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December 2007
LEAF Newsletter
Advancing women's equality through litigation, education, and law reform
In This Issue
LEAF Persons Day Breakfasts
Congrats Marilou McPhedran
Legal Update


LEAF is a national, non-profit organization committed to using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to promote equality for women and girls.


LEAF's Annual Persons Day Breakfasts across the Country!
 
LEAF Persons Day Breakfasts took place across the country - from Victoria to Halifax. Here are some highlights from the events.
 
 
LEAF Edmonton
 
JTory-DSaltzman-AJohnsonOn October 17, LEAF Edmonton hosted an invigorating and inspiring annual person's day breakfast. Jan Reimer, Provincial Co-ordinator, Alberta Council of Women's Shelters delivered an evocative speech: "Abused Women and Children - Who Cares?" LEAF Board of Directors representative Jennifer Tomaszewski provided an update on LEAF's activities nationally. (In the photo: Keynote Speaker Jan Reimer)
 
 
LEAF Regina

JTory-DSaltzman-AJohnsonThe LEAF Regina Breakfast, held on October 19, 2007, featured keynote speaker Alma Wiebe, QC. and past-president of the Law Society of Saskatchewan. Wiebe addressed the audience of approximately 125 people on the subject of the Honourable Bertha Wilson the first female Supreme Court judge who passed away in  April 2007. Ms. Wiebe gave a succinct, enthusiastic and informative talk on the contributions of Bertha Wilson to women's equality in Canada. (In this photo from right to left: Keynote Speaker Alma Wiebe, Valerie Picketts, Wendee Kubik, Mary Hampton, Darlene Juschka and Cheryl Bauer Hyde)

 
LEAF Manitoba
 
JTory-DSaltzman-AJohnsonOn October 18, the anniversary of the Persons Case, over 900 individuals from all "walks of life" came together to celebrate the use of law for positive social change and to be inspired by two equality activists. Fiona Sampson, LEAF's National Director of Litigation, with warmth and humour shared the latest about LEAF's important legal and educational work. Mary Eberts, internationally recognized feminist lawyer, social activist, and LEAF founding mother, received a standing ovation in recognition of her expertise and ongoing commitment to the advancement of equality for all women. (In the photo: Keynote speaker Mary Eberts, LEAF Director of Litigation Fiona Sampson, and LEAF Manitoba Chair Betty Hopkins)
 
 
LEAF
Ottawa

JTory-DSaltzman-AJohnsonThe Ottawa Person's Day Breakfast brought in over 130 guests including several MPs, senators, members from law firms in the Ottawa area, University of Ottawa students, professors from Carleton and University of Ottawa, and other LEAF Ottawa friends and supporters.

Beverly Jacobs, President of the Native Women's Association of Canada, gave an opening prayer and spoke to equality of Native women. She reminded the audience that, although Persons' Day is a celebration of women, Native women were not afforded the same opportunities until 1960.

LEAF National Chair Kim Brooks spoke to the recent closing of the National Association of Women and the Law and of the Court Challenges Program, and the change in mandate of the Status of Women Canada. She acknowledged that despite these setbacks, LEAF continues to further women's equality. Kim's spirit helped set the tone for the breakfast.

This year's keynote speaker was investigative journalist Yvette Brend. Her speech centered on her investigative work around the missing women of Vancouver's east side, long before a man was charged in their death. Her speech was touching and very well received. (In the photo: Keynote Speaker Yvette Brend)

 
National Breakfast
 
JTory-DSaltzman-AJohnsonLEAF Nati
onal's Persons Day Breakfast took place on Thursday, October 19th at Fairmont Royal York hotel.  Nearly 700 attendees came out to enjoy a hot breakfast, the company of a wide range of professional, business, academic and community based women and men, and particularly enjoyed this year's panel of speakers. The panel, moderated by Marcia McClung (granddaughter of "Famous Five" member, Nellie McClung), comprised of three young women leaders:  Tonika Morgan, Project Manager of Women Moving Forward, Laurel Mitchell, Founder of the Miss G Project, and Salimah Y. Ebrahim, journalist and founder of the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition. The panel responded to questions regarding young women's equality, activism, and the role of young women in feminism today. The event was a success on all fronts, netting over $85,000 towards LEAF's equality work and bringing together a diverse group of equality supporters in Toronto.

A special thank you goes out to this year's Title Sponsor - C.A. Delaney Capital Management and to Patron sponsors BMO Financial Group, Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Scotiabank Group, TD Canada Trust and all Table sponsors, in-kind donors and attendees. 

In a questionnaire, guestsshared overwhelmingly positive feedback:

 -        The forum was wondrous! So refreshing to hear young articulate passionate panelists.

-          This was so inspiring. THANK YOU!

-          Very good - the panel discussion was outstanding

-          I loved that the focus of the panel was young feminists. This often isn't a focus in many forums

-          The panelists were exceptional and their discussion very engaging

-          Excellent - we need a reminder at least once a year of achievements & challenge

We would love to hear from you!  Please contact Mitzi Reinsilber at [email protected] or by telephone at 416.595.7170, ext. 222 if you attended this year's national event and would like to share feedback, if you are interested in participating in the planning of the 2008 event, or if you have any suggestions regarding possible speakers, sponsors, or sources of prize donations. (In the photo: Breakfast panelists Laurel Mitchell, Tonika Morgan, Salimah Ebrahim, with Moderator Nellie McClung)
 
LEAF Founding Mother Appointed Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

Longtime LEAF supporter Marilou McPhedran was recently appointed Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. Involved since LEAF's inception, Marilou worked as a volunteer between 1981-1985 and was subsequently one of LEAF's founding mothers in 1985. She is also former chair of the LEAF Foundation and LEAF National.  Marilou is currently a visiting professor holding the Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law. Congratulations Marilou!

 
 
LEGAL UPDATE

Honda v. Kevin Keays:

By order dated October 31, 2007, LEAF was granted leave to intervene in Honda v. Keays.  Honda v. Keays is a wrongful dismissal case regarding compensation for harassment and discrimination for employees with disabilities.

This appeal raises the question of whether courts have the responsibility to apply common law principles in a manner consistent with the protections afforded to individuals by human rights law, and the relationship between human rights and the common law.  LEAF is concerned that equality claimants are currently denied full and meaningful access to justice. This is because common law fails to recognize fully discriminatory wrongs, and to adequately and coherently compensate for discriminatory harm. This has resulted in the artificial and unnecessary separation of human rights laws from civil wrongs,.  LEAF will argue that employment contracts should be understood to prohibit all forms of discrimination, and that equality claimants are entitled to compensation for the breach of this implied term of contract. An implied term of an employment contract would be that an employee shall not engage in nor be subject to sexual harassment.

LEAF will also argue that the comparator group analysis for both human rights and section 15 purposes must incorporate substantive equality, not the formal equality limitations advocated by the Appellant Honda.

 

The following groups/institutions were also granted leave to intervene in Honda: Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Ontario Human Rights Commission, Canadian Human Rights Commission, Manitoba Human Rights Commission, Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario, National ME/FM Action Network, Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups, and the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters Canada. A decision has not yet been made with respect to oral argument.

 

LEAF's factum is due on January 15, 2008.  The oral hearing before the Supreme Court is scheduled for February 20, 2008.  Counsel for LEAF in this case are Susan Ursel and Kim Bernhardt.


LEAF National Consultation on the Impact of NAPE/Auton/Hodge:

On November 3 and 4, LEAF hosted a consultation in Ottawa to study the impact of the Supreme Court of Canada's decisions in NAPE v. Newfoundland, Auton v. British Columbia, and Hodge v. Canada on equality jurisprudence in Canada.  The Supreme Court's decisions in NAPE, Auton and Hodge have significantly turned back the clock on equality rights progress in Canada. The goal of the consultation was to assess the impact of the Supreme Court's decisions in NAPE, Auton and Hodge, and also to strategize about how to repair the damage done by these decisions and work towards achieving improved equality rights jurisprudence.

 

The agenda for the consultation, broadly speaking, addressed the following issues; the status of the s.15 discrimination test, the status of formal vs. substantive equality, the status of the comparator analysis, the status of s. 1 analyses and the significance of cost based justifications, and the importation of cost based concerns out of s.1 and into remedy considerations.

A final report summarizing the consultation findings will be available in the new year and will be posted on LEAF's website.

LEAF is grateful to the Court Challenges Program and the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession at the Ottawa University Law School for funding this consultation.

 

R v. Kindrat:

A Long Way From Ewanchuk and a Long Way to Go
Written by: Pia Hundal, Law Student, Osgoode Law School

On September 30, 2001, a 12 year old girl from Tisdale, Saskatchewan had run away from home after an argument with her mother. She got a ride from three men, all in their twenties, in a pick-up truck. . . .
 
The next thing she remembers was being held down by two of the men, while the other raped her - they took turns raping her on the side of a country road. These men never denied having sex with her that night, in fact, they even admitted to the police that they had sexual contact with the girl. The men defended their actions, claiming that they believed this girl was over 14 years old and that she consented to sex with them. . .
 
At trial, only one of the three men, Dean Edmondson, was convicted of sexual assault and he served a two-year conditional sentence in the community - he did not go to jail. The other two men, Jeffrey Kindrat and Jeffrey Brown, were acquitted in June 2003. . .
 
Go to
www.leaf.ca
to read more about the troubling definitions of sexual consent in this case.
 

 
10 Years Ago at LEAF


In 1997, LEAF intervened in many significant equality rights cases, including:

Forced confinement of pregnant women (Winnipeg Child and Family Services v. G.(D.F.))

Judge accused of bias in Nova Scotia Case (RDS)

Definition of Consent in Sexual Assault Cases (Darrach)

Medical Interpreters for people with hearing disabilities (Eldridge)

Failure to include sexual orientation in Alberta's Human Rights Code (Vriend)

Read more about LEAF's history of equality rights at www.leaf.ca.
 
 
Questions about this newsletter?

Contact: Angela Regnier, National Director of Communications & Branch Relations
416-595-7170  ext. 224