Peter A. Allard School of Law

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By Geoff Golda, 3L

This morning for me began like any other Thursday morning. Because I don’t have class on Thursdays, I allow myself to get up a little later than usual. I putz around the apartment for a while, turn on the kettle and grind some coffee for the French press. I have a number of readings to catch up on today, but they can wait until after my morning coffee and cigarette. Indeed, they can wait until after I play a few songs on the guitar. Maybe I’ll get breakfast before delving into them. Or read some of my novel.

In truth, I’m no stranger to procrastination. That jolt of motivation in the eleventh hour has been the backbone of a good many of my scholarly achievements. This semester has been generally different thus far, though. This semester I’ve been doing my readings before classes. This semester I’ve been attending my classes. This semester is my last, and out of some sense of needing to prove something to myself or just wanting to be the best me I can be while still officially connected to Allard Hall, I’ve been doing things right for a change. No, please reserve your accolades. I really haven’t done anything yet.

For whatever reason, I’m putting as many things between myself and getting onto my readings as possible this morning. I’m procrastinating in a way which is not unfamiliar, but which is uncharacteristic of my year thus far. New Years resolutions have a way of fading as January wears on, but in fact I’d never resolved to be a better student this semester. I just started doing it. As I look out onto the wet streets and bobbing umbrellas below, I realize that there is something else which has caused me to hesitate with respect to my routine. There is somewhere else that I should be.

Yesterday, our noble LSS President Andrea Fraser alerted me to the fact that she would be giving a speech at the surprise announcement in the Franklin Lew forum today. She wouldn’t tell me what the announcement was. This frustrated me. A law school is no place for surprise announcements. We require notice, so that we can adequately respond. Notice of “a surprise” in my eyes is akin to no notice at all. I realize after placing my guitar down this morning that I’m unreasonably irked by the whole thing. Not only that, but I’m irked by the fact that others don’t seem to be similarly irked. “Free lunch,” they assure me, dismissive of my indignance. As if the virtue of a free lunch could overwhelm the most egregious injustices.

No. Today I will not sit idly by in my apartment catching up with readings while whatever surprise announcement is made. Today I will be heard. Justice be done, though free lunch be served. I dress myself, step out into the rain, board the 44, plug in my headphones, and turn on some meditative sounds so I can calmly measure my approach.

I walk into Allard Hall on a mission. It’s 11:25. That gives me 35 minutes to determine what on earth is going on here before the official announcement ceremony begins. I begin by asking a few students, none of whom seem to know for sure what is going on. There is a rumour going around that Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin might be giving a speech – a most unlikely occurrence given that the Supreme Court is in session and moreover because there would be a number of people, including myself, who would have been exceptionally angry to have missed out on such an event. The more likely candidate regards a certain $30 million endowment to the law school by Peter A. Allard, and news that the law school would be renamed “Peter A. Allard School of Law”.

The gall! A surprise announcement that this man is able to throw incredible sums of money around and stick his name on whatever he likes? And we’re supposed to celebrate and be happy about this somehow? How perverse! Satisfied that this is indeed what is going on, I set about talking with students about what is about to take place. I throw a lot of choice words around, narcissist among them. One can’t just go throwing money about and expect the world to love him for it. Indeed, I will be taking my free lunch (I can’t speak to the chilli, but the pulled pork sandwiches were fantastic) and listening to what is to be said, but no, I’m not buying any of this, and no, I’m not happy about it.

Shortly before the actual speech portion of the announcement was underway, I got a moment to speak with Andrea Fraser about the whole thing. I made a number of the same comments that I had made to others that morning and managed to get in a little dig about how she, the strong minded and sceptical force of nature that she is, still somehow managed to be sucked into the whole thing. I wasn’t speaking as such in order to offend her, so much as to convey the general sense of losing faith in humanity that was welling up in my gut. If even the best of us are happy to live on our knees, well…

In any event, Ms. Fraser set to setting me straight. She told me that I had it wrong, that I shouldn’t be running my mouth as I had been, and that she’d hoped I hadn’t been spewing such non-sense around to others. I suggested she not be so hard on me, that indeed there were few among us willing to resist such gratuitous displays of extravagance, and that she might do well to take a page out of my book. That said, I agreed to hold my tongue until I heard what the Dean, herself, and Mr. Allard had to say.

Dean Mary Anne Bobinski stepped up to the lectern and encouraged the students, faculty, alumni, and others in attendance to begin filling the forum. Still skeptical, and eager to hear was was going to be said, I took a position in the front row near the center of the room. After a brief recap of the law school’s history and a warm introduction, with many a pause for applause, Peter Allard was given the floor.

To my surprise (!) and shame, the man humbly delivered a 12 page speech with hardly a word about himself or his achievements. Peter spoke about some of his inspirations, in particular U.S. Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Harry S. Truman, who he described as people who strove for causes which were beyond themselves as mere mortals. He talked about our mortality. He talked about some of the good things that had come out of our law school. He spoke of a hope for the future, of the courage that would be required of each of us to move this world on toward better things – in spite of the corruption and growing disenfranchised, which he also spoke of. He expressed lament over the sense of powerlessness that seems to have taken hold in the youth of today, but, with humility, he reiterated his sentiments about the power and the spirit in each of us to motivate change. To take care of each other. To live by the golden rule.

Andrea Fraser got up after him and, without having much advance notice of what would be taking place that day, was able to express from a students point of view what Peter A. Allard meant to us, and what the endowment would mean going forward. When she finished speaking, the forum was opened up, and guests were invited to champagne and sparkling water to celebrate the event. I stood in place dumbfounded for a moment, piecing back together the fragments of this unexpected day.

I decided, not being able to find each and every person I’d ranted to before the announcement in the ensuing chaos, that the best I might be able to do would be to apologize to Mr. Allard in person. I shook his hand, and he introduced himself (“Peter”) before I had a chance to do the same. I explained to him what I had done before the announcement, about the disparaging comments that I’d canvased the student body with. I told him that I now felt quite bad about the whole thing, and that I’d wished I’d heard him out before casting judgement on his actions. His response was as humbling as the speech he’d given before – he laughed, and told me that someone was bound to take such a shot at him. His magnanimity left me, as Andrea Fraser had described the effect of his gift in her speech moments before, breathless. He told me I wasn’t the only one to have had the thoughts that I did, and we started into another conversation, before we were all too quickly cut off by another group of students eager to make his acquaintance. I shook his hand once more, told him I was glad to have met him, and walked away with no more animus toward him or the school than that a detached autumn leaf might have for the tree that once bore it.

The Diary of Allard Girl: Pages 1-3.

Page 1:

Law School Party in 2012.

Law School Party in 2012.

Something very strange is happening at law parties, and it doesn’t add up. Are Allard High students truly responsible for the atrocious things that have happened at recent ‘animalistic’ law parties? An independent task force (Andreea Frasier with a magnifying glass and her sleuth dog Banks) has looked into the matter and has come up with startling findings – students from Saudr Skool of Stocks and Bonds (“Saudr”) have been getting their suits tailored-up to look like real law students, and appearing at all of our events to crash the party.

Let me recap for you the horror, caused by these rogues at the museum party: Employees were running back and forth with mops, using their bodies as human shields for the precious “exhibits” (a few toy boats and some wooden blocks), propping the crumbling rafters up with broom handles, and shutting down what was left of the dance floor, which had completely fallen away to expose a bottomless abyss. As the apocalypse raged on around them, one museum employee dropped to their knees, screaming “Whyyyyyyyyyy??? Why is there a pitchfork stuck in the ceiling????”. When interviewed, Kaytln Cowarrd summed the atrocities up perfectly, saying “You know what? You’re the best. Seriously though – I love you. You’re great. I love everyone here,” before hugging every person at the party. Roslyn Chann, a Saudr grad, was witnessed grimacing from the shadows, hissing “excellent, my pretties….excellent…”.

Geez, you’d think that would be enough, but no. I’m afraid it gets worse. When two people love each other, sometimes they do puzzling things. Sometimes those things happen on an artifact in a museum. What better way to declare your romantic love for someone, than on a stationary boat, in a public function, in a museum? Of course, this has happened multiple times on moving boats in the law school’s history… but that’s different.

In a disappointing turn of events, the Illegal Beavers rugby team were surprisingly calm, sober, and well behaved, as they bravely manned the beer tubs amidst the chaos. Branden MacLowd had this to say “Some people just like to watch the world burn. Others like to make money off of beer sales while it’s happening.”

The museum is not the only thing that Saudr students have left in complete and utter shambles. From the original boat cruise boat (may it rest in English Bay), to the ruins of Hycroft House (anyone want some reclaimed mahogany?), law parties have run rampant over Vancouver. Initially, the Channing regime tried blaming all of the atrocities on the fact that law students get ridiculously stoked, causing them to do inexplicable things. This obscures the truth. We do, from time to time, get stoked, but the task force has made a vital finding of fact: the Saudr rogue group is a bunch of ‘stoking-experts’. With Chann’s help, they are capable of going ‘incognito’ at any private function, and getting so stoked that the group hosting the event actually gets banned. Then, on they go to their next victim.

This threat must be addressed, and the moles among us must be exposed, so that we’re not relegated to partying in barns like they do in Winnipeg (though at least this would be an appropriate venue to bring a pitchfork). On the whole, it’s just so relieving to find out that law students would never ever do anything like that, ever. Phew.

-Allard Girl xoxoxo


Page 2:

A new sporting craze has taken Allard High by storm. Since its introduction in September, Spikeball has gained an almost cult-like popularity. Played with a green oversized dog toy and what appears to be a trampoline for 3 year olds situated on the ground, Spikeball is played by two teams of two, who alternate hitting said dog toy off of said baby-trampoline until one team fails to do so. It’s all very important and epic. Yay sports.

Tal Letourno-Shesaff, the owner of a pretentious hyphenated name and incredible Spikeball skills, is the undisputed MVP of the Allard High spikeball league. Bill Skinnr, the grand-daddy of spikeball at UBC, says of Letourno-Shesaf: “I’ve never seen anyone with such direct access to the net. Even when he’s fully standing up, he’s no more than three feet away from it. That’s a big…..errr….significant advantage.”

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows in spikeball-land though. Will Skinnr is not happy with the game’s reputation as a “glamour sport”.

“We’re tired of being objectified as ‘those shirtless guys on the front lawn’” said Skinnr. “If you can see past the manly chest-hair, the rippling biceps, and the chiselled buttocks, we’re actually extremely skilled players.”

At press time, Blaire McRadoo and Letourno-Shesaf were showing off the results of their summer cut, Will Skinner was exhibiting his voluptuous chest-bush, and Corey Segall was tending to his pristine quaff. Jamie Hoops was also there.

The UBC Spikeball team, in a rare, fully-clothed picture.

The UBC Spikeball team, in a rare, fully-clothed picture.

-Allard Girl xoxoxo


Page 3:

We Allardians love hearing about the latest hook-ups, break-ups and make-ups amoung our peers. In fact, nothing gets us more excited than some good old-fashioned relationship drama. Nothing, that is, except for bromances a-brewing among the Allard bros and let me tell you, the boys have been drama-licious this year. Here’s what you need to know about the brouples and blossoming bromances at Allard High so far this year.

By now, Dawid Kempp and John Brawn’s sit-com-esque, 1 gay, 1 straight, bromance turned roomie-ship is old news but there’s a new duo trying to steal their obnoxiously charming thunder. Rumour has it Wilsin Scot and Kevan Hennissey took the plunge and became roomies this summer and their apartment is as hilarious and awkward as we all imagine. We get it, you’re so 2014. Sources tell us Wilsin was spotted at the Exchange Information Session, could there be trouble in paradise?

The gym has proven to be a bromance breeding ground this year. Sources say Waine Fernandess and Cryley O’Rien have been seen “chalking each other up” on more than one occasion, if you know what I mean. “Just last week, I heard Cryley sensuously whisper to Waine that he’d take him to ‘Thighland’ to get some nice spicy ‘thigh’ food – I don’t even want to know what that means,” said gym frequenter Daweed Csysyslsuhdfk. Daweed has also been spotted broupled up in da gym with Babs Zargarianne, but the two refuse to comment on their own bro-lationship status, stating that they “Keep it professional” when they’re “pumping”.

Even the new kids are getting in on the bro love. We’ve all seen 1Ls Jamess Strutters and Meesha Smokin gallivanting around Allard showing off their Bro ‘Mos and skinny jeans but our sources tell us the two have taken their bromance to the next level. “They’ve even given themselves a brouple name, they call themselves ‘Jasha’ and I heard they got a joint account, tinder account.” said fellow 1L Jenn Hortin when asked about her friends’ bro-lationship status.

Perhaps most scandalously, there are rumours that Tye Dergosouph has been seen bromantically engaging with a Non-L. That’s right people, Tye is rumoured to be bro-ing out with his J Crew Salesman. Tye refused to comment but the proof is in the well-dressed, preppy pudding if you ask me.

Jasha <3

Jasha ❤

-Allard Girl xoxoxo

The Confusing Road to Allard Hall: One Step at a Time

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Seems like a 45 degree angle to me.

Warning: this article contains personal opinions about stepping-stones based on actual facts.

Written By: Dawid Cieloszczyk, 2L.

Do you ever feel like you’re taking steps in the wrong direction? Does the path to your destination seem like a nonsensical winding, side-ways, unevenly spaced, awkward series of motions? Because this, is precisely what the new steps leading to Allard Hall feel like.

Just look at them. I am doubtful that Allard changed its admissions standards to invite individuals with extraordinarily long legs, or who are generally comfortable walking sideways, AND have a high LSAT/GPA. With TRU and a possible TWU looming about, this scenario becomes frightfully more realistic.

Here’s the thing about ‘funny’ architecture. It’s just not very humorous at all. As a functional thing, ordinary people usually take pathways cutting through fields in order to save some time; effort is presumably reduced. “Yes, but we are absurd beings though”, says the existential architect. “We must embrace the futility of progress, and that straight, evenly spaced steps are simply le mainstream”. Can we rid ourselves of our fragile mental shackles and embrace the awkward path before us? For these steps are more than just slabs of rock, my dear friends. They are the burning in the loins, because you usually find yourself overextending to avoid taking 100 baby steps and mud on your shoes.

Could you imagine how complacent students would get walking straight to class, without navigating their footing oh so fanatically? It would be like Groundhog Day: every day is exactly the same. We can only shudder at such a reality.

There’s a popular theological argument called “Paley’s Ontological Argument”, in which a person walking by the beach discovers a watch, knowing nothing about it or where it came from. He/she can only be led to the conclusion that a watchmaker or intelligent designer was responsible for the complex gadget, and draws an analogy to an intelligent designer for the universe. When I look at these steps, my mind goes blank, because I only see the design part. Well.. yeah, at least they were designed.

Surely Allard Hall isn’t all about the schadenfreude, as a progressive institution of learning with all of these egalitarian values. Could this have really been done to watch your tortured friends attempt to shimmy across the field awkwardly? I guess we’ll never know..

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Just look at those failed footprints.

First Round of Guile Debate: Lawyers are Overpaid Scribes

BY TAYLOR CLARKE, LAW III

The Guile debate tryouts happened on the 15th of November. It was a Thursday. There must have been about a dozen people trying out. Good for them. They all debated about whether lawyers are just overpaid scribes. Obviously they are.

What did we learn from the debaters? Well there were 6 debaters pro and 6 con. But the 4 who made the finals were all debaters pro. Maybe this tells us more about the judges than the resolution.

First debater con: Anthony Toljanich, (pronounced tall-an-itch, you’re welcome Tony). Best dick joke of the night, I give it a 15.

First debater pro: Zoe Si. You had to listen very carefully to Zoe, which I didn’t, but she said something about teabags. I don’t know what that means but people seemed to laugh. Orange Pekoe is my least favourite tea.

Second debater pro: Glenn Grande. Glenn told a story in rhyming slang involving his inability to bang.

Second debater con: Rares Crisan. What kind of a name is Rares? He must be a first year. The best and worst thing about his debate was that he rambled.

Third debater pro: yours truly. Probably the only presentation that had any basis in fact. Everyone knows that the only thing the law has going for it is that it’s a big secret.

Fourth debater pro: Chris Thompson. I had to take a leak during most of this. When I got back there was a Dmitry joke. Good for Dmitry.

Third debater con: Guy Riseborough. This guy made a good point, how can you be overpaid when your expenses exceed your pay? Answer: a tenth of an hour at a time.

Fifth debater pro: Patrick Walker. Based on his presentation, Patrick should probably be in prison. Good thing he’s in law school.

Fourth debater con: Martina Zanetti. Sassy, funny, stylish. A few more rugby jokes and she might have had a chance.

Fifth debater con: Wes Berger. Easily he was the most sincere debater. He gave an impassioned defence of the status quo.

Sixth debater pro: Will Shaw. Challenged the entire room to trial by combat. Was almost certainly pummeled after the show.

Sixth debater con: Diarmuid Wickham. Confused 1L thought he was at an LSLAP trial.

The finals will be at the end of January. The finalists are Will Shaw, Glenn Grande, Zoe Si, and last, least, and largely, Chris Thompson. Congratulations to them all. I hope they all have just the best time.

Refoos to Loose Sweeps the Foosball Tourney

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BY CHRISTINA GRAY, LAW III

On a rainy afternoon this October, the All Obiter Club and Indigenous Law Student’s Association teamed up to host their second Foosball Tourney. Four co-ed teams came to show the student body their best moves, but there were only two winners that day – Catrina Webster and Noah Stewart who go by the moniker “Refoos to Loos”. Vibert Jack and Joanne Barnum took home second place with “Baconbaconbacon (BBB)” –  Antonia Modkova and Adrien Habermacher – coming in third place.

There was a lot of excitement about the teams throughout the day in the corridors of Allard Hall in anticipation for the big match. Students were standing around nervously at lunch time trying to decide who would take home the cup.

Tension was in the air that rainy afternoon, as the crowd watched the ball shoot quickly from one side to the other by highly skilled foosball players. It was a matter of whose wrists could move faster and with greater intensity during those fast paced games.

In the first round, “Refoos to Loos” won two rounds against their international opponents BBB. At the end of the day, Refoos to Loos proved that their hand and eye coordination is best to none. At one point Vibert Jack (of  “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Foos”) was heard saying in the final round, “Finally, we are beating them by one point”. Refoos to Loos also beat out the international duo – Antonia and Adrien. There was a good effort put out by “BBB”, but Noah’s trick move known as the “snake (a wind up that powerfully impacts the ball)” was a tough one to beat.

The next two teams to play were “I Guess that’s Why they Call it the Foos” (Vibert and Joanne) and “Leave the Gun and Take the Cannoli (Martina Zanetti and James “Jimbo” Boxall)”. The Foos won those two rounds against the former Reid team’ers to go on to the final round.

In the final round, the opponents put their game faces on to battle each other in the hopes of winning the coveted Foosball Cup, along with a $50 gift certificate to Salmon ‘n Bannock, and two prints by Don McIntyre and Mike Dangeli of the House of Culture. Both teams fiercely played two games to five points and Refoos to Loos won the match by taking both games. Noah and Catrina were ecstatic to win their limited edition prints and the cup, showing their delight with super enthusiastic jumping high-fives.

The second place finishers were content to choose their prize of Settlers of Catan, which was donated to the LSS in their honour. The crowd was hoping for giant Jenga to be chosen, but in the end the runners-up preferred the task of building roads, settlements, farms and what not to taking one from the bottom and putting it on top. In all fairness though, regular Jenga was chosen by the runners-up in the last foosball tournament.

The next Foosball Tournament will be in the spring with Danielle Eastveld helping out on the food front again. There are rumours that there may be jelly bean treats and the jumbotron blasting nostalgic hits that will certainly be remembered by anyone that was born before 1994. Be sure to sign up to play — if not for the anticipation of jelly beans, then definitely to show your school support for the aptly dubbed ‘Sceptics Club’.

30 Years of the Charter: Is it ‘Just Words’?

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Bradley Por, LAW III

This April, Canadians will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the patriation of Canada’s constitution from Britain, and the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter has come to assume a lofty position in law, politics, and in the public’s eyes. It has become the centrepiece of our legal order, and a default point of reference for making the claim that to be Canadian means to be free.

Three decades of Charter jurisprudence have produced a number of significant wins for rights-seeking claimants. This belies the pessimism of those who predicted it would prove to be a document with no muscle. Nevertheless, the nearly sacred view of the Charter in Canadian law tends to mask its limitations, so it is important to place it in context, and assess what social functions the Charter actually serves.

In 1997, UBC’s Faculty of Law professor, Joel Bakan, wrote a book entitled, Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs, which made the argument that the Charter, despite its just words, had done little to advance social justice in Canada. Prof. Bakan wrote, “The emancipatory and egalitarian potential of the Charter ultimately depends on the social and historical circumstances surrounding its use.” From this perspective, the Charter does little work on its own to disrupt entrenched power structures or status quo social norms that perpetuate social wrongs.

In 2012, Prof. Bakan’s critique of the Charter remains highly relevant. On the other hand, some strong and progressive Charter decisions have come down from the Supreme Court of Canada in recent years. The unanimous decision to uphold the right of InSite to continue providing needle exchange services in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver (Canada (AG) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44) is an example. In PHS, the court cited Charter section 7 as one of the grounds for upholding Insite’s right to provide needle exchange services in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. This was seen as a major victory for some of the most marginalized people in Canadian society.

However, while PHS left the door open at least a crack for similar facilities to be legally established in Canada, the court was still fairly careful to limit the scope of its decision to the InSite location. Its effect was to prevent the government from closing down an already existing, life-saving medical facility. The decision has limited impact on the core problems of racialized, gendered, and class-based oppression which are at the root of the crisis in the Downtown Eastside. Significant social, not merely legal, change is required to tackle these underlying issues.

The position of organized labour in Canadian society also reflects the Charter‘s limits as an engine of social justice. There have been a series of successes in court for unions asserting rights under s. 2(d) freedom of association and s.2(b) freedom of expression.

In 2004, the Supreme Court’s decision in BC Health Sevices (2007 SCC 27) affirmed a constitutional right for workers and unions to engage in collective bargaining under s. 2(d) of the Charter. This dramatically limits the potential for union activity to be restricted through legislation. But this legal victory does not mean that organized labour has suddenly become stronger in Canada. When one looks at how the power of unions vis-à-vis large employers has declined over the past few decades, and the hostile approach federal and provincial governments continue to take towards public sector unions, it is hard to argue that this case has tilted the balance of power in unions’ favour.

The Supreme Court has also avoided pushing organized labour rights too far. Last year, in Ontario(AG) v. Fraser (2011 SCC 20), the court upheld provincial labour legislation which created a separate, and significantly weaker, regime of rights for agricultural workers, without the full range of collective bargaining rights other workers are granted. The legislation was seen as consistent with the court’s decision in BC Health Services on the grounds that a right to collective bargaining did not entail a right to participate in any particular form of collective bargaining. Agricultural workers, most of who are racialized minorities with low incomes, were left with limited rights to organize and bargain collectively. This legislation hampered the workers’potential to better their employment situation through collective action.

The position of unions in Canada highlights the degree to which progress for weaker groups must come from real social change, and why social justice proponents cannot simply rely on the law. The Charter protects a very specific set of rights that can be asserted, by individuals, against the authority of the state. The Charter’s ability to advance the interests of marginalized groups, and to induce positive change, is severely limited. Recognizing a right to collective bargaining, based in the individual’s rights to freedom of association, only prevents the government from legislating away bargaining rights to further weaken unions. It does not create a real platform for organized labour to enter a new era of power and influence to advance workers’ interests.

The truth is, no matter how it is interpreted, law cannot be the source of social justice. There is no replacement for collective political action to push for progress. But in a country built on liberal principles, with the rule of law, we often talk as if our rights are everything. This is reflected in Canadians’ veneration of the Charter.

As the third decade of Charter jurisprudence comes to an end, there is much to reflect on how the Charter has actually served, or failed to serve, the quest for social justice. If we  put it into perspective, we can recognize that, for many marginalized people in Canada, life is no better under the Charter than it was before.

It should also be remembered that for First Nations, Canadian law has been imposed without consent. While Aboriginal and treaty rights have been “recognized and affirmed” by s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the Charter affects and informs the application of law generally, and the test for determining whether an Aboriginal right has been infringed bears a striking similarity to the Oakes test employed in Charter jurisprudence. The Charter is often viewed as the source of legal freedom and equality in Canada, but it does not play a key role in the pursuit of justice for Aboriginal peoples.  Social justice in Canada demands reconciliation of the wrongs done to Aboriginal peoples by the assertion of Canadian sovereignty over their territories. This reconciliation cannot simply come through interpretation of the colonizers’ law. Aboriginal legal traditions reflect a different approach to justice than the one articulated in the Charter. Holding up the Charter as the pinnacle of law in Canada helps reinforce the profound injustice which underlies Canada’s emergence as a nation. True reconciliation must come from political and social change that recognizes First Nations’ sovereign claims, and the Charter can do little to advance this cause.

So as we celebrate the Charter‘s anniversary and as another year of law school draws to a close, we should recall that law is, as Prof. Bakan suggested, just words. The law can be altered and employed in progressive ways. But in order for power imbalances to be reversed, the systems of power law functions to support must be tackled head on. Canadians cannot rely on the courts and the Charter to right social wrongs; they must be willing to take collective, direct action, and make progressive change in their own lives.