Legal ReformThe Barbra Schlifer Clinic is a resource on legal issues relevant to victims of violence.
Legal reform are words that hold specific protections in law but are equally contested in law. Law and the courts are where everything needs to be defined and scaled into a test that judges can apply to a particular situation.
Barbra Schlifer Clinic raises its voice on a number of important legal issues so that all women and gender diverse people can build lives free from violence, and provide expertise to other community agencies working with women and gender diverse people experiencing violence.
Ahluwalia v. Ahluwalia (July 2023)
The Ontario Court of Appeal in its decision in Ahluwalia v Ahluwalia agreed “it is axiomatic that intimate partner violence must be recognized, denounced and deterred” but – unfortunately – missed the opportunity to affirm the tort of family violence.
As one of the interveners in Ahluwalia, the Clinic argued that the tort of family violence would fill a gap in our existing system of tort law, which fails to adequately capture the wrongdoing at the core of family violence.
Read more here
Tort of Family Law (March 2023)
The Clinic intervened, alongside Luke’s Place, at the Ontario Court of Appeal in a family law case regarding a new family law tort. The case involves parties who were married for 16 years and share two children. The issues at trial were property equalization, child support, spousal support, and the mother’s claim for damages about the father’s abuse during the marriage.
Justice Mandhane specifically recognized a common law tort of family violence. Given the limitations of the Divorce Act, it was found that “only an award in tort can properly compensate for the true harms and financial barriers associated with family violence.”
In our joint intervention, the Clinic argued that Justice Mandhane’s finding was correct and that existing torts were insufficient to capture the uniquely harmful aspects of family violence.
Children’s Law Reform Act and the Divorce Act.
The Clinic provided the following recommendations for amending the Children’s Law Reform Act, to assist women who are accessing Ontario’s family law legal system for safe and fair resolutions following family breakdown. We believe the following recommendations will increase safety for women and children. In addition, we believe these recommendations will bring more clarity and consistency to the family law system overall for all women, regardless of whether they are married or seeking a divorce.
R. v. Slatter
The Clinic’s position in front of the Supreme Court was based on two points: the complainant’s evidence must not be found unreliable because of the possibility of being “suggestible” based on stereotypes and generalized assumptions about the complainant, and that such assumptions raise additional evidentiary hurdles for deaf and disabled migrant women, a demographic already at high risk of sexual violence.
The Clinic has a significant interest in the interpretation and application of legislation addressing allowing for the summary dismissal of strategic lawsuits against public participation (“SLAPP”). Retaliatory suits are often used by perpetrators of violence to suppress survivors from reporting or seeking help and support from others.
R vs. Ururyar
The Clinic made submissions in support of Mandi Gray’s restitution award in the case of R vs. Ururyar.
- The Clinic welcomes the legislative changes proposed in Bill C-78 by the federal government.
- Open letter to Parliament re: Bill C-71 – An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms
- Intervened in a case involving a Muslim woman’s right to testify about sexual assault while wearing a niqab, a veil that covers the face except for the eyes (Factum_Intervener_BSCC_N.S.);
- Intervened at the supreme court to protect the privacy rights of two sexual assault complainants when the defense counsel and the crown argued to have their past police occurrence records released to the defense (AffidavitofAmandaDale, NoticeMotioLeaveIntervene, Quesnelle Media Release, SupremeCourtCanada_Decision_Quesnelle)
- Fought the federal government when it loosened the gun laws in Canada specifically related to that class of firearms – the guns most often used to kill and terrorize women in domestic violence situations (Applicant’s Factum (C1059857xA0E3A) Ont_Firearms & ADale_SwornAffidavit_Ontario_Firearms, also Accounting for Deprivation)
- Intervened on a Supreme Court case that tested the scope of harms considered by the Humanitarian and Compassionate immigration provision, which is used by women who experience violence to stay their deportations when their experience of violence has not been properly heard through the refugee or regular immigration process (BSCC Written Subs Bill S-7 KanthasamyFactumBSCC_CCVT, Affidavit_of Amanda Dale, SCCDecision)
- Intervened on the “Barbaric Cultures Act”, introduced by the Government of Stephen Harper, and not repealed by the current Liberal government (BSCC Written Subs Bill S-7), (Final Bill S7 Statement Updated,”The country we want doesn’t use fake feminism to hate“
- Provided evidence in a Federal Court challenge in response to the Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) provisions of the immigration and refugee act.(IMM-3700-13 AND IMM-5940-14, Amanda Dale – DCOAffidavit)
- Presented to United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on the matter of the Federal Government’s banning of face coverings at the Citizenship Ceremony. (CERDSchliferCitizenshipBan-3)
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