminal Justice.

He will be honoured June 7 at a reception in Toronto.

“Receiving this award from such a distinguished organization is a truly humbling experience,” Rondinelli told Law Times in an email. “The OBA has been a big part of my professional career since day one, so this award is particularly special to me.”

Goldblatt Partners LLP welcomes three leading pension lawyers to the firm.

Susan Philpott, Simon Archer and Clio Godkewitsch will join Doug Lefaive in the Toronto office and, together with Fiona Campbell in Ottawa, will significantly expand the pension practice, said the firm in a press release.

Darrell Brown will round out the team as tax and corporate law counsel.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to contribute to the growth of a vibrant, trade union-focused pension and benefits practice,” Philpott told Law Times in an email.

A recent Law Times column examined whether the Law Society of Upper Canada should change its name to the Law Society of Ontario, in light of different social changes, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

We asked readers if the LSUC should change its name.

Fifty per cent said yes, it’s time for the LSUC to catch up with the times and update its name, while 50 per cent said no, the name of the LSUC is appropriate and changing it would not accomplish much.
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Ranjan Agarwal, a partner at Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto, is the recipient of the 2017 Canadian Bar Association Young Lawyers Pro Bono Award.

The annual award recognizes outstanding pro bono legal services to the community by a young lawyer in Canada.

Agarwal’s dedication to pro bono legal work includes “putting in countless hours on some of Canada’s most high-profile public interest litigation, as well as working on cases that will never make the headlines,” said the CBA in a press release.

Agarwal, who is also adjunct professor at the University of Toronto and president of the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto, donated the $500 Pro Bono Award prize to Pro Bono Ontario and has made a matching donation.

“I am slightly embarrassed to win an award for pro bono, when so many members of our bar, like those at Pro Bono Ontario and the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, have devoted themselves full time to the cause of access to justice,” Agarwal told Law Times in an email. “But I am so pleased that the CBA National Young Lawyers Forum has chosen to recognize pro bono and access to justice when making their annual award — we all must do more to meet unmet legal needs, and I hope this award can encourage other lawyers to do so.”

Elizabeth M. Brown of Hicks Morley LLP is the winner of the Ontario Bar Association Award of Excellence in Pensions and Benefits Law.

Brown’s contributions specifically to pension and benefits issues in the context of corporate insolvencies, human rights issues relating to pension and benefits plans, emerging plan designs and alternate funding models are widely recognized by all industry stakeholders including employers, lawyers and actuaries, said the OBA in a press release.

Brown will be honoured at an award dinner on June 14 in Toronto.

The Ontario Bar Association Foundation has begun accepting applications for two fellowships for the 2017-18 year.

The Fellowship in Research is open to full-time faculty teaching at a Canadian university or college, and the Fellowship in Studies is open to all OBA members who do not otherwise qualify for the fellowship open to full-time faculty.

The deadline for applications is July 3.

Applications are to be submitted by email, in PDF or Word format, simultaneously to Anton Katz at and Valerie Dallas at

A recent Court of Appeal decision acknowledged a “new reality” of civil litigation in which courts are seeing a significant number of self-represented litigants.

This week, readers were asked if the courts are doing a good job of addressing the needs of self-represented litigants.

About 39 per cent of respondents said yes, judges are doing a good job of ensuring trial fairness. But 61 per cent said no, courts have only just begun to consider the many issues surrounding self-represented litigants.
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Former Superior Court of Justice Maurice Cullity is the winner of the Ontario Bar Association Award of Excellence in Trust and Estates Law.

“I feel greatly honoured to receive the award,” Cullity told Law Times in an email.

In 1979, Cullity joined the law firm of Davies Ward & Beck and was a partner there until 1997, when he was then appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division), now the Superior Court of Justice, according to the OBA.

After Cullity left the court, he returned to private practice writing opinions on estates matters until his eventual retirement at the end of 2014.

“Maurice has left a legacy of multiple achievements in the development of the law in the areas of estate planning, tax, estate and trusts, and this OBA award of excellence represents a small token of respect and appreciation from those he touched,” said Archie Rabinowitz, partner at Gowlings WLG, in a press release.  

Cullity will be honoured at an award dinner on May 31 in Toronto.
Erin Dann has received the Dan Soberman Outstanding Young Alumni Award from Queen’s University.

This is not the first award for Dann, who graduated from Queen’s Law, where Dann won the Medal in Law for achieving the highest cumulative average in the class of 2007, according to a press release from Queen’s University.

“Since entering private practice in 2010,” said dean Bill Flanagan in presenting the award, “Erin Dann has quickly emerged as one of Canada’s brightest young criminal defence lawyers.”

As well as working on high-profile cases, including several appearances before the Supreme Court of Canada, Dann is a session co-ordinator for the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute, speaks regularly at continuing legal education seminars and lectures at Osgoode Hall Law School.

“Any measure of early success in my career is due in large part to my experience at Queen’s Law and to the many members of the faculty and staff who took a personal interest in my development as a law student,” said Dann in the press release. “They continue to offer me support and guidance.”

Allen & Co. LLP and Berkeley Counsel announce the merger of their law practices to form Ingenuity LLP in Toronto.

Since 2010, the firms have approached every client relationship with the same goal — to provide top-tier legal advice at a small-firm cost, Ingenuity said in a press release.  

Beyond its experience in traditional areas of corporate law practice, Ingenuity said it has particular expertise in drafting shareholder agreements, advising restaurateurs and retailers in establishing new venues, establishing and selling solar power generating facilities in Ontario, representing issuers and agents in the areas of mining finance and M&A, advising technology start-ups and advising employers on wrongful dismissal, workplace human rights and sexual harassment issues.

A Law Times column states that privacy may be a quasi-constitutional right but it does not receive the protection that it deserves. We asked readers if they think there is a need to overhaul the Privacy Act.

Sixty-nine per cent said yes, there are legitimate reasons for Canadians to be concerned about the protection of personal privacy, while 31 per cent said no, the laws are fine as they exist now.
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Stephen Grant, a partner at Grant Crawford & Watson LLP, has been named the winner of the Ontario Bar Association Award of Excellence in Family Law, in Memory of James McLeod.

The award recognizes outstanding OBA members for their accomplishments in the development of family law, their leadership in the profession, their ability to take on and advance precedent-setting cases and their involvement in advancing the practice of alternative dispute resolution, said the OBA in a press release.

“In light of the overall excellence of the family bar, it’s very gratifying to be receiving this award,” Grant told Law Times in an email.

Grant is known as a selfless and tireless teacher, mentor and author, according to the OBA.

“As someone who has both faced Stephen in court and fought side by side as partners, I can honestly say that I much prefer the latter,” said Gerry Sadvari, counsel with Grant Crawford & Watson, in the press release.

“As a leader of the family bar for decades, there is no better family law counsel active today and no one more deserving of this long overdue award.”

This award is in memory of James G. McLeod, an esteemed and much respected lawyer who has been referred to as “the most influential figure in family law in the past 25 years” and who died at the young age of 57, said the OBA. The celebration honouring Grant will take place June 12 in Toronto.

Loly Rico has been named the recipient of the Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award.  

The award is given annually to a woman whose work demonstrates a commitment to changing the lives of women who experience violence for the better.

As founder and co-director of FCJ Refugee Centre in Toronto, Rico is a recognized leader for the rights of refugee women facing violence, said the clinic in a press release.

“It is very special because the Barbra Schlifer award has a lot of meaning, especially for women who have been in situations of violence,” said Rico, in an email.

Miller Thomson LLP welcomes two new lawyers to its Toronto office. Associate counsel Damien Buntsma was previously with Lawrence Lawrence Stevenson LLP, while associate Stephanie De Caria comes via Fogler Rubinoff LLP.

Buntsma’s practice area is labour and employment, while De Caria’s expertise is in insolvency and commercial litigation.

The federal government has tightened security at the federal courts in order to improve safety, such as installing metal detectors.

We asked readers if they thought this was a good investment.

Sixty-one per cent said yes, having people go through metal detectors and getting their belongings screened will improve security.

Thirty-nine per cent said no, lawyers should not be subjected to security screening as it will be an inconvenience.
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The president of the Ontario Bar Association says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the government finally has a plan in place to make e-filing a provincewide reality following the launch of a pilot project for online filing of civil claims by the Ministry of the Attorney General.

“The Ontario Bar Association has long advocated for an e-filing system in the Superior Courts of this province,” David Sterns told Law Times.

“This pilot project is an important first step in this direction.” 

The first phase of the pilot project, launched April 24, allows for e-filing of civil claims in the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton, Ottawa, London, Newmarket and Sudbury.

“The government has shared with us its plan and timeline for the creation of an e-filing system for all parts of the province covering all filings in Superior Court,” says Sterns.

“We are cautiously optimistic that it finally has the plan, funding and team in place to make this happen.”

Emilie Smith, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, told Law Times that the provincial government “is committed to making the justice system simpler and faster for all Ontarians.”

Smith says the pilot service allows the filing of the following documents with the Superior Court of Justice: statements of claim, notices of action, affidavits of litigation guardians for plaintiffs under disability, request for bilingual proceedings and consent to file documents in French.

“In Phase 1, users will be able to e-file documents online to file a notice of action or statement of claim for all proceedings, pay court fees online and receive court-issued documents by email,” says Smith.

“In future phases, users will be able to e-file additional documents that are part of their civil claim.”

The pilot period is expected to last up to six months.

Robichaud’s Criminal Defence Litigation opened its new criminal law office in London, Ont. on May 1. The new office will serve as Robichaud’s third Ontario location, along with its main Toronto and York Region offices. Robichaud said it hopes to open more localized offices throughout the province in the coming months.

Torys LLP announces two new hires in its Toronto office.

Jill E. McCutcheon joins as partner, while Kelly Morris signs on as senior counsel. McCutcheon and Morris bring their expertise in bank and insurance regulatory matters to their new firm.
Both were previously with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Toronto where they each served as partner.

Law Times reports that the LSUC has approved a sliding cap for referral fees for lawyers. We asked readers if they think changes to the rules will bring increased transparency to the referral process.

Twenty-nine per cent said yes, the new changes will increase public confidence in the profession, while 71 per cent said no, there is no guarantee this will bring enhanced transparency, as it’s unclear how the new rules will be enforced.
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Paul Jonathan Saguil is among a group of lawyers being recognized by the Ontario Bar Association for their contributions to the practice of law in the province.

Saguil, of TD Bank Financial Group, will receive the OBA’s Heather McArthur Memorial Young Lawyers Award for his “exceptional” contributions to the development of equality rights jurisprudence and to legislative and policy reform to benefit members of equity-seeking groups, said the OBA in a press release.

“I stand here with and because of many others who have paved the way and who keep fighting the good fight,” says Saguil.

“Although we celebrate what we have collectively accomplished thus far in trying to, for example, address challenges faced by racialized licensees, keep legal education and the justice system accessible and inclusive, and strengthen the protections available for the LGBTQ2S communities and other vulnerable groups, we still have a long way to go in making this profession and this country truly more just and equitable and we cannot afford to become complacent.”

Other award recipients include: Christopher Arthur W. Bentley of the Ryerson University Law Practice Program, Craig R. Carter of Fasken Martineau and Orlando V. Da Silva of the Ministry of Attorney General, who are winners of the OBA’s Award for Distinguished Service; C. Katie Black, judicial affairs advisor to the minister of Justice and attorney general of Canada, winner of the inaugural David Scott, Q.C., Award for Pro Bono Law; and Sarah Clarke, Sébastien Grammond, Anne Levesque and David Taylor, winners of the OBA’s President’s Award for their work representing the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, pro bono, in its efforts to secure equality for First Nations children in Canada.

Michael J. Bryant will be the guest speaker at the annual meeting and dinner of the Medico-Legal Society of Toronto, to be held May 17 in Toronto.

Addiction Verdiction for the Medio-legal Practitioner will be the theme of the speech by Bryant, who served as Ontario’s attorney general from 2003 to 2007.

The evening will also include the presentation of the 2017 Medico-Legal Society Award, the society’s highest honour, to Dr. Laura Hawryluck, associate professor of critical care medicine at the University of Toronto.

The Law Foundation of Ontario opened a new call for applications to fund innovative legal projects in the area of family law through its national Access to Justice Fund.

The call for applications includes one round for small grants of less than $15,000 and one round for major grants of up to $250,000. The deadlines for applications are June 30 and Oct. 2, respectively. Full details can be found at:

In a recent report, Justice Michael Tulloch said there is “no reason” why the director of the province’s Special Investigations Unit needs to be a lawyer. We asked readers if they agreed with Tulloch.

Forty-one per cent said yes, there is no reason why the head of the SIU needs to be a lawyer, especially given that this is not a requirement in other places, while 59 per cent said no, the role requires a specialized knowledge of criminal investigations and the professional expertise a lawyer brings.
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A certification motion for a class action lawsuit against Deloitte LLP involving document reviewers has been adjourned for 60 days while class counsel seek a new representative plaintiff.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba certified the action April 13, but it is still subject to court approval of amendments to the proposed class definition and the replacement of the representative plaintiff, Shireen Sondhi.

The court gave lawyers for the plaintiffs until June 12 to find a new representative plaintiff or the action will be dismissed. Sondhi v. Deloitte Management Services LP, Deloitte & Touche LLP and Procom Consultants Group Limited was first filed in March 2015 and sought $384 million on behalf of hundreds of lawyers working at a document-review company Deloitte acquired in 2014.

The action alleges that document reviewers working for Deloitte were misclassified as independent contractors and should have been employees.

The claim seeks compensation for unpaid vacation, unpaid statutory holiday pay and unpaid overtime.

Lawyers for the plaintiff class said in a press release that the ruling is a “significant step forward for misclassified workers who do not have the same protections as employees.”

“This certification motion shows that employers who misclassify employees as contractors can have substantial liability towards those workers, no matter what the contract says,” said plaintiff class lawyer Andrew Monkhouse.

None of the allegations has been proven in court, and Deloitte denies liability. A spokesperson for Deloitte said, “We believe that the claim has no merit and we will vigorously defend the class action. As the matter is now before the courts, it is not our intention to discuss the matter publicly.”

Professor Rachel Birnbaum of Western University is inviting lawyers and mental health professionals to complete a survey on the use of smart technology for increasing parent-child contact after separation or divorce. The survey link is:

Shalini Konanur, executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, has been awarded the 2017 OBA Award of Excellence in the Promotion of Women’s Equality.

She oversees SALCO’s litigation, advocacy and outreach on issues that impact low-income South Asian Ontarians.

Recreational marijuana use will be legalized, and lawyers say there will be an increase in criminal charges and civil cases as a result. Readers were asked if they supported pot legalization.

Seventy-three per cent of respondents said yes, while there will be an impact on the courts, the overall social benefits of legalization are positive, while 27 per cent said no, the move to legalize marijuana is short-sighted and will lead to negative social results, including longer court delays.
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Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould announced Ontario appointments under the new judicial application process.

The new process, unveiled Oct. 20, 2016, emphasizes transparency, merit and diversity, and it will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity, according to the federal government.

David M. Paciocco, a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa, is appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. He replaces Justice J.I. Laskin, who elected supernumerary status effective Sept. 1, 2016.

Deborah Swartz, a sole practitioner in Kingston, Ont., is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice and a member of the Family Court in Kingston effective April 10. She will replace Justice C. Robertson, who will become a supernumerary judge effective April 10.

Wilson-Raybould also announced Shaun S. Nakatsuru will become a Superior Court of Justice judge in Toronto to replace M.A. Sanderson, who became a supernumary judge June 20, 2016.

Nakatsuru currently is a judge with the Ontario Court of Justice.

Robyn M. Ryan Bell, a partner at Bennett Jones LLP, is appointed a judge with the Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa. She will replace G.P. Smith, who became a supernumary judge Oct. 30, 2016.

Seven Canadian organizations have been recognized and awarded for their efforts to advance gender equality.

Baker McKenzie, Scotiabank, Teck Resources, Critical Mass Women, BMO, Catalyst and Thomson Reuters were chosen as the winners by the public via online voting, organized by the Canadian Chapter of the UN Global Compact Network Canada.

The awards recognize the initiatives taken by the companies to adopt the UN’s seven Women’s Empowerment Principles.

The seven organizations have demonstrated outstanding leadership with practices that are aimed directly at addressing gender inequality, the Global Compact Network Canada said in a press release.

The University of Toronto Faculty of Law has announced the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipients — Melissa Kennedy, executive vice president and chief legal officer and public affairs at Sun Life Financial Inc., and Herb Solway, a founding member of Goodmans LLP. The Wilson Prichard Award went to Michelle Henry, a partner in the labour and employment group at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Toronto, and Claire Hunter, a partner at Hunter Litigation Chambers in Vancouver.

Recently, Law Times reported that the Law Society of Upper Canada had issued an eight-month suspension to a lawyer, Sarah Jackson, who admitted to providing heroin to a friend who later died from an overdose. We asked readers if they think the suspension is fair.

Thirty-six per cent said an eight-month suspension is fair, given that Sarah Jackson was acquitted of manslaughter and found not guilty of criminal negligence causing death.

Sixty-four per cent said an eight-month suspension seems like too little, given that Sarah Jackson did not report criminal charges she was facing to the LSUC.
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A Law Times columnist says given the responsibility to uphold the Charter of Rights and its associated values, Canadian lawyers should respect and defend press freedom. Do you feel press freedom in Canada is under threat?
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