Asper Centre intervenes in Mathur et al v His Majesty the King in Right of Ontario

On January 15, 2024, the Asper Centre will be intervening in the case of Mathur et al v His Majesty the King in Right of Ontario at the Ontario Court of Appeal, generously represented by our counsel and recent Constitutional Litigator in Residence Ewa Krajewska of Henein Hutchison Robitaille LLP.

This case, which commenced in 2019, involves a Charter challenge to the Ontario government’s legislative response to climate change, more specifically its adoption of weaker greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets with the passing of the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018, S.O. 2018, c. 13. It is the first Charter challenge in Ontario against government actions taken related to climate change to reach a full hearing on its merits.

The Appellants are a group of 7 youth climate justice activists and their guardians, who assert that the dangers and existential risks posed by climate change violate the Section 7 and 15 Charter rights of Ontario youth and future generations.

Although the court at first instance found that the issues in the application were justiciable, it decided that the appellants had not established any violation of Charter sections 7 or 15.  

The Asper Centre is intervening on two issues in this appeal: the proper interpretation and application of the causation requirement in s. 15(1) of the Charter, and how the remedies available under s. 24(1) of the Charter can meaningfully vindicate the rights and freedoms of vulnerable claimant groups.

You can read our factum at the ONCA appeal here. The Asper Centre previously intervened in this case at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. You can find our factum in that court here.

Asper Centre Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Jutta Brunnée, Faculty of Law Dean, University Professor and James Marshall Tory Dean’s Chair in conversation with
Asper Centre Executive Director Cheryl Milne

The David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights celebrated 15 years at their special anniversary event on November 15, 2023.

Located within the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, the Centre and is devoted to advocacy, research, and education around constitutional rights in Canada.

With the establishment of the Asper Centre, made possible through the generous benefaction of Faculty of Law alumnus David Asper (LLM 2007), U of T is one of only a small number of schools internationally that play active roles in constitutional debates with practical impacts on constitutional rights. In addition to its innovative programs, the Centre houses a legal clinic that brings together students, faculty members, and members of the legal profession to work on significant, ground-breaking constitutional cases.

Since 2008, the centre has:

  • Led 38 Supreme Court of Canada interventions
  • Held 54 constitutional roundtables and 13 conferences/symposia
  • Supported 45 student working groups
  • Hosted 11 Constitutional Litigators-in-Residence
  • Released 37 publications

At the in-person live podcast recording of Charter: A Course (Season 3), Dean Jutta Brunnée interviewed the Asper Centre’s Executive Director, Cheryl Milne, who has been with the Centre since its inception.


Constitutional Litigator-in-ResidenceEwa Krajewska (photo far left) interviewed Asper Centre Clinic alumni (photo second from left to right): Keely Kinley (JD 2021), Ryan Deshpande (JD 2021)Geetha Philipupillai (JD 2017), and Neil Abraham (JD 2016).

This event celebrated the Asper Centre’s commitment to articulating Canada’s constitutional vision to the broader world.

Special thanks to the evening’s participants and to all who attended!

Asper Centre 2022-2023 Annual Report

Watch the Charter @ 40: The Asper Centre brought together its past Constitutional Litigators-in-Residence for a special conversation with Executive Director, Cheryl Milne, reflecting on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at 40 years.

From U of T Law website at

Meet Ewa Krajewska, our new Constitutional Litigator in Residence

by Emma Davies

Ewa Krajewska, a civil litigator and partner at Henein Hutchison Robitaille LLP, is co-teaching the Asper Centre’s clinic course as the 2023 Constitutional Litigator in Residence. Over the summer, I sat down with Ms. Krajewska to discuss both her career to date and her new role.

Even prior to law school, Ms. Krajewska enjoyed studying subjects like economics and politics because they were oriented toward making systemic change. She similarly became interested in practicing constitutional law during her clerkship with former Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella. As she explained, “I’ve always been interested in constitutional law from the perspective of how we organize the relationship between a country’s citizens and government to ensure that a democracy properly protects its minorities.” She cemented this interest as an associate at a national law firm, where she represented a number of institutional clients and public bodies.

Ms. Krajewska’s career in litigation has also allowed her to become a life-long learner. “Every case is a window into a universe that you would not normally know about. It’s like one of those very deep and focused New Yorker articles on some obscure topic.” Her past cases have allowed her to learn about everything from liver transplants to the relative value of buildings in downtown Toronto. In her view, litigation is the perfect career for anyone who is curious not just about the law, but about the world in general.

When asked about cases from her career, Ms. Krajewska highlighted two as particularly memorable: a judicial review application regarding the Chief Electoral Officer, and a challenge to the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act in 2022. The former was expedited because of the election schedule, meaning that she had the rare opportunity to litigate a case from start to finish in just six weeks. The latter case was equally unique in that it involved a government Act that is almost never invoked and delved into issues like how Cabinet confidences should be treated in extraordinary circumstances. As she explained, “it’s a lot of fun to litigate these hard, new, complex issues and propose to the court the right way of interpreting the factual record.”

Looking ahead to her new role, Ms. Krajewska spoke about her love of teaching. As part of the clinic course, she particularly wants to show students the importance of marshalling the factual record to help achieve desired constitutional outcomes. I also asked Ms. Krajewska what advice she would give to current law students: “I think sometimes we’re dissuaded from taking classes in areas of law that we’re less interested in, but there’s something to be said for taking classes from excellent teachers.” Some of her favourite classes from law school had nothing to do with constitutional litigation, and yet she still relies on the skills she learned from those classes to this day. As she put it, “it’s important to give yourself the permission to have some fun, and to take the classes that may not have been on your radar.”

This interview has been edited for clarity

Emma Davies is a 2L student at the Faculty of Law and was an Asper Centre Summer Research Assistant in 2023

Constitutional Litigator in Residence for 2023

We are pleased to announce that Ewa Krajewska has been selected as the Asper Centre’s Constitutional Litigator in Residence for Fall 2023.

Ewa will be co-teaching the Asper Centre’s Clinic Course in the Fall 2023 term with our Executive Director, Cheryl Milne. This course offers upper year law students at the University of Toronto the unique opportunity to engage in Charter rights advocacy, including Charter litigation. Ewa will bring her extensive constitutional litigation experience to the role and will greatly enrich the Asper Centre’s Clinic students next term. Amongst other projects, Ewa will work with students on the Asper Centre’s intervention in the Mathur climate justice case at the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Ewa Krajewska, B.A. (McGill) 2004, LL.B. BCL (2008), was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2009. She has practiced civil litigation for 14 years, specializing in public and constitutional law. She practiced at a large national firm for 12 years before joining Henein Hutchison Robitaille LLP in January of 2022. She was counsel to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association on the Public Order Emergency Commission. She has appeared at all levels of court including at the Supreme Court of Canada on important constitutional and estates matters.

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

Constitutional Litigator in Residence for 2022

Jessica Orkin has been selected as the Asper Centre Constitutional-Litigator-in-Residence for Fall 2022.

Jessica Orkin is a partner at Goldblatt Partners LLP in Toronto and leads the firm’s Aboriginal law practice. She has a broad litigation practice including criminal, civil and administrative law matters, with an emphasis on constitutional, Aboriginal rights and access to information law matters.

In her Aboriginal law practice, Jessica provides legal and strategic advice and advocacy to Indigenous governments, communities, organizations and individuals to advance and protect their rights and interests in interactions with governments, industry, the justice system and civil society. Her practice includes complex Aboriginal title, Aboriginal rights and treaty rights litigation; environmental assessment and regulatory processes relating to mining, infrastructure and energy projects; environmental stewardship and natural resource management, including negotiations with industry proponents; and advice on the constitutional duty to consult and accommodate. Jessica has particular expertise in relation to expressive and protest rights, including those of Indigenous individuals in the context of land and resource disputes. She also has a particular interest in systemic issues relating to the overrepresentation of Indigenous individuals within the criminal justice and carceral systems.

Jessica appears at all levels of court, including the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada. She has been recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada in the categories of Aboriginal law and Administrative & Public Law, and by Lexpert in the category of Aboriginal law.

Jessica received her law degree from the University of Toronto. She also holds an M.Phil. degree in Development Studies from the University of Oxford, and a bachelor of arts and sciences from McMaster University. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 2006, after clerking at the Federal Court of Appeal.

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