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Dal law students pass resolution opposing Bill C-10

|Written By Julie Sobowale
Dal law students pass resolution opposing Bill C-10
Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law

Dalhousie law students decided to take a stand against Bill C-10, The Safe Streets and Communities Act. On Dec. 5, students voted in favour of joining the Canadian Bar Association in opposing the bill.

More than 60 students attended the Dalhousie Law Students’ Society general meeting. The resolution calls for the LSS to release a public statement opposing the bill and encouraging other law student societies to take action.

“As student leaders, we’re here to support students the best way we can,” says LSS president Scott Lennox. “We wanted to take a stand with our collective voices.”

Dan Manchee, a second-year representative on the LSS board of directors, proposed the resolution at an LSS board meeting Nov. 21. He says he wanted students involved in advocating for human rights.

“I wanted to get students participating in the debate,” says Manchee. “Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ We have to try to do something. This action could pay off over time more than we think.”

Dal students are not the only ones voicing their opinion. University of Windsor law students hosted a public forum Nov. 23 and held a letter-writing campaign against the bill. Students also presented a letter to Dave McKenzie, chairman of the House of Commons standing committee on justice and human rights.

“Anytime young people are speaking out in non-violent ways is good,” says Trinda Ernst, president of the CBA. “We need to encourage young people to get involved and be knowledgeable about the legal system.”

Bill C-10 is a comprehensive criminal reform bill aimed at increasing minimal jail sentences for various offences and decreasing the availability of conditional sentences. Various groups have publicly denounced the bill including the Canadian Psychiatric Association and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

“The bill goes against reason, fact, and experience,” says Alayna Kolodziechuk, a third-year Dal law student. “A majority government should not be an excuse to bully bad policy through to law, and I am embarrassed and disheartened by the government’s failure to properly consult experts and stakeholders.”

The CBA completed a 100-page report outlining the negative consequences of the bill. In the list of 10 reasons to oppose the bill, the CBA points out the bill’s adverse effects on the mentally ill, Aboriginal Peoples, and youth. Research has shown programs aimed at child poverty, mental health programs, diverting youth away from adult incarceration, and prisoner rehabilitation are more likely to reduce crime.

“This goes far beyond politics,” says second-year law student Chelsey Roy. “The scientific and statistical evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this new legislation will cause more harm than it will prevent.”

Students hope that their public statement will make a difference.

“As future members of the legal profession, we are in a particularly unique position to take a stand against this,” says Roy. “I hope other law student societies across the country will at least consider doing the same.”

Julie Sobowale is a third-year law student at Dalhousie University.

  • Another disaster from Halifax

    another Dal law grad
    The picture of the rusty-as-an-anchor eyesore in front of the newly re-badged Schulich school of law pretty well sums it up" plus que cela change, plus que cela reste la meme chose.
    It was an eyesore twenty years ago, long before the school sold its heritage to Schulich. Student politics persists to be led by the fringe crowd, no change there, either. Hopefully the rest of the legal community will remember their days in school, and the odd ball so-called leaders of student politics.
    As an aside, selling the name of the school was not a decision made by a majority vote either. It reminded one of the old saw about a woman who was propositioned for a million dollars. On responding in the affirmative, she was asked whether she would "put out" for ten dollars.
    What do you think I am? she asked.
    The reply could have come from Herr Schulich himself: we already KNOW what you are, dear. Now we are just setting the price.
  • RE: Dal law students pass resolution opposing Bill C-10

    John Lieberman
    This doesn't seem like a very fair resolution to me.
  • RE: Dal law students pass resolution opposing Bill C-10

    Jon Hein
    This is an absolute ridiculous abuse of power by this student group. Clearly it seems they snuck this resolution through by having a debate during a busy exam time when all the students go. Furthermore, how about the student group deal with STUDENT issues, and not force political opinions down everyone's' throat.
  • RE: Dal law students pass resolution opposing Bill C-10

    In response to those of you who seem to have such a problem with this: more than adequate notice was given to the ENTIRE student body about the meeting in question, including posters and email reminders. the online discussion leading up to the meeting was extremely heated and everyone around school was well aware of what was going on and when the vote would be held. unfortunately only 64 people showed (which is still more than 3 times quorum, by the way), but the debate nonetheless was lengthy and passionate from both sides of the argument, and then we voted. if people choose not to participate in a democracy, they can't then turn around and complain that the decisions made were undemocratic.
  • RE: RE: Dal law students pass resolution opposing Bill C-10

    Dean Bricks
    Yeah, adequate notice of a the midst of exams. Real smooth move, Stalin.
  • RE: Dal law students pass resolution opposing Bill C-10

    Fred Norris
    This is unreal. How can a small group of students dare think they speak for a whole student body? This is borderline shameful behavior from the LSS, who have stepped way over the line. They can't dictate how the ENTIRE cshool feels.
  • RE: Dal law students pass resolution opposing Bill C-10

    George Takai
    Like this makes a difference at all? It was a bunch of students who were so mad about this bill--did they even ask all the students what they felt, or did one group speak for all of them?
  • Dal Law Grad

    Dal Law Grad
    I have never been so ashamed to be a Dal Law grad.
    The LSS should know its role and stick to issues within the law school. Attempting to take a position on behalf of all students is offensive and inappropriate. Perhaps if the school weren't such a mess, the LSS could justify having so little to do that it could participate in partisan politics. However, given the sorry state of the school's governance and its rapidly declining appeal, I think there are more pressing issues to focus on.
    This complete disregard for the disparate views of Dal Law students is sadly becoming all too typical of a school that preaches respect and diversity, but does not practice it.
    Congratulations to the LSS on this futile gesture that will surely make Dal Law a point of ridicule to those who notice. The only thing more hilarious than the hyperbole in the students quoted in this article is the fact that they think they are making a difference.
  • Dal Law '04

    Way to go guys!