Susan on the Soapbox: Marie Henein’s Take on Kellie Leitch

Last Friday Ms Soapbox attended the 2017 Milvain Lecture at the U of C Law School. It was given by Marie Henein who recently made headlines by successfully defending CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi on sexual assault charges. While Ms Soapbox and Ms Henein do not see eye to eye on the Ghomeshi case, they ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Calgary Police Service: Allegations of Harassment and Intimidation

If you’ve ever wondered why women are reluctant to bring forward allegations of sexual harassment, look no further than the furor unleashed when 15 female police officers contacted city councillor and police commissioner Diane Colley-Urquhart to discuss sexual harassment and the culture of intimidation and retaliation they’d experienced at the Calgary Police Service. Ms Colley-Urquhart ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Wildrose and PCs Weigh In On Medically Assisted Dying

We’ve seen a lot of fireworks in the Alberta Legislature but nothing can match the rhetoric and misinformation that characterized the response of the Wildrose (and to a lesser extent the Progressive Conservatives) to the government’s motion to regulate medical assistance in dying. Background On Feb 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Ghomeshi’s Apology

It’s over. Yesterday Jian Ghomeshi signed a peace bond and apologized to Kathryn Borel.  The Crown dropped the sexual assault charge. Here’s Mr Ghomeshi’s apology and Ms Borel’s reply. Ghomeshi’s apology I want to apologize to Ms. Borel for my behaviour towards her in the workplace. In the last 18 months, I have spent a ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Catholic Church’s Last Chance

Suing the Catholic Church is like throwing Jello at the wall, it’s a mess but not much sticks. Thousands of Canada’s First Nations, Metis, Inuit and Inuvialuit joined in a class action seeking compensation for the abuse they suffered in Canada’s residential schools. On Nov 20, 2005, this class action was settled in the largest ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Ghomeshi Verdict: We Deserve Better

“Violence against women is not about the behavior of the women.”–Gillian Hnatiw, lawyer for Lucy DeCoutere By his own admission Jian Ghomeshi likes rough sex. The legal question is whether the three women who met Ghomeshi in 2002 and 2003 like it too. Mr Ghomeshi   Jian Ghomeshi was charged with four counts of sexual ...

Susan on the Soapbox: “Kudatah”: It’s not a joke

Ms Soapbox is deeply troubled by last week’s failed Kudatah. The Kudatah (or “coup d’etat” for those who know how to spell) was George Clark’s attempt to overthrow the NDP government. George blames the NDP for the economic downturn. He wants the old guard back. It’s not clear whether he’s referring to the old-old guard, ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Refuges? Paris? Wait, what?

What’s the difference between these two sentences? Sentence “A”: “You terrorist, you don’t belong here.” Sentence “B”: “You might be a terrorist, you don’t belong here.” Sentence “A” was uttered by two white males who attacked a 31 year old Muslim woman on her way to pick up her child from school. They ripped off ...

Susan on the Soapbox: How to Stay Under the Radar When Bill C-51 Becomes Law

Bill C-51 is an omnibus anti-terrorism bill that grants CSIS new information sharing powers and converts CSIS from a covert intelligence gathering organization to a covert enforcement agency. No wonder Canadians don’t know what the heck is going on!   Ms Soapbox is here to offer four simple suggestions to keep you out of trouble ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Ralph Nader’s Open Letter to Stephen Harper

February 18, 2015 The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P. 80 Wellington Street Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2 Dear Prime Minister: Many Americans love Canada and the specific benefits that have come to our country from our northern neighbor’s many achievements (see Canada Firsts by Nader, Conacher and Milleron). Unfortunately, your latest proposed legislation—the new anti-terrorism act—is being ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Anatomy of a Homicide Investigation

Just as Ms Soapbox was fretting over Prime Minister Harper’s decision to appoint former CSIS director Richard Fadden to the newly created post of National Security Advisor she received an invitation from Assentio Mentium. Assentio Mentium is a program offered by the U of C law school to engage lawyers, alumni, academics, business people and ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Fortress Calgary: The “Gate” in Mahogany Manor

What is it about gated communities that sends us into orbit? Calgary Planning Commission (CPC) just approved the construction of a “gate” in the southern Calgary to keep the hoi polloi out of Mahogany Manor despite the fact that the Planning Department recommended refusal. The “gate” is actually a seven foot high solid wall made ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Conservative Government Responds to the Deaths of Two Canadian Soldiers

Two Canadian soldiers were killed this week. The first, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, was run down by a car in a parking lot in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. The second, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial. Both were unarmed. On Saturday a small group of Calgarians gathered at the Central ...

Susan on the Soapbox: A Gift from Chief Justice McLachlin: The Tsilhqot’in Decision on Aboriginal Rights*

On June 26, 2014, in a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin gave the First Nations (and the rest of Canada) a treasure map. Chief Justice McLachlin It wasn’t a crumpled piece of paper covered with a cryptic scrawl, but a comprehensive legal analysis that defines the elements of ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Alberta’s “Traffic Court Reform”: One Step Closer to a Police State

Justice Minister Denis is touting “Traffic Court Reform” as a “citizen-friendly” dispute resolution process to “resolve” traffic tickets.  It’s also the first step into a quagmire that erases our civil liberties in order to save money (and help the minister meet his 2014 budget targets). The Justice minister requested “feedback” on the four principles underlying ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Where are the Ethical Lawyers?

In the last three months Albertans have witnessed a shocking display of raw power.  The Redford government calls it “delivering the responsible change Albertans voted for.”  The rest of us call it the abuse of majority power to crush the rights of environmentalists, land owners and labour unions. Black November In Nov 2013 the Supreme ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Forget “Angry Birds” Where are the Angry Canadians?

Saturday’s headline in Canada’s “newspaper of record”, The Globe and Mail, was not “Harper government caught spying on Canadians” but “Rob Ford admits jaywalking ticket in Vancouver”.  Are you kidding me??? Let’s review the week, shall we? Angry Birds It started with Edward Snowden revealing that American and British spy agencies target smartphone applications like ...

Susan on the Soapbox: 145 Children Die in Government Care; but 89 Don’t Count

               “WHEREAS the Government of Alberta recognizes that children and youth are our greatest resource…blah blah blah”—Child and Youth Advocate Act  One hundred and forty five children died in government care since 1999.  The government reported 56 deaths.  The rest sank below the radar because they were the result of “natural causes”. But the numbers ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Strike While the Iron is Hot: The Edmonton Remand Centre Labour Dispute

For years I’ve wondered whether unions had outlived their usefulness and were simply using their collective bargaining power to crank up wages and benefits at the expense of…well…who knows what.  But the wildcat strike arising out of the Edmonton Remand Centre labour dispute proved me wrong. Edmonton Remand Centre The Edmonton Remand Centre is the ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Face of Terrorism

I’ve been to Washington DC many times, but this trip was different.  In addition to the usual buzz created by lobbyists, bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen who had places to go and people to see, there was a sense of unease.  This feeling of foreboding was evident in the police cars parked on the street corners ...

Susan on the Soapbox: What Would It Take to Make you Plead Guilty? Alberta Revamps Traffic Court

What would it take to make you plead guilty to a crime you didn’t commit?  One hundred dollars?  One thousand dollars?  Need more information? Okay, what if the crime isn’t serious?  And if you plead guilty you can avoid the hassle of driving downtown, parking in an expensive lot, going through airport-style security and lollygagging ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Price of Justice in Alberta: One Free Crime

On March 17, 2013, Alison Redford’s PC government broke the back of justice…and none of us saw it coming. Lady Justice, or Justitia, is the personification of the justice system.  Her blindfold symbolizes objectivity, her scales symbolize the balance between truth and fairness and her double-edged sword demonstrates that reason and justice that can be ...