The Top 25 Most Influential - Criminal Law/Human Rights
- Subtitle: Cover Story
CRIMINAL LAW/HUMAN RIGHTS
Justice Rosalie Abella
Judge, Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa
Since being appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004, Justice Rosalie Abella has become known for her strong presence on the bench, particularly when pushing the limits of Canada’s human rights laws. Abella was the sole dissenter in the 2012 case of R. v. N.S., where she argued that requiring a witness to remove her niqab would effectively force her to choose between her religious beliefs and participating in the justice system. In her dissent, Abella likened the religious face coverings to those “who are unable to testify under ideal circumstances because of visual, oral, or aural impediments.” Abella has been setting a high bar for the profession since 1976 when, at the age of 29 and while pregnant, she became the first Jewish woman and the youngest Canadian to be made a judge. With reasonable accommodation issues at the forefront of Canadian society, Abella remains an incredibly influential figure in the profession.
What the panel had to say: “Justice Abella has always had and continues to have a deep commitment to human rights that influences the nation.”
Partner, Arvay Finlay
From the right to die, to aboriginal rights and civil liberties, Joseph Arvay seems to be at the centre of every legal story of significance in Canada. In 2012, Arvay argued a constitutional challenge to Canada’s sex worker laws before the Supreme Court of Canada. He worked with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association to have assisted suicide decriminalized. He has fought to defend Insight, Vancouver’s safe-injection site, and the rights of children of sperm donors. Last fall, he was the Asper Centre’s inaugural constitutional-litigator-in-residence as well as a visiting clinical practitioner in residence at Osgoode Hall Law School. Arvay has been on the Top 25 for the past three years.
What the panel had to say: “Arvay never shies away from taking on divisive and socially controversial cases in his pursuit of civil liberties and human rights.”
Partner, Greenspan Humphrey Lavine, Toronto
Brian Greenspan continues to play a significant role in Canadian criminal law. Before the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Ryan, Greenspan helped redefine the scope of the defence of duress now available to all accused. He is also lead counsel for the Ontario Provincial Police Association in Schaeffer v. Wood, where the Supreme Court will determine whether the notes of a police officer under investigation should be vetted by a lawyer prior to being formally documented in police records. Greenspan also gave the speech at June’s call to the bar in Toronto, where he also received an honourary doctorate from the Law Society of Upper Canada. Greenspan appeared in the very first Top 25 in 2010.
What voters had to say: “Obviously, these brief statements do not do justice to Brian’s influence and power.”
Professor, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, Ottawa
Joseph Magnet has long been one of Canada’s foremost constitutional scholars. In the past year, his work has paid off for some of Canada’s most disadvantaged and neglected minorities. In the landmark decision Daniels v. Canada, together with co-counsel Andrew Lokan — also a Top 25 nominee — Magnet persuaded the Federal Court that Métis and non-status Indians are indeed “Indians” according to the Constitution. Magnet has also been active advancing minority rights in East Africa. Since 2010, he has been working pro bono for the Afar people, a minority in northern Ethiopia, advising them on a series of constitutional and human rights issues.
What voters had to say: “Many of the most challenging aboriginal constitutional law cases end up on his desk because of his reputation for taking on tough cases.”
Associate professor, Ryerson University Department of Politics and Public Administration, Toronto
Pam Palmater is a Mi’kmaq lawyer whose family originates from the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick. As the chair in Indigenous Governance and academic director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson, she has had a huge impact on aboriginal governance issues. Following her unsuccessful race last year for the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations, Palmater took centre stage during the Idle No More protests that shook the leadership of AFN rival Shawn Atleo. By bringing her message to both the mainstream and social media, Palmater has been challenging Canadians to think seriously about aboriginal issues.
What voters had to say: “This is an honourable, brave woman who serves her people in the area of justice in an unjust society.”
Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: Top 5 in Corporate-Commercial Law
Page 3: Top 5 Changemakers
Page 5: Top 5 in Government/Non-Profits/Associations
Page 6: Top 5 In-House Counsel
One of Canada’s most experienced and respected legal journalists, Gail J. Cohen is the former editor in chief of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, who was responsible for the editorial direction of all the publications in the group, which also includes Candian Lawyer InHouse, Canadian Lawyer 4Students, and the daily Legal Feeds blog. Gail has covered the legal profession in Canada as a reporter and editor since 1997, which had put her in a prime position to access and engage thought leaders in the regulatory, legal, and business realms. Canadian Lawyer and its editorial team have been the recipients of many journalism awards and their publications are highly respected throughout the legal profession in Canada and abroad.