Would you like to know what we were up to in 2015? Read on...
Exciting Projects Underway
The rule of law and judicial independence have been at the heart of ICJ’s mission since its inception. We are researching best practices on judicial appointment processes in Canada and internationally in light of international norms, with a view to making concrete recommendations for improvements both in Canada and through the headquarters of ICJ in Geneva in other interested countries with ICJ Chapters around the world.
ICJC’s Quebec branch has partnered with the University of Montreal Centre for Research in Public Law to launch a new online resource, the “Observatory on national security measures”. It is a web-based resource that stores documents and follows developments related to national security measures. As it continues to grow, it will be a hub for discussion –in both of Canada’s official languages- on the risks and challenges in this area.
ICJC participated in round table discussions on the inclusion of access to justice and the rule of law in the new post-2015 sustainable development agenda, co-authored a written submission to the Minister of International Development, and hosted a panel at a Canadian Council for International Co-operation conference. With the adoption of the new and transformative 2030 Agenda this fall, ICJC looks forward to continued work in this area.
Finally, we are in the exploratory stage of developing a multi-stakeholder process of engagement to ensure Canadian corporations respect human rights in their operations abroad.
Events Across Canada
Celebrating the Magna Carta
The year 2015 was an important one, not only for ICJC as an organization, but for jurists everywhere, as it marked the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta, which remains a revered document for its embodiment of the rule of law. Its legacy endures today, and it is often considered the foundation of modern democratic societies. ICJC members had the opportunity to attend two different events celebrating the Magna Carta.
First, members were invited to a private reception and viewing of the Magna Carta at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC, featuring special guests Julia Nolan, Head of Foreign Policy of the British High Commission; the Honourable Paul Crampton, Chief Justice of the Federal Court; and Nathalie des Rosiers, Dean of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. The event was attended by over 80 judges, lawyers, and members of the general public.
Second, ICJC’s Quebec chapter hosted a professional development conference, held at the Quebec Court of Appeal in Montreal, on the impact of the Magna Carta today. An impressive list of speakers dealt with topics such as women’s rights, fundamental liberties, and jury trials, tying in the historic provisions of the Magna Carta with today’s pressing issues. Presenters included Chief Justice of Quebec Nicole Duval-Hesler, Senator Serge Joyal, criminal law lawyer Jean-Claude Hébert, and President of the Quebec Human Rights Commission Jacques Frémont.
Honouring the 2015 Tarnopolsky Award Winner: Louise Arbour
On November 5th, 2015, the ICJC recognized the Honourable Louise Arbour, C.C., G.O.Q. as this year’s recipient of the Walter S. Tarnopolsky award. The award ceremony took place in the intimate setting of the judges’ conference room of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Montréal. ICJC President Errol Mendes praised Madam Arbour as being a person who needs no introduction for most Canadians, given her outstanding contributions to justice and human rights in Canada and around the world. Attendees were privileged to listen to Madam Arbour candidly share her reflections on the state of human rights today and new approaches to global challenges.
ICJC co-hosted several speaker events this year, working with other organizations to host captivating talks. Our special guests were:
- OSCE advisor Marwan Muhammad, on tackling Islamophobia
- Justice Richard Mosley of the Federal Court, speaking on national security
- Former diplomat Robert Fowler, relating the lessons he learned from being held captive by Al Qaeda
- Ontario Court Justice Brent Knazan and lawyer Heather Neun, presenting a report on the risks faced by human rights defenders in Colombia
- Patricia Kosseim and Daniel Caron of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, discussing the implementation of national security legislation and implications for privacy
Fundraising Dinner Featuring New York Times bestseller Bill Browder
ICJC hosted Bill Browder at a sold-out dinner event in Toronto attended by over 100 guests. His acclaimed book, “Red Notice” tells the story of his experience as an international investor in Russia, where he encountered corruption and cronyism firsthand; his lawyer was murdered for exposing corruption. Ever since, Browder has been an outspoken critic of authoritarianism in Russia, and an advocate for the rule of law and human rights. His compelling presentation was followed by a thought-provoking discussion moderated by ICJC Board member, the Hon. Ian Binnie.
Building the ICJ Canada network and ensuring sustainability
The exciting activities and events we’ve undertaken over the past year have been made possible through huge amounts of largely volunteer effort. We are focused on ensuring our organization remains active and sustainable in the long term, and are prioritizing fundraising.
We are also enthusiastic about involving the next generation of jurists in our work. We have identified representatives from law faculties across the country, and look forward to growing an engaged student network.
On May 28, members of ICJ Canada had the opportunity to participate in our annual meeting, held in Ottawa. Members unable to attend were able to join the meeting by conference call.
ICJC President Errol Mendes delivered his President’s report, highlighting the considerable achievements in the first part of the year, including the transition to a new office, and the initiation of several new activities and events across Canada. He also thanked Board members Raj Anand, John Campion, David Wake, Jane O’Neill and Michael Gottheil, who would be leaving the Board, for their contributions to the organization; and welcomed the skills and expertise that the new slate of Board members would bring. The new members are Chantal Bernier, the Hon. Pierre Dalphond and Jennifer Egsgard.
Members also received a program update about the exciting new activities being spearheaded by regional VPs, heard about the potential integration of our new activities with ICJ Geneva, and were given a detailed Financial and membership report by our Secretary-Treasurer, Robin Sully.
Overall, the meeting was an excellent occasion for members to learn more about ICJ Canada’s status and activities, participate in our organization’s governance, and connect with each other.
The first part of 2015 has been a busy and exciting time for ICJ Canada. We are engaged in a process of renewal that has involved some significant changes.
Our new office is now housed on the University of Ottawa campus, in the Human Rights Research and Education Centre. This new location is ideal, as it will allow us to take advantage of the resources available in a university setting, and to strengthen partnerships with students and professors at the University of Ottawa Faculty Of Law. This location fits nicely with our intention is to grow a network of student groups across Canada; and to foster a commitment to our core values among young jurists (as well as the legal profession and Canadian society more broadly).
Our new office address and contact information is:
University of Ottawa
Suite 554 - 57 Louis Pasteur
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5
Tel : 613-562-5199
New members of our team
We have welcomed a new Executive Director to our team: Janine Lespérance. She is a lawyer with a firm commitment to promoting human rights, and shares with the Board of Directors the strong will to advance the work and deepen the impact of ICJ Canada in innovative ways.
We also have several new Board members on our roster, and invite you to view the full list.
Please feel free to get in touch with Janine our any one of our directors to find out how you can be involved in ICJ Canada’s work.
New focus areas
We have chosen to focus our current activities on four substantive theme areas that are galvanizing national and international attention: judicial appointments, business and access to justice, national security and civil liberties, and rule of law in the post-2015 international development agenda. Please visit our issues page to find out more.
To continue with these and other initiatives, we rely on the support of engaged members and donors who share our belief that our country needs a strong legal organization like ICJ Canada; one that aims to ensure that Canadian laws reflect international norms and standards, and which is part of a global network of jurists working to promote the rule of law, human rights, and the independence of the judiciary. Join us or donate today!