The David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights Colloquium

Litigating the Charter: Strategies for a Successful Charter Claim in the 21st Century 

Panellist Bios and Links to Major Cases

Panel 1: Looking Back - Lessons Learned from 25 Years of Charter Litigation

Moderator: Professor Lorne Sossin (University of Toronto, Faculty of Law)

  • Biography

Joseph Arvay, Q.C. (Arvay Finlay Barristers)

Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. holds law degrees from the University of Western Ontario Law School and Harvard Law School. He spent five years as an assistant then associate professor at the University of Windsor Law School before relocating to British Columbia in 1981 where he assumed the position of senior counsel and later general counsel for the British Columbia Ministry of the Attorney General. Mr. Arvay has a busy civil litigation practice but with an emphasis on constitutional and administrative law matters. He has been involved in many constitutional cases of importance in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada. Mr. Arvay has been involved in a number of aboriginal-rights litigation cases and is also counsel on medical malpractice cases, class actions, commercial litigation and defamation.

In 2000 Joseph Arvay was the recipient of the Walter S. Tarnopolsky Human Rights Award and described by Madam Justice Michèle Rivet, President, (Canadian Section) International Commission of Jurists as "one of Canada's most tireless civil rights and human rights lawyers [who] has made a exceptional commitment to human rights in this country." He also received the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, "Reg Robson 2005 Award" on March 31, 2005 for his long-standing work in the area of civil liberties.

Arvay Finlay distinguished itself in the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2005 where Joseph Arvay was "The Most Frequently Recommended Practitioner" in the area of Public Law Litigation in both Vancouver and Victoria. Mr. Arvay was, as well, identified as "Consistently Recommended As A Leading Practitioner in British Columbia" in the areas of Aboriginal Law, Class Action Litigation and Corporate/Commercial Litigation. Joseph Arvay has recently been named as one of the top 100 Best lawyers in Canada in a publication of the same name two years in a row.

Notable constitutional cases:

Professor Michael Code (University of Toronto, Faculty of Law)

  • Biography

Mary Eberts (Law Office of Mary Eberts)

Mary Eberts received her B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Western Ontario and her LL.M. from the Harvard Law School.  She was called to the bar of Ontario in 1974.  From 1974 to 1980, she taught at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, leaving there to join the litigation department at Torys, where she became a partner in January 1984.  In 1994, she established a small specialized litigation practice in Toronto, from which she does equality litigation across Canada.  In 2004-2005, she held the Gordon Henderson Chair in Human Rights at the University of Ottawa.

In 1980, Mary was retained by Doris Anderson at the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women to provide advice on the draft Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and became deeply involved in the improvement of the Charter's guarantees of equality.  Under the auspices of the Council, she was a co-author of Women and Legal Action (1984) a review of public interest litigation in Canada up to the entrenchment of the Charter which established the blueprint for the founding of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund.  Mary was a co-founder of LEAF, and the first chair of its National Legal Committee, and acted as counsel in some of its early cases.  In 1991, she became counsel to the Native Women's Association of Canada, bringing its challenge to exclusion from the constitutional talks leading up to the Charlottetown Accord.  She remains counsel to NWAC, most recently acting in its Charter litigation and subsequent discussions with the Government of Canada on matrimonial real property on reserves.

Mary writes and lectures widely on equality issues, in Canada and abroad, and has been associated with the Constitutional Litigation course at the Faculty of Law since its inception.  She has received numerous honours for her work, including the Governor General's Gold Medal in Honour of the Persons' Case, the Law Society of Upper Canada Medal, the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, the Distinguished Service Award of the Canadian Bar Association-Ontario, the Women's Law Association of Ontario President's Award, and several honorary doctorates.

Notable constitutional cases:

Marlys Edwardh (Ruby & Edwardh)

Marlys Edwardh is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School and received a Masters degree in law from Boalt Hall, University of California at Berkeley. She is a partner with Ruby & Edwardh in Toronto, Ontario. Since being called to the Bar in 1976, Ms Edwardh has practiced in the fields of criminal, constitutional and administrative law. Ms Edwardh has also served as counsel in a number of Commissions of Inquiry, the latest being the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar.

In February 2002 Marlys Edwardh received an honorary doctorate from the Law Society of Upper Canada. In October 2002 she was awarded the G. Arthur Martin Criminal Justice Award by the Criminal Lawyers' Association. In 2004 the Women's Law Association bestowed on Marlys Edwardh the President's Award. In 2005 Ms Edwardh also received the Award of Distinction form the Toronto Lawyers' Association and the Dianne Martin Medal for Social Justice Through Law Award from Osgoode Hall Law School. On November 1, 2005, Ms Edwardh received the Vox Libera Award from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

In addition to her legal practice, Ms Edwardh's memberships and affiliations include:

  • Vice-President, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Special Advisor, Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Member, Canadian Bar Association of Ontario
  • Member, Law Society of Upper Canada
  • Member, Criminal Lawyers' Association

Notable constitutional cases:

Cynthia Petersen (Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP)

Cynthia Petersen practices in the areas of constitutional litigation, administrative law, and labour law and specializes in human rights and equality rights issues.  She joined the firm in 1995 after teaching in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa for several years.

Cynthia has represented clients in numerous ground-breaking Charter cases, including Jane Doe v. Metropolitan Toronto Police and almost all of the lesbian and gay rights cases that have been litigated before the Supreme Court of Canada, including Egan v. Canada, Vriend v. Alberta, M. v. H., Little Sisters Bookstore v. Canada (No.1 and no.2), Chamberlain v. Surrey District School Board, Reference re: Same-Sex Marriage and Hislop v. Canada.  In 2000, Cynthia was awarded the Canadian Bar Association's Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference Hero award for her work advancing the equality rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

In addition to her appellate advocacy work, Cynthia regularly appears before a variety of tribunals and lower courts. She also acts as counsel to a number of professional discipline tribunals, advising them on substantive law issues as well as procedural fairness and natural justice.

Cynthia also acts as the discrimination and harassment counsel for the Law Society of Upper Canada.  As such, she provides confidential information and advice to individuals who have complaints of discrimination or harassment against lawyers in Ontario.

Cynthia is a regular speaker on a wide variety of subjects relating to social justice issues and often conducts educational workshops on human rights issues for various associations and organizations.  She has also published several articles on equity issues, including racism in the criminal jury selection process, the role of trade unions in the lesbian and gay rights movement, and feminist pedagogy in law schools. Cynthia has been qualified as an expert witness in a number of legal proceedings on the topics of institutionalized racism in the criminal jury selection process, the constitutional rights of lesbian and gay Canadians, and sexual harassment and workplace sensitivity.

Cynthia received a bachelor of laws degree from Queen's University in 1989 and a master of laws degree from Harvard Law School in 1990.  She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1994.

Notable constitutional cases:

Deputy Minister Lori Sterling (Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs)

Lori Sterling is the Deputy Minister, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.  In this capacity, she is responsible for the development and implementation of Ontario's policies to improve the social and economic well-being of Aboriginal peoples and communities.
Prior to this appointment, Lori was the Assistant Deputy Attorney General - Legal Services Division, in the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG), where she was responsible for the delivery of legal services to government and its agencies, boards and tribunals. As well, she was responsible for the implementation of the Civil Remedies Act.   Lori has also been Legal Director of the Crown Law Office-Civil, MAG, Legal Director (acting) for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and for many years was Counsel in the Constitutional Law Branch.

Lori has litigated numerous constitutional and Aboriginal cases in the Supreme Court of Canada, including:  Lovelace v. Ontario; R v. Powley; Ontario Federation of Justices of the Peace v. Ontario; Hill v. Scientology; Ramsden v. City of Peterborough; Schacter v. Canada; MacKay v. Manitoba; N.B. Broadcasting v. Nova Scotia; Dagenais v. CBC; Mackin v. N.B; and Kitkatla Band v. B.C.  She also teaches constitutional law at the University of Windsor Law School and the National Judicial Institute and sits on the Board of the Supreme Court of Canada Advocacy Institute.  Lori holds a Master of Laws (LLM) from Cambridge University and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Toronto Law School. 

Notable constitutional cases:

Panel 2: Looking Forward - New Frontiers and Strategies in Charter Litigation

Moderator: Professor Carol Rogerson (University of Toronto, Faculty of Law)

Raj Anand (WeirFoulds LLP)

Raj practises in the areas of human rights, constitutional and administrative law, labour relations, civil litigation, professional negligence and discipline. He is a former Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and presently acts for complainants and respondents before the Ontario and Canadian Human Rights Commissions. He has acted as a Board of Inquiry under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Police Services Act, as Co-Chair of the University of Toronto Tribunal and as counsel to a number of administrative tribunals. He is now the Chair of the Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

Raj has spoken and written on diverse subjects including trial, appellate and administrative advocacy and human rights. He graduated with the Dean's Key in 1978 from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He served in 1986-1987 as a Task Force to the Ontario Government on the Law Concerning Trespass to Publicly-used Property as it Affects Youth and Minorities. His experience as an adjunct professor includes "The New Administrative Law" (2000 and 2006) in the LL.M. programme at Osgoode Hall Law School and "Diversity and the Legal Profession" at U of T's Faculty of Law.

Raj is recognized as a leading practitioner in Toronto in the areas of Workplace Human Rights and Litigation - Public Law in the Canadian Legal Directory by Lexpert. A list of publications and speaking engagements by Raj is set out in this biography.

Notable constitutional cases:

Steven Barrett (Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP)

Steven Barrett practices in the areas of labour law, Charter and constitutional litigation and public interest litigation. He joined the firm in 1985, has been a partner since 1988 and has served as managing partner since 2006.

In addition to litigating before a variety of labour and administrative tribunals, Steven has appeared as counsel in  numerous appeals before the Supreme Court of Canada, including litigation under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and has argued many judicial review applications and appeals before Ontario courts.

Steven also acts for trade unions and employee associations in collective bargaining negotiations, primarily in the broader public sector, including representing public sector unions and professional associations at interest arbitration. He also represents medical residents and groups of physicians in negotiations and public policy dealings with government, universities and hospitals and provides strategic advice and advocacy for unions, professional associations and central labour bodies concerning legislative and policy initiatives.

Notable constitutional cases:

R. Douglas Elliott (Roy Elliott Kim O'Connor LLP)

Douglas Elliott is a founding partner in Roy Elliott Kim O'Connor LLP. He is certified as a Specialist in civil litigation. Douglas' practice is increasingly focused on class actions and claims against government. He has been involved in some of Canada's most significant class actions, as well as leading constitutional and health law issues.

From 1993 to 1997 Douglas represented the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS) before the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada (the Krever Inquiry). He made the first of his many appearances in the Supreme Court representing CAS in its support of the Krever Inquiry in Canada v Canada (Krever Inquiry).

Douglas has instructed in civil litigation at the Bar Admission Course of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and has presented at various legal symposiums throughout Canada and abroad, including presentations to the Canadian Bar Association, Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the American Society of International Law, the International Bar Association and the University of Niigata, Japan.

Douglas was a member of the Ontario Consent and Capacity Board for 10 years. He also served as a director of the AIDS Committee of Toronto, a member of the Ontario Public Education Panel on AIDS, and a member on the National Task Force on AIDS and Injection Drug Use (representing the Canadian Bar Association). Douglas is a former member of the Science Advisory Board to Health Canada.  He was founding co chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference (SOGIC) of the Ontario Bar Association and Canadian Bar Association, and founding president of the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association. (ILGLaw) Currently, Douglas is on the board of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation and the Council of the Toronto Medico-Legal Society.

Douglas has received numerous awards of his legal work, including the Lawyer of the Year Award, presented by Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped, the Community Service Award of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, the Founders Award of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the SOGIC Hero Award of the Canadian Bar Association, the Distinguished Service Award of the Association of Lesbian and Gay Psychiatrists and the Leadership Award of the Canadian AIDS Society.

Notable constitutional cases:

Barbara Jackman (Jackman & Associates)

Barbara Jackman, B.A. Hons. (Windsor) 1972; LL.B. (Toronto) 1976, is in private practice. She was called to the bar of Ontario in 1978. Since that time the primary focus of her practice has been immigration and refugee law and related constitutional litigation.   Barbara has been a sessional lecturer at several Ontario law schools (Queen's University 1988-1990; 1991-2001, 2005-2006; Osgoode Hall, York University 1988-1989; University of Toronto 1994- 1998, 2006-2007). She has been very active in contributing to continuing education programs for the Canadian Bar Association, Law Society of Upper Canada, and at academic and community conferences on topics such as immigration law and practice, Federal Court practice, national security issues, domestic and international human rights, and practice before International Human Rights Tribunals.

Barbara has been active in a number of professional and human rights organizations, including the Immigration Section, Canadian Bar Association (section executive 1984-1990; section chair 1987-1989); Canadian Civil Liberties Association (director 1989-1996); Defence for Children International, (director 1997-2000). She has been honoured a number of times for her work in defending the human rights of non-citizens, including receiving the Ted Johnson Award, Presbyterian Church in Canada (1989); The Vince Kelly Award, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University (1993); The Arab Canadian National Award, Canadian Arab Federation (1995); Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (1998); Award of Justice, Ontario Advocates Society (2000); Award of Excellence, Sikh Centennial Foundation (2002); Law Society Medal (2003); Law Society of Upper Canada, Honourary Doctorate (2007).

During her career, Barbara has argued on behalf of parties or interveners in a number of the leading Charter of Rights cases concerning immigration and refugee matters before the Supreme Court of Canada. In recent years, she has been heavily involved in proceedings relating national security matters, including security certificates and the Arar and Iacobucci Commissions of Inquiry.

Notable Constitutional Cases:

Rabinder Singh, Q.C.  (Matrix Chambers, U.K.)

Professor Lorraine Weinrib (University of Toronto, Faculty of Law)

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