Ontario’s criminal lawyers waged a heated and lengthy battle with the provincial government over legal aid rates last year, boycotting homicide and guns-and-gangs cases. After eight months of conflict, the provincial government in January agreed to increase lawyers’ tariffs, pledging a five-per-cent raise for each of the next seven years. The defence bar rejoiced at the news that lawyers would no longer have to take on the most serious of cases at a monetary loss, all costs considered. What few know, however, is that it might never have happened without Marie Henein.
Sometime prior to 7 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2009, a man stood on a road bridge overlooking the Don Valley in east-end downtown Toronto. Apparently wracked with despair and shame, he climbed up and over and leapt into oblivion. The 39-year-old lawyer died in the gravel down below, leaving a slew of unanswered questions in his wake.
Personal injury lawyer and former Quebec justice minister Marc Bellemare thought he’d seen the summit of injustice 20 years ago, when a drunken army corporal who killed four young people during a high-speed chase through a Quebec City suburb received $86,000 in indemnities for a lost eye — twice the amount the victims’ grieving families got in total.
If there is a battle being waged over the tenets of Canada’s Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the ground where the fight is taking place could very well be in labour and employment law. In recent years, the Supreme Court of Canada has been called upon to decide on myriad constitutional challenges, including the Charter obligations of jurisdictions or employers.
He hails from Five Islands, a small community overlooking the Bay of Fundy on the coast of Nova Scotia; an idyllic setting where most of the town’s 300 or so residents lead a relatively simple life. Yet Purdy Crawford, fueled with drive and ambition, early on in his career decidedly ensured his life would be anything but simple.