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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Praise for Philip Girard from Constance Backhouse

Constance Backhouse wrote me this morning asking me to circulate this. I am thrilled that although I had to miss Philip giving his speech in Denver, the legal history group has the written version, and Philip will be presenting it to us on Wednesday.

From Constance:

Hi Mary,
I am at the American Society for Legal History’s annual meeting in Denver.  I wanted to share with you, and with the Canadian legal history folks, the news about the wonderful “Plenary” speech last night.  The top spot on the program is reserved every year for one of the giants of legal history.  All of the conference goers, even the ones who typically do not attend the sessions, show up and listen intently.  It is considered the marking of a rite of passage.

Last night, Philip Girard was the honoured speaker.  His lecture was titled “Disorienting: Towards a Legal History of North America.”  

Doug Hay and Rosalie Abella have given wonderful speeches at ASLH plenaries some years back when the ASLH met in Canada.  This was the first time that a Canadian had ever been selected to speak at a meeting in the US, and the new ASLH President, Michael Grossberg, made a point of stressing that “you don’t need to be in Canada to learn about Canadian legal history.”

Philip was simply outstanding.  All of us have heard him give awesome presentations in the past, but last night he hit a pinnacle that is rarely met.  He was brilliant, erudite, witty, thoughtful, and wise.  He was terribly funny.  He presented ideas that few people in the audience had considered before, and he did so in a way that was accessible and riveting.  It’s something we all know already about Philip’s talents.  But there was something about watching him display his incredible range and depth, in this venue, that was extraordinary.  And he opened by stressing that Canadian legal history thrives because it is a collective, a community that shares, is supportive of its participants, and builds on our collectively diverse research and knowledge.  


It was a proud moment to be a Canadian legal historian.  I wish you had all been there to hear it.  It was simply wonderful.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tunnicliffe, "Canada and the Human Rights Framework: Historiographical Trends"

In the latest issue of the online journal History Compass, Jennifer Tunnicliffe has an article on the historigraphy of human rights in Canada, "Canada and the Human Rights Framework: Historiographical Trends"

Here's the abstract:

This article examines trends in Canadian human rights history, with a focus on three major themes that have guided the scholarship: challenges to the characterization of Canada as a historically tolerant nation; a study of how, when, and through what mechanisms human rights became an important project for Canadians; and a critical assessment of the historical effectiveness of the human rights movement in promoting equality within Canadian society. In assessing where this vibrant and growing field of study could expand in the future, the article also contextualizes the Canadian historiography in the international literature on the development of the global human rights framework.

Osgoode Society 2014 Books launched...

Yesterday at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.

Our 2014 books are:

  • The Court of Appeal for Ontario: Defining the Right of Appeal, 1792-2013, by Christopher Moore
  • Equality Deferred: Sex Discrimination and British Columbia’s Human Rights State, 1953-84, by Dominique Clément
  • Petty Justice: Low Law and the Sessions System in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, 1785-1867, by Paul Craven
  • Ruin and Redemption: The Struggle for a Canadian Bankruptcy Law, 1867-1919, by Thomas Telfer

And they're all great. (Yes, I'm biased, but it's true. I haven't read every page of each of them yet, but I've been very impressed with what I've seen.)

To join the Osgoode Society and get the members' book for this year, Chris Moore's The Court of Appeal for Ontario, (included in the membership fee,) or to inquire about purchasing one or more of the others, please visit the Society website.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

 New from UBC Press: Paths to the Bench: The Judicial Appointment Process in Manitoba, 1870-1950 by Dale Brawn of Laurentian University.


A lawyer wanting to become a judge in early 20th-century Manitoba could attract the attention of his peers through his work -- but it was a friendship with a powerful mentor that got him to the bench. 

In Paths to the Bench, Dale Brawn looks at the appointments and careers of early judges who were charged with laying the legal foundations of a province. With much at stake, judicial appointments were as much about personal ties and politics as they were about ability. Beliefs were scrutinized to ensure that they would not impede the province’s, and the nation’s, growth, while ongoing mentorships ensured that these beliefs were cultivated through shared kinship groups. 

By looking at both official records and correspondence from this era, Brawn uncovers the highly political nature of the judicial appointment process and the intricate bonds that ensured that judges acquired the values not of their society, but of their fellowship groups. His in-depth analysis also examines the distinct career trajectories of less competent and more competent lawyers and considers why many of the best and brightest members of the bar did not go to the bench. 

A fascinating look at the careers of practical, hard-headed, and extraordinarily influential judges, Paths to the Bench is also an incisive study of the political nature of Canada’s judicial appointment process.


Hat tip: Doug Harris via Twitter

Friday, October 31, 2014

New from UTP/Osgoode Society, The Court of Appeal for Ontario: Defining the Right of Appeal, 1792-2013 by Christopher Moore


The Court of Appeal for Ontario: Defining the Right of Appeal in Canada, 1792-2013
New from the Osgoode Society and the University of Toronto Press, The Court of Appeal for Ontario: Defining the Right of Appeal, 1792-2013 by Christopher Moore.

This is the "members' book" for 2014--free to Osgoode Society members. It's not too late to become a a member: cost for ordinary members is $50, for students $21.50.

Join today, have your copy delivered (free of charge) and come to the launch of this and our optional books on November 4th at Osgoode Hall!

The U of T Press says:

In Christopher Moore’s lively and engaging history of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, he traces the evolution of one of Canada’s most influential courts from its origins as a branch of the lieutenant governor’s executive council to the post-Charter years of cutting-edge jurisprudence and national influence.
Discussing the issues, personalities, and politics which have shaped Ontario’s highest court,The Court of Appeal for Ontario offers appreciations of key figures in Canada’s legal and political history – including John Beverly Robinson, Oliver Mowat, Bora Laskin, and Bertha Wilson – and a serious examination of what the right of appeal means and how it has been interpreted by Canadians over the last two hundred years. The first comprehensive history of the Ontario Court of Appeal, Moore’s book is the definitive and eminently readable account of the court that has been called everything from a bulwark against tyranny to murderer’s row.


And the Osgoode Society says: 

Before 1850 the Court of Appeal for Ontario was the Governor’s Executive Council. In 1850 the Court of Error and Appeal for Canada West met for the first time, the first appeal court for what is now Ontario that was both independent of the Executive Council and staffed only by professional judges. Christopher Moore’s study of the modern court’s history begins with these early courts, and provides an account of more than 200 years of the court’s institutional history. It charts the various and at times complex reorganisations, and identifies landmark events, such as the creation of the modern court in 1876 and the opening up of criminal appeals in the late nineteenth century. This is also partly a biographical history, identifying dominant figures, especially Chief Justices, in the court’s development. Along the way the book looks at the court’s workload, its internal administration, relations with the bar, and connections to the politics of the province.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

New from UTP/Osgoode Society: Ruin and Redemption: The Struggle for a Canadian Bankruptcy Law, 1867-1919, by Thomas Telfer


The latest Osgoode Society book is Ruin and Redemption: The Struggle for a Canadian Bankruptcy Law, 1867-1919, by Thomas Telfer of the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario.

Says the Osgoode Society:

Professor Telfer’s deeply researched book shows that between Confederation and 1919, when the federal parliament passed the Bankruptcy Act that remains the basis of the current law, Canadians debated insolvency law with a perhaps surprising amount of passion. The discharge raised deep issues of commercial morality, while arguments about priorities pitted local against regional and national interests. Federalism complicated the story, as it often does in Canadian legal history, as the federal parliament abandoned its jurisdiction over bankruptcy for decades.

Says the U of T Press:

In 1880 the federal Parliament of Canada repealed the Insolvent Act of 1875, leaving debtor-creditor matters to be regulated by the provinces. Almost forty years later, Parliament finally passed new bankruptcy legislation, recognizing that what was once considered a moral evil had become a commercial necessity. In Ruin and Redemption, Thomas GW Telfer analyses the ideas, interests, and institutions that shaped the evolution of Canadian bankruptcy law in this era. Examining the vigorous public debates over the idea of bankruptcy, Telfer argues that the law was shaped by conflict over the morality of release from debts and by the divergence of interests between local and distant creditors. Ruin and Redemption is the first full-length study of the origins of Canadian bankruptcy law, thus making it an important contribution to the study of Canada’s commercial law.