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U of T Law Faculty Members Comment on the Polygamy Reference

January 17, 2012 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

The British Columbia Supreme Court released its decision in the Ref. Re. S.293 of the Criminal Code of Canada (Polygamy Reference) on November 23rd. With a length of over 280 pages, the case provides the most comprehensive judical record on the subject of polygamy ever produced. Legal arguments were presented by the Attorney General of British Columbia, the Attorney General of Canada and an Amicus Curiae appointed for the reference, along with 13 interested persons, including the David Asper Centre.

A number of academics from the Faculty of Law will weigh in on the decision, offering diverse perspectives on the constitutional arguments, international law, procedures and evidenciary issues in the case. Confirmed speakers include the following:

Brenda Cossman joined the Faculty of Law in 1999, and became a full professor in 2000. She holds degrees in law from Harvard and the University of Toronto, and an undergraduate degree from Queen’s. In 2002 and 2003, she was a Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Prior to joining the University of Toronto, she was Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. Professor Cossman’s teaching and scholarly interests include family law, law and sexuality, and freedom of expression. Her most recent book Sexual Citizens: The Legal and Cultural Regulation of Sex and Belonging was published by Stanford University Press in 2007. Her publications include the co-authored Bad Attitudes on Trial: Pornography, Feminism and the Butler Decision (University of Toronto Press) and Censorship and the Arts (published by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries).

Mohammad Fadel is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, which he joined in January 2006. He received his B.A. in Government and Foreign Affairs (1988), a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago (1995) and his J.D. from the University of Virginia (1999). While at the University of Virginia School of Law, Professor Fadel was a John M. Olin Law and Economics Scholar and Articles Development Editor of the Virginia Law Review. Prior to law school, Professor Fadel completed his Ph.D in Chicago, where he wrote his dissertation on legal process in medieval Islamic law. Professor Fadel was an expert witness in the Reference.

Hamish Stewart joined the Faculty of Law in 1993 and is now a Professor of Law at the University of Toronto. Before attending law school, he studied economics (B.A., University of Toronto, 1983; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1989) and taught for a year in the economics department at Williams College. He received an LL.B. degree from the University of Toronto in 1992, clerked at the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1992-93, and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1998. Professor Stewart teaches criminal law and the law of evidence, and has published numerous papers in these areas as well as papers on the law of contract, legal theory, and economic methodology. He is the general editor of Evidence: A Canadian Casebook, 2d ed. (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2006), an associate editor of the Dominion Law Reports and Canadian Criminal Cases, and book review editor of the University of Toronto Law Journal.

Lorraine E. Weinrib was appointed to the Faculty of Law and the Department of Political Science in 1988. Previously, she worked in the Crown Law Office – Civil, Ministry of the Attorney General (Ontario), holding the position of Deputy Director of Constitutional Law and Policy at the time of her departure. Her work included legal advice and policy development on constitutional issues, as well as extensive litigation, frequently in the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1993, Professor Weinrib was Visiting Professor (Fulbright Fellowship) at the University of Michigan Law School; in 1994 at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Halbert Academic Exchange); and in 2001 and 2002 at the Tel Aviv Faculty of Law. She holds law degrees from Yale and Toronto, and an undergraduate degree from York University. Professor Weinrib teaches the first year constitutional law course as well as advanced courses on the Charter, constitutional litigation, and comparative constitutional law. Her writing, in which she advocates the institutional coherence of the Charter, includes articles on the interpretation of sections 1 and 33, the theoretical dimension of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Charter jurisprudence, the process leading up to the 1982 amendments to the Constitution, and studies of leading cases, e.g., Morgentaler (abortion), Ford (override), Keegstra (hate promotion) and Rodriguez (assisted suicide). She has also written on the topic of women in the legal profession.

Carol Rogerson is a professor at the Faculty of Law, where she began teaching in 1983. She served as Associate Dean of the Faculty from 1991 to 1993. She holds degrees in law from Harvard and Toronto, a master’s degree in English from Toronto, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Alberta. Professor Rogerson’s teaching and research interests encompass constitutional and family law. She is editor of Competing Visions of Constitutionalism: The Meech Lake Accord (with K. Swinton) and one of the co-authors of Canadian Constitutional Law. She is also the author of numerous law review articles in both the constitutional and family law areas and has frequently worked with governments on issues of family law reform. In 1985 she was honoured with a University of Toronto Teaching Award.

Rebecca Cook, A.B. (Barnard), M.A. (Tufts), M.P.A. (Harvard), J.D. (Georgetown), LL.M. (Columbia), J.S.D. (Columbia), called to the Bar of Washington, D.C., is Professor and Faculty Chair in International Human Rights, and Co-Director of the International Programme on Reproductive and Sexual Health Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. She also holds positions in the Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto. She is ethical and legal issues co-editor of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and serves on the editorial advisory boards of Human Rights Quarterly and Reproductive Health Matters. She has written with B.M. Dickens and M.F. Fathalla, Reproductive Health and Human Rights: Integrating Medicine, Ethics and Law (Oxford, 2003) (translated into Chinese, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, case studies translated into Arabic). She is also the author of Gender Stereotyping: Transnational Legal Perspectives, with Simone Cusack, published by University of Pennsylvania Press in 2009. She was an expert witness in the Polygamy Reference.

David Schneiderman, B.A (McGill) 1980, LL.B. (Windsor) 1983, LL.M. (Queen’s) 1993, is Professor of Law and Political Science. He was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1984 where he practised law and then served as Research Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in Toronto from 1986-89. He was Executive Director of the Centre for Constitutional Studies, an interdisciplinary research institute, at the University of Alberta from 1989-99. Professor Schneiderman has authored numerous articles on Canadian federalism, the Charter of Rights, Canadian constitutional history, and constitutionalism and globalization. He has authored Constitutionalizing Economic Globalization: Investment Rules and Democracy’s Promise (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and co-authored The Last Word: Media Coverage of the Supreme Court of Canada with Florian Sauvageau and David Taras (UBC Press, 2006).

Moderator: Cheryl Milne, Executive Director of the Asper Centre, was called to the Ontario Bar in 1987 and completed an MSW at the University of Toronto in 1991. Prior to coming to the Centre, Ms Milne was a legal advocate for children with the legal clinic Justice for Children and Youth. There she led the clinic’s Charter litigation including the challenge to the corporal punishment defence in the Criminal Code [Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v Canada (2004)], the striking down of the reverse onus sections of the Youth Criminal Justice Act for adult sentencing [R v D.B. (2008)], and an intervention involving the right of a capable adolescent to consent to her own medical treatment [A.C. v Manitoba Child and Family Services (2009)]. She has represented the Asper Centre in R v Conway and most recently in the Polygamy Reference case. She is the Past Chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s Constitutional, Civil Liberties and Human Rights section and teaches a clinical course in constitutional advocacy at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, and Social Work & the Law at Ryerson University. Ms Milne is also the director of the combined JD and MSW program at the Faculty of Law.

Event date: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
Location: Bennett Lecture Hall, Flavelle House, Faculty of Law


January 17, 2012
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm