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Asper Centre Student Working Group Information Session

September 12, 2023 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Attention U of T Law Students!

JD students in all years can volunteer with one of the Asper Centre student working groups, that are led by upper year law students. Working groups prepare policy briefs, organize workshops, and conduct research on current or emerging constitutional issues.

Find out more about these working groups at the Asper Centre & IHRP (International Human Rights Program) Student Working Group Information Session on Tuesday September 12, 2023 at 12:30PM in the Moot Courtroom, J250.

To learn more about the process to join one of these working groups, read the 2023 Public Interest Programs’ Volunteer Recruitment Guide.

This year, the Asper Centre is convening and supporting the following working groups:

Bail Reform

This working group will be drafting a submission to Parliament about the constitutionality of Bill C-48 An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Bail Reform). The Bill has added and strengthened reverse onus provisions in the Criminal Code whereby some classes of accused would be required to show why they should be granted bail rather than the prosecution showing why the accused must be held in detention. Amongst these amendments to the Criminal Code is a change to s.515(6)(b.1). This change is designed to “broaden the existing reverse onus regime for victims of intimate partner violence (IPV)”. The working group’s submissions will focus on whether the Bill properly addresses the enhanced risks posed by intimate partner violence (IPV) in relation to section 11(e) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Climate Justice  

This working group is a continuation of the previous year’s working group that identified a need for accessible information to help ensure that governments are doing all they should to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and to give communities the practical legal and advocacy tools to help hold governments to account. The group is drafting a Know Your Environmental Rights guidebook that will cover the various sources of environmental rights in Ontario, the relevant Canadian caselaw, and the legal mechanisms available for people who want to advocate for action on climate change. The guidebook will also comprehensively map out the tools available to those concerned about climate change for exercising their environmental common law, statutory, and constitutional rights and pursuing legal remedies.

Indigenous Child Welfare & Self-Government

Over the past few years, both Canadian and American courts have decided cases that effect how Indigenous Nations are able to care for Indigenous children. Both countries have histories and present realities of removing Indigenous children from Indigenous homes, thereby jeopardizing the safety of Indigenous children and undermining Indigenous Nations’ sovereignty and governance. With this context in mind, the recent Supreme Court of the United States Haaland v Brackeen decision, and the upcoming Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) Attorney General of Québec, et al. v. Attorney General of Canada, et al decision are of paramount importance to Indigenous futurity and safety. Both cases address federal legislation introduced to address the historical and present harms caused by the apprehension of Indigenous children by settler governments. In both countries, these decisions also demonstrate how child welfare is closely connected to Indigenous assertions of and rights to self-government. The working group will study the cases and convene a workshop and podcast episode for the law school community about the issues arising from these cases, in particular the Quebec Reference case and its meaning for Indigenous rights and the interpretation of Section 35 of the Constitution of Canada.

Responding to 2SLGBTQI+ Hate

This working group focuses on the intersection of hate, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly issues of 2SLGBTQI individuals, who are increasingly targeted by hate. While legal protections exist, they are often inaccessible to those without a strong understanding of the legal system.  A significant trend over several years has been to use defamation lawsuits to silence those speaking out against homophobic or transphobic rhetoric. Many Canadian jurisdictions have passed anti-SLAPP legislation, which provides a preliminary basis for dismissing a lawsuit deemed to be a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” (SLAPP).  This working group is partnering with EGALE (Canada’s leading 2SLGBTQI charity, which has taken active involvement in a variety of public interest litigation in service of the queer community in Canada) to make recent court decisions based on this anti-SLAPP legislation more accessible to local 2SLGBTQI+ organizations and activists by developing a toolkit and delivering a training workshop that explains the anti-SLAPP protections.

Find out more about these working groups at the Asper Centre & IHRP (International Human Rights Program) Student Working Group Information Session on Tuesday September 12, 2023 at 12:30PM in the Moot Courtroom, J250.





September 12, 2023
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm


J250 Jackman Law Building Moot Court