The Top 25 Most Influential 2017 - Human Rights

  • Subtitle: Cover Story
Written by  Tim Wilbur and Mallory Hendry Posted Date: August 8, 2017

Human Rights, Advocacy and Criminal

Raj Anand Partner, WeirFoulds LLP Toronto

Raj Anand is a bencher at the Law Society of Upper Canada. As co-chairman of the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees working group, Anand presented the group’s final report to Convocation on Dec. 2, 2016 and obtained the approval of the Law Society of Upper Canada. The 13 recommendations in the report are designed to assist the profession in combatting systemic racism and discrimination. Over the previous year, Anand also acted as Constitutional Litigator in Residence at the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, representing the centre in a number of high-profile cases, including as an intervener at the Supreme Court of Canada in the constitutional test case of Jessica Ernst v. Alberta Energy Regulator.

What voters had to say:

“Raj is an exceptional lawyer and advocate."

Eric Gottardi Partner, Peck & Co. Barristers Vancouver

Eric Gottardi represented Barrett Richard Jordan in R. v. Jordan, a landmark case in criminal court delay that has become a catalyst for change in the legal world, causing there to be caps placed on how long a case can get delayed in the courts. He was at the forefront fighting for the rights of his client and sent change rippling through the legal realm. In 2016, he was also counsel for the Canadian Bar Association at the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Lloyd, a constitutional challenge to the mandatory minimum sentence regime for drug trafficking.

What voters had to say:

“Eric is a brilliant lawyer whose compassion and commitment to his work and his clients shines through.”

Julie Macfarlane Professor, University of Windsor Windsor

Julie Macfarlane launched a self-rep website, the National Self-Represented Litigants Project, and published the newest report, “Intake Report of the National Self-Represented Litigants,” in 2015-16. This year, she launched the National Database of Professionals Assisting SRLs. Macfarlane, along with other members of the NSRLP team, drafted two submissions to the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Law Society of Upper Canada in support of Justice Annemarie Bonkalo’s “Family Legal Services Review Report” in Ontario. For the first time, National Action Committee members — leaders in the legal profession, members of the bench, justice system policymakers and those providing A2J services — had the opportunity to work directly with SRLs at a Vancouver meeting of the committee on March 22. The NSRLP was an intervenor in Pintea v. Johns, a case before the Supreme Court of Canada in April where the court determined a self-represented litigant was not in contempt of court for failing to appear at conferences after the court sent notices to his old address.

What voters had to say:

“Professor Julie Macfarlane’s work has given all self-represented litigants hope. Her ground-breaking work is paving the way toward new options for the legal consumer.”

Renu Mandhane Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission Toronto

Renu Mandhane has reinvigorated the OHRC. As the chief commissioner, she has been a vocal, courageous and ardent advocate on issues of racial profiling, carding, police oversight, indigenous rights and the rights of people who are differently abled. She’s been in the media steadily, commenting on these issues. Her calls for change are also largely what blew open the story of Adam Capay, the young indigenous man who had been in indefinite solitary confinement with the lights on 24/7 for more than four years. In May, it was announced the OHRC is considering legal action over solitary confinement. Mandhane also makes time to continue supporting the students she taught at the University of Toronto as director of the International Human Rights Program and is not afraid to engage with opposing viewpoints, both in person and on Twitter.

What voters had to say:

“Renu is a champion of the disenfranchised and has a strong sense of justice.”

“She’s the voice of the new Canada — voicing effectively issues key to make human rights a reality.”

Pamela Williams Chief Judge, Provincial and Family Courts of Nova Scotia Halifax

Pamela Williams is also the presiding judge in Nova Scotia’s mental health court. She spearheaded an initiative to help veterans in trouble with the law. The Veterans Justice Outreach Initiative is the first project of its kind in Canada. The goal of the initiative is to better identify, track and explore alternatives to incarceration. A successful implementation in Nova Scotia will allow Veterans Affairs Canada to pursue similar partnerships in provinces and territories across the country. Williams has also spoken out on the use of options such as cultural assessment reports to help with the overrepresentation of indigenous and black Nova Scotians in the provincial jails. In response to the Jordan decision, Williams, through her work on the provinces Criminal Justice Transformation Group, helped launch a pilot project that encourages prosecutors in the Halifax area to find speedy and appropriate resolution of less serious crimes, freeing up time in court for more serious and complex matters. The pilot project could expand to more serious crimes in the future.

What voters had to say:

“Transforms vision into reality.”

“Unflagging commitment to making the justice system better for everyone.”

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+1 # Mr.Kelvin h 2017-08-08 11:26
It's a shame Richard Mclaren didn't make the list, his report on doping in Russia was definitely drew the most international attention and made the most international impact in terms of work done by a Canadian lawyer.
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