We’re Supposed To Trust Cops, Right?


3 Simmy Sahdra (Source - www.durhamradionews.com)

Photo credit: Durham Radio News

The police have high expectations placed upon them, as they are ideally a group of protectors, defenders, and enforcement of the law. While the majority of police may still meet these high expectations, a Toronto Star investigation recently uncovered some “hidden truths” in how the minority of police officers who do act badly are being disciplined and reprimanded for their poor behaviour inside and outside their role as police officers.

Overall, some overarching themes exposed through the investigation included police officers being treated too lightly for serious misconduct, and a lack of transparency. Many people would surely be shocked to find that some officers they may be approaching for help have in the past been involved in the following activities:

  • A York Region rookie hits his wife with an open hand so hard he ruptures her eardrum.
  • A Toronto police constable cheats on his sergeant exam on three separate occasions by having his girlfriend, who was also a police officer, radio him the answers.
  • An OPP constable drives a homeless Aboriginal man several kilometres out of town, and leaves him to walk back at dusk along a busy highway in near-freezing temperatures.

The above officers are still part of the police force, and when you think of the possible scenarios that could ensue—such as a victim of domestic abuse approaching an officer for help, when he himself abuses his wife—these are terribly problematic situations.

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Public vs Private

The Ethics of Regulating Robot Sex

Roxxxy, the sex robot. Photo credit: NBC.com

Roxxxy, the sex robot. Photo credit: NBC.com

The summer of 2015 has been a monumental season for robots. Just this July, a robotics company called Softbank released a humanoid robot that it claims is able to sense users’ emotions. Even more impressive, scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York developed a robot that broke new ground in demonstrating self-awareness. The robot’s artificial intelligence was able to pass a self-awareness test that previously only humans had been able to beat. While the broader ramifications of this achievement have yet to be ascertained, researchers claim that at the very least, this was a “mathematically verifiable awareness of self” by non-human intelligence.

With a new era of artificial intelligence and robotic responsiveness just around the corner, robot ethicists at de Montfort University in Leicester, England are attempting to draw attention to some of its potential dangers – particularly when it comes to robots that are being sold for sex use.

Humanoid sex toys are nothing new in our society, but a company called True Companions is currently producing what it advertises as the “world’s first sex robot.” The Roxxxy Doll is a female humanoid robot, customizable for race, hairstyle, and (bizarrely) toenail polish colour, which are to be used either to have a conversation with or to “interact physically” with. This is bad news, according to Kathleen Richardson, robot ethicist. Richardson is campaigning to attempt to dissuade scientists “to withhold code, hardware and ideas from robotics companies that are developing sex robots.”

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From Niqabs to Tom Brady

A look at this month’s most pointless appeals

Photo credit: CBC, Patrick Doyle/CP

Photo credit: CBC, Patrick Doyle/CP

In less than twenty-four hours, appeals were announced in two cases that made massive headlines both in Canada and the US. After the Federal Court of Appeal held that the ban against wearing niqabs during citizenship ceremonies is unlawful, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced on 18 September 2015 that they would appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). The day before, Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), made a formal declaration of his intent to appeal the Brady v NFL decision made earlier this month. Personally, I find both appeals ludicrous. If the SCC decides to hear the niqab case, it will more than likely add another notch to the very long list of losses for the conservative government in Ottawa. Goodell, on the other hand, has bullied his way to the point where not only his league, but also other leagues may suffer as a result.

Let’s take a look at these two appeal requests and see if there’s any chance of victory.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration v Zunera Ishaq

So far the government has spent almost $300,000 on this case. After paying what feels like that much to go to law school, that number scarily does not seem like a lot. However, spending any money on useless appeals and encouraging distracting issues during a federal election just annoys me on principle. Zunera Ishaq has removed her niqab for all security purposes, for her driver’s license, and for her actual citizenship test, but apparently that isn’t enough.

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Of Mice and Pen

Photo credit: Neuacademic.com

Photo credit: Neuacademic.com

For at least as long as The Paper Chase has been an element of our popular imagination, it seems there have been two dominant features of the first year law school curriculum: the case book and the Socratic method. Does this signature pedagogical approach really teach first years to “think like a lawyer?” Or is it an ineffective and antiquated form of teaching? Might it even be, as critics suggest, an “infantilizing […] tactic for promoting hostility and competition among students”that is “self-serving, and destructive of positive ideological values?”

Little did I realize the first semester of contracts, criminal law, and torts was at once the debut of the methodology as well as its pedagogical zenith. As soon as I had adjusted to the pace of question-and-answer based on hypothetical or case, by second semester, it seemed to diminish in discursive quality. Partly to blame are the students—exhausted by overwhelming readings and assignments, falling behind in the library, and distracted by Facebook and the daily news while in class. There are also the “gunners”who dominate the question-and-answer, evidently prepared, drowning out the rest, and certain to elicit schadenfreude among their peers when they inevitably blunder. Everyone knows the quiet ones do the best on exams anyway.

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Which Edition of the Toronto Blue Jays Is Better?

A Comparison of the 2015 Team with its 1992 Predecessor

Part Two: Examining the Outfield

16 Kenneth Lam

The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays Outfield: (From Left to Right) Left Fielder Ben Revere, Right Fielder José Bautista, and Centre Fielder Kevin Pillar. Photo credit: citynews.ca

Earlier in Part One, I compared the make-up of the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays infield with its 1992 counterpart and concluded that the former is stronger than the latter. Here in Part Two, I will look into the two teams’ outfield composition.

Left Field: Ben Revere (2015) versus Candy Maldonado (1992)

Analysis: Both Revere and Maldonado are solid players but have different strengths; Revere hits for a higher average and possesses higher speed while Maldonado hits for more power. However, I am inclined to give the edge to Revere. Even though Revere has only played forty-three games for Toronto as of 18 September 2015, he has been the undisputed starting left fielder and a significant upgrade for the Blue Jays since 31 July 2015. Prior to his arrival at the trading deadline, the position of left field had been a “rotating door” as Toronto used four different players—Chris Colabello started thirty-three games, the now-departed Danny Valencia started twenty-seven games, Ezequiel Carrera started nineteen games, and Kevin Pillar started thirteen games before becoming the full-time centre fielder—to man the position. As a Blue Jay, Revere has put up impressive offensive numbers (.313BA, 1HR, 13RBIs, 5SB) in limited at bats (166), provided stellar defense, and has been a strong table setter as the leadoff hitter—replacing the speed element that was lost in the departure of José Reyes. While Candy Maldonado—who interestingly, much like Revere, was also a mid-season acquisition by GM Pat Gillick in 1991 designed to stabilize the volatile left field position—had an all-around strong season in 1992 offensively (.272BA, 20HRs, 66RBIs in 137 games)and had a decent glove, Revere has clearly been more of an impact player for Toronto. Of note, Revere’s impressive showing with the Blue Jays is by no means a fluke as he is a lifetime .294 hitter (in 632 games) who has already hit over .300 twice (.305 in 2013 and .306 in 2014) and stolen more 40 bases twice (40SB in 2012 and 49SBs in 2014) while leading the National League in hits (184) in 2014.

Verdict: Revere over Maldonado by a step

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Resolving the Starving Artist Cliché

Part One: The Artist Resale Right

Published on the front page of a Parisian newspaper in 1920, this drawing by Jean-Louis Forain shows the young child of Jean-François Millet outside the auction house begging while her father’s work sold for high prices. Courtesy of Artists Space, a Manhattan based group at www.artistsspace.org.

Published on the front page of a Parisian newspaper in 1920, this drawing by Jean-Louis Forain shows the young child of Jean-François Millet outside the auction house begging while her father’s work sold for high prices. Courtesy of Artists Space, a Manhattan based group at www.artistsspace.org.

Over the next year, I have decided to pen a series of articles on a topic that remains very near and dear to me—artist rights and advocacy for visual artists. During my time at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London a few years ago, I authored Resolving the Starving Artist Cliché —a guide on implementing international schemes into Canada to assist access to justice for artists and poverty alleviation. According to a 2001 study “Artists in Canada” by Hill Strategies, artists earned nearly half of the average Canadian labour force. Thus, it is critical for various schemes to be implemented in order to assist artists economically and socially. The first of said initiatives I will explore is Droit de Suite or the Artist Resale Right (ARR).

Originating in France, ARR gives artists and their estates the opportunity to have a residual income on works of art when resold. As defined by Renée Pfister in Understanding International Art Markets and Management, “droit de suite constitutes the right of visual artists to a percentage share of the earnings from the resale of their works of art on the art market.” Of note, droit de suite can only be on sales on the secondary market between buyer and seller or intermediary, and are excluded from the first transaction, private sales, and works bought and sold within three years. Some believe the scheme was brought into legislation following the resale of Jean-François Millet’s work after his death for FF 1,000,000, whose works sold for FF 1,200 during his lifetime while his family lived in abject poverty. Others believe it to be the result of the collapse of the French Salon and therefore lack of state funding.

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The Aptly-Titled “Football Preview”

What are the ingredients for an unenviable offseason?

17 Kareem Webster

Guys like Adrian Peterson are longing to return to the field. Photo credit: www.smartfantasy.com

Well, start off with a “teaspoon” of a workplace investigation, followed by a report that implicates you in scandalous behaviour. Then, the Commissioner of the (National Football League) NFL drops a “pinch” of sanctions on the Patriots, with Tom Brady emerging scathed as the only suspended player on the team. How about a “scoop” of Ben Affleck’s nanny photographed wearing Brady’s Superbowl rings? Finally, we “sprinkle”some rumours about Brady having an extra-marital affair.

Bake for a few months and presto: a recipe for disaster.

Then, Brady does what Thomas Brady does and wins. With an all-star legal team, and a really weak amount of evidence from the league, the judge presiding over the case cleared Brady of all wrongdoing. This all happened about a week before the NFL regular season was set to start.

There is no such thing as bad publicity, right? The Patriots-Steelers game to kick off the NFL season drew record-setting ratings.

In the 2014 offseason, the headlines were the stance of the NFL on domestic violence. This season, the offseason was all about Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots for good and bad reasons.

Here is your NFL preview, albeit a couple of weeks into the season.

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A Concert Review: The Tallest Man on Earth

Live at Massey Hall, 4 September 2015

13 Justin Philpott 2

The Tallest Man on Earth performing “Thousand Ways” in Massey Hall

The Tallest Man on Earth is the moniker of Swedish folk-singer Kristian Matsson. Contrary to what his stage name suggests, Matsson is no bigger than your average horse jockey. His voice, however, is larger than life and is an integral part of his music. It bolts out the speaker like a horse from the turnstile at the start of a race. Matsson is touring this summer in support of his new Tallest Man on Earth album, Dark Bird is Home, which was released back in May on the Dead Oceans label. Since his debut album, Shallow Grave, released in 2008, Matsson has developed a loyal and growing fan base; a fan base which was put to the test with the release of Dark Bird is Home, the first Tallest Man on Earth album to feature a full band. It marks a significant change in style from his previous three albums, which consisted primarily of Matsson’s booming voice perfectly entwined with his acoustic guitar. No other frills seemed necessary. From the looks of things at Massey Hall on Friday night, I would say most of his fans have come to terms with his musical evolution. Although I am sure, if given the choice, most would rather it be just him and his acoustic guitar.

Dark Bird is Home by The Tallest Man on Earth (Dead Oceans)

Dark Bird is Home by The Tallest Man on Earth (Dead Oceans)

Matsson and his band hit the stage at Massey Hall full of energy, with him immediately jumping into the crowd and proceed to give the lucky fans in rows A to C high fives. The band opened with a brilliant version of the dream-like “Field of our Homes”, the opening track on Dark Bird is Home. As expected, the early part of the set featured a collection of songs from the new album. With a number of talented musicians behind him, I was wondering if and how Matsson would use them when he switched to playing songs from his earlier albums. Just then nightmares of a Bob Dylan concert I went to flooded my brain where Dylan had turned his classic songs into unrecognizable fragments of their former glory. Instead of nightmares, Matsson put the crowd in a state of ecstasy with full band renditions of “King of Spain,” “1904,” and “The Wild Hunt.” Matsson and his band also treated the sellout crowd to a cover of Blaze Foley’s “If I Could Only Fly.”

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A Community in Canada for Refugees

Learning from the Interim Federal Health Program

Nearly one in two Canadians do not agree with how the federal Conservatives have handled the refugee crisis. Photo credit: Newstalk1010

Nearly one in two Canadians do not agree with how the federal Conservatives have handled the refugee crisis. Photo credit: Newstalk1010

Canada is currently witnessing a revitalized interest in the plight of refugees, starting in early September when the tragic photos of the Kurdi family’s attempt to escape Syria were widely published in the news and shared on social media. Since then, a large number of different non-government organizations, activist groups, and public intellectuals have criticized Canada’s current refugee policies, claiming that more can, and should, be done to ensure that we provide adequate support for refugees. Many of these groups have made policy suggestions to both increase the number of refugees we have agreed take in and to speed up the refugee application process.

Many Canadians have expressed eager support for these changes to Canada’s refugee policies. However, there is little discussion on the issues that refugees face once they actually arrive in Canada and are properly admitted as refugees. While living conditions here are almost certainly better than those in their country of origin, refugees still face a number of different systemic challenges that should also be examined and criticized.

One of these challenges involves access to Canada’s healthcare system. Given the journey refugees undergo in order to escape their country of origin, many require healthcare services soon after their arrival in Canada. However, many of them have no financial resources to pay for the care themselves given the cost of travel and their socioeconomic background.

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The Gates are Open

Supreme Court Rules Ecuadorean Plaintiffs Allowed to Pursue Enforcement of Judgment Against Chevron

 A pool of oil in Lago Agrio, Ecuador (Source - the New York Times)

A pool of oil in Lago Agrio, Ecuador (Source – the New York Times)

In Yaiguaje v. Chevron Corporation, the plaintiffs, representing about 30,000 Ecuadorean villagers, seek damages from the defendant for injuries resulting from environmental pollution. They originally filed their claim in New York federal court in 1993, believing Ecuadorian courts to be ill-equipped to conduct a fair trial in such a matter. The defendants, however, sought a forum non conveniens dismissal, arguing that the Ecuadorian court system was fair and just. This jurisdictional dispute stalled the case for almost a decade, until the Second Circuit Court of Appeals finally granted the defendants a forum non conveniens stay in 2002.

The plaintiffs filed suit in Ecuador the following year, and after another protracted legal battle obtained a judgment against the defendants, which has since been upheld by Ecuador’s Court of Cassation. The judgment from the Ecuadorian court is worth US$9.51 billion.

Subsequently, the defendant, who before the judgment had proclaimed the fairness and integrity of the Ecuadorian courts, declared that the judgment in Ecuador had been obtained by fraud, and that it would refuse to pay it. This has spawned a cascading series of subsidiary litigation battles around the world – the dispute has spread to a whole host of other tribunals including the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, as well as domestic courts in the United States, Brazil, and Canada. In Canada, the plaintiffs brought proceedings against Chevron and its Canadian subsidiary, Chevron Canada, seeking to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment in Ontario.

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The Definitive Ranking of the Deans of Osgoode

From Arthurs to Wright, where will your favourite Osgoode dean rank?

“Look to your left, look to your right…”: the classic go-to of any law dean’s welcome address to the incoming students. Historically the saying would end, “one of you won’t be here by the end of the year,” an attempt to underline the cutthroat, competitive nature of law school. That said, deans have adapted and varied the line over the years. While giving the welcome speech is an important part of a dean’s functions, they do much more than that.

“Deans aren’t like Presidents of the United States, they’re administrators. They don’t have that much impact on the school,” remarked an Osgoode administrative staff member to me while doing research for this piece. Respectfully, deans are more than just administrators: they are the spiritual leader of the school, the public face of the faculty, the introducer of events, and responsible for shepherding a generation of legal minds.

Motivated by Dean Sossin’s reappointment as dean for a second term, it is worth looking back at Osgoode’s past deans and reflecting on their tenures. Often respected intellectuals and leaders in their area of expertise, comparing Osgoode’s deans to one another seems like an impossible task. But just as the bell curve must be applied to dubiously rank students relative to one another, these decanal rankings are no different.


Only full-time deans of Osgoode were considered for this list, including the deans of the school when it was located in downtown Toronto. Meaning that the principals of the law school that existed pre-1923, or any interim or acting deans, were not included. Deans were judged on the dual and equally weighted criteria of legacy to Osgoode and personal awesomeness.


Honourable Mention: Lorne Sossin

Nickname: The Soss-boss

Term: 2010–present

“Look to your left, look to your right, you’ll be best friends forever!”

It would be unfair to rank the current dean while his term is still ongoing, so he’s being placed in the honourable mention category. A wizard of administrative law, the affable and well-liked Dean Sossin has worked hard to foster the image of Osgoode as a friendly place. Some of his accomplishments so far have been to expand the school’s international connections, the appointment of a wellness and health coordinator, and the creation of the artist-in-residence program.

That said, Dean Sossin also faces a number of challenges: high tuition and corresponding debt levels, and the availability of articling positions, to name a few. With a full term ahead of him, Dean Sossin has lots of time to cement his place in Osgoode dean history, perhaps taking a few lessons from his predecessors.

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