What Happens to the Rule of Law During a Pandemic?

Tuesday, November 9, 2021 13:00to14:30
Zoom: https://mcgill.zoom.us/j/83223079813

The Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism and Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg welcome Michael Bryant (he/him), Executive Director & General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, for a timely and challenging talk on how how COVID-19 has exposed Canada’s precarious system of judicial review and public interest litigation. Professor Pearl Eliadis, BCL'85, LLB'85, of the Max Bell School, will act as moderator. The opening remarks will be given by Nick Rodrigo, Partner, Davies.

We thank Davies for their sponsorship and support.

Michael Bryant was the 35th Attorney General of Ontario (2003-07), when that province passed its emergency management legislation that initially applied during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2018, he has led the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, a premier watchdog of domestic laws and regulations, and a frequent litigator before the Supreme Court of Canada. It is with both perspectives that Bryant critiques our system of judicial review in Canada, particularly during the pandemic, and what happens to the rule of law in an emergency. He argues that the judicial branch is the runt of Canada’s constitutional litter, permitting governments and legislatures to operate without sufficient constitutional scrutiny.

About the speaker

Michael Bryant was born and raised in B.C., studied at UBC (BA, MA), Osgoode Hall Law School (JD) and Harvard University (LLM). He clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada for Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, and then taught at King’s College, London (UK), U of T and Osgoode Hall. Before and after serving a decade as provincial Member of Parliament in Ontario, he practised law at McCarthy Tetrault LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. Bryant was recently a public defender and defence counsel to indigent and indigenous people, and has published books on criminal law and public law. Father to a daughter who studies at McGill and a son at high school in Toronto, Bryant was named by Canadian Lawyer in 2019 as a Top 25 Most Influential in Canada’s justice sector.

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