Remembering Joseph Arvay

The David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights joins the constitutional law community in mourning the death of Joseph Arvay, O.C., O.B.C., Q.C. Joe Arvay offered his time to the Centre as our first constitutional litigator in residence. Indeed he was the inspiration for the continuing role that has been incorporated into our teaching and advocacy. He gave generously of his time to the students and was an important supporter of our advocacy. Of his time with us, Joe said, “I really enjoyed my experience as the first constitutional litigator in residence at the Asper Centre. It was a joy to work with students again.”

Marcus McCann (JD 2014) was one of the students who worked with Joe on the Asper Centre’s intervention in Bedford v Canada on the role of stare decisis in constitutional litigation: “It was a great pleasure to see Joe’s mind at work. He was very tactical, always five steps ahead in the conversation. That should be obvious from his career. But at the same time, he never lost sight of the goal, of the people who would be helped by litigation. He litigated with heart, even when he was litigating a seemingly bloodless topic like stare decisis.”

At the Centre’s 10th Anniversary Event, Joe joined Mary Eberts, another constitutional litigator in residence, on stage in a discussion with the Hon. Thomas Cromwell on significant issues in constitutional litigation in Canada. The topics were wide ranging with two formidable leaders of the constitutional bar and the former Supreme Court of Canada Justice, from the seminal cases in which they both participated in Andrews v British Columbia, to significant aboriginal rights cases, to the more recent Carter v Canada. Executive Director, Cheryl Milne, noted, “There is no other lawyer in Canada who has litigated as many significant constitutional cases at all levels of Court as Joe. His stamp on constitutional law in this country is monumental. While many lawyers have regularly taken on interventions at the Supreme Court, Joe made it a point to litigate these cases at the trial level.” As he himself noted in reference to his cases involving advanced costs, “We can all do pro bono work as interveners, but try starting a case like Little Sisters, try starting a case like Carter, try starting any of these cases, which involve thousands of hours of work. It would be so much more encouraging for lawyers if they could get costs in advance.”

Professor Kent Roach, the chair of the Asper Centre’s advisory board worked with Joe on number of cases, some focusing on aboriginal rights. He says, with sadness, “Joe was fearless and his intellectual curiosity knew no bounds. His advocacy shaped the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and always in the direction of helping the disadvantaged. He also knew how to have fun and never took himself too seriously. He will be sorely missed.”

Meet Nader Hasan, the Asper Centre’s New Constitutional Litigator-in-Residence

By Amy Chen

Nader Hasan, a partner at Stockwoods LLP and one of Canada’s leading appellate lawyers, will be co-teaching the Asper Centre’s clinic course this fall as the constitutional litigator-in-residence. He graciously sat down with me to discuss his legal education, career history, and hopes for the upcoming term.

Mr. Hasan has a long and varied career in criminal, constitutional, and regulatory law. Surprisingly, law school was not always the plan. “Like many children of immigrants, there was the expectation and hope that I would eventually become a doctor,” Mr. Hasan said. However, “along the way, I became really passionate about various social justice and human rights issues, both in the US, Canada, and around the world. That sparked my intellectual interest in the law.” His interest in the law was cemented after completing his undergraduate degree at Harvard in international human rights, as well as his Masters of Philosophy in international studies at Cambridge. Ultimately, he decided to begin his law career at the University of Toronto.

Mr. Hasan’s interest in constitutional law began in Professor Lorraine Weinrib’s constitutional law small group: “I learned about the power of the Charter, and how, if done properly and effectively, a constitutionally entrenched bill of rights could truly be a weapon on the side of good and justice… I knew early on in law school that I was very passionate about constitutional law, public law, and criminal law.” However, when considering heavy debt load and his need to care for his aging parents, Mr. Hasan began his career in a corporate firm in New York. Although Mr. Hasan was doing a lot of pro bono work on behalf of asylum seekers and the wrongfully convicted, he was only able to work on it in “from 10 pm to 3 am” after billing his normal hours. Still, he considered this a crucial step in his career: “in many ways it was a typical “Big Law” experience, but through this process I was able to learn a lot about what it meant to be a good lawyer, as well as the types of careers open to lawyers.”

Eventually, he returned to Canada to pursue a criminal/constitutional law career. Since then, Mr. Hasan has appeared as counsel in a number of high-profile constitutional law cases, including acting as lead counsel to the landmark Indigenous rights case Clyde River v. Petroleum Geo‑Services Inc. Most of the major cases he was involved in had humble beginnings: “these cases that end up at the Supreme Court of Canada, you don’t get there without a very carefully constructed record from the ground up, by interviewing people and doing your legal research. It is not glamorous, but all meaningful, with an important end goal in sight.” Right now, Mr. Hasan is working as lead counsel in Mathur et al v. HMQ, a constitutional challenge against Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions targets. His rationale for working on this case was simple: “as a human being living in this day and age, we all have an obligation to move hearts and minds when it comes to climate change. I happen to be trained as a constitutional lawyer, and the way I know how to make a difference is constitutional litigation.”

At the Asper Centre this fall, Mr. Hasan will bring with him not just his significant constitutional litigation experiences, but also his extensive teaching and mentorship experiences. He has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto law faculty since 2010, teaching the popular Crime and Punishment course and the criminal appellate externship. He hopes to nurture the passions that Asper Centre clinic students have for constitutional law: “I’m sure students have been told that you can’t make money in constitutional law, but if this is something you want to do, there are certainly avenues to pursue a constitutional law career.” He will illustrate these avenues by sharing his own experiences alongside the experiences of Asper Centre director Cheryl Milne and other guest speakers. Although this year’s clinic course will be unique, given that some students will be attending remotely, Mr. Hasan is optimistic that the course will proceed smoothly.

To end the interview, I asked Mr. Hasan what he believes to be the qualities that make a good constitutional lawyer. He did not hesitate in giving his answer – “it’s all about hard work and passion.” A strong case is comprised of dedicated people who are “willing to work whatever hours it takes with an unyielding attitude, knowing that they are fighting on the side of justice.”

The interview has been edited for clarity.

Amy (Jun) Chen is a 1L JD Candidate at the Faculty of Law and is the Asper Centre’s current summer Research Assistant.

Clinic Information Session

This information session, for University of Toronto Faculty of Law upper year students, will provide details on how to enroll in the for-credit clinical programs at the faculty including the Asper Centre Constitutional Rights Clinic, Downtown Legal Services, the International Human Rights Program Clinic and the Investor Protection Clinic.

The following Directors will present at the information session and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Cheryl Milne, Asper Centre

Lisa Cirillo, Downtown Legal Services

Petra Molnar, International Human Rights Program

Ivy Lam, Investor Protection Clinic

Students, please check the internal events calendar listing through E-legal for the webinar link. THANKS!

 

 

Ontario Court of Appeal Rules G20 Protester’s Rights Violated by Police

 

Ten years after Toronto hosted the G20 summit, a civil suit launched against the Toronto police has finally been resolved by the Ontario Court of Appeal. The decision—Stewart v. Toronto (Police Services Board)—represents a strong affirmation of the constitutional right to protest, especially in public spaces like parks.

The case arose out of the G20 summit held in Toronto in 2010. A group of activists had organized a public rally in Allan Gardens, a public park in downtown Toronto. Based on vague reports of potential violence by “Black Bloc” protesters, the police set up an indiscriminate perimeter around the park the day before the rally and required all those wishing to participate in the protest to submit to a search of their personal belongings. The police also seized items that they believed could be used to defeat the effects of tear gas and pepper spray, such as goggles, bandanas, and vinegar.

The police stopped the appellant, Luke Stewart, and told him they were searching all protesters under the authority of the Trespass to Property Act. Mr. Stewart refused to consent to the search, believing it to be unconstitutional. When he attempted to move past the police perimeter, he was forcibly detained. The police then searched his bag and confiscated a pair of swimming goggles.

Mr. Stewart brought a lawsuit against the police in 2011, seeking Charter damages for violation of his freedom of expression, right not to be arbitrarily detained, and right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. The Superior Court dismissed his claim in 2018, ruling that the police had the requisite search powers and did not infringe any of his constitutional rights.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) intervened in this case at both the trial level and at the appeal, arguing for limits on the power of police to interfere with the rights of protesters.

Winston Gee headshot

Winston Gee

Winston Gee, an associate at Torys LLP and former Asper Centre Clinic student, presented the CCLA’s submissions at the hearing of the appeal.

In reasons written by Justice Brown, the Court of Appeal agreed with the CCLA that the police had no legal authority for their actions. It overturned each of the trial judge’s rulings and awarded Mr. Stewart $500 in Charter damages. The Court also affirmed the fundamental importance of free political expression, especially in public parks:

“Our civil liberties tradition recognizes that public parks, such as Allan Gardens, are civic spaces naturally compatible with the public expression of views, whether the content of those views support or dissent from the popular sentiments of the day… The freedom to engage in the peaceful public expression of political views is central to our conception of a free and democratic society. Freedom of expression requires zealous protection.”

Despite the low damages award, Gee was pleased that “the Court accepted one of our central submissions at the hearing—that the Trespass to Property Act does not create any substantive property rights but is merely a mechanism to enforce existing rights that come from other sources, such as the common law.” As a result, the Act could not be used by the police to impose “conditions of entry” of their choosing. That power properly belonged to the City as the common law owner and occupier of the park—and it is subject always to the Charter.

Gee said that his work on this case “benefitted immensely from my time at the Asper Centre. That’s where I first gained experience with appellate advocacy, including by learning from leading constitutional litigators like Mary Eberts and Marlys Edwardh. I also had the opportunity to assist with the Asper Centre’s intervention in Henry v. British Columbia (Attorney General), one of the Supreme Court’s leading cases on Charter damages. That experience was particularly relevant to this case.”

Gee also thanked his colleagues at Torys for providing excellent mentorship and for giving him the opportunity to argue such an important case.

by T. Schreier, with Winston Gee (JD/MPP UTLaw 2017)

Constitutional Litigator-in-Residence for 2020

Nader Hasan has been selected as the Asper Centre Constitutional-Litigator-in-Residence for Fall 2020.

Nader’s wealth of constitutional litigation experience in areas ranging from search and seizure law to digital privacy law to protecting civil liberties, as well as his vast teaching experience will greatly enrich the Asper Centre’s Clinic students next term.

Nader is a partner at Stockwood Barristers in Toronto. He practises criminal, regulatory and constitutional law at the trial and appellate levels. He has an expertise in digital privacy law and search and seizure law, and has appeared in many of the leading cases in this area.

Nader has been recognized by Best Lawyers magazine as one of Canada’s leading appellate lawyers.  He has appeared in 20 cases at the Supreme Court of Canada, including as lead counsel to the successful appellants in Clyde River v. Petroleum Geo‑Services Inc., 2017 SCC 40, a landmark Indigenous rights decision.

Nader is a veteran Adjunct Professor of law at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, where he has taught the Law of Evidence and currently teaches a popular class on crime and punishment. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights. He is a co-author of Sentencing, 9th edition (LexisNexis, 2017), a co-author and co-editor of Digital Privacy: Criminal, Civil and Regulatory Litigation (LexisNexis, 2018), a co-author of a forthcoming book on Search and Seizure (Emond Publishing), and author of numerous articles on criminal and constitutional law.

Nader brings a cross-border perspective to his practice. He previously practised with a leading litigation firm in New York, appearing in both New York State and U.S. federal courts.  Today, he regularly advises Canadian citizens in relation to criminal and regulatory issues with a multi-jurisdictional dimension, and regularly advises Canadians detained abroad.

Nader acts regularly for clients seeking to vindicate their constitutional rights in high-profile cases.  He has acted for the wrongfully convicted and asylum seekers.  He acts for Indigenous groups and environmental NGOs in environmental and constitutional cases.  He also acts for civil liberties groups, including the Criminal Lawyers’ Association (CLA), the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights.

Nader is a graduate of Harvard University (B.A.), the University of Cambridge (M.Phil), and the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law (J.D.).  Upon graduation from law school, Nader clerked for the Honourable Marshall Rothstein of the Supreme Court of Canada.

View the Asper Centre’s past Constitutional Litigators-in-Residence HERE.