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Litigation Expertise

Practice Areas > Constitutional Litigation

Constitutional Litigation

Canada’s constitution is our most basic law. It sets out the framework for all government powers, and for our most fundamental and cherished human rights, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Lawyers at Paliare Roland have acted on many constitutional cases of national importance. We have long associations with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and other public interest organizations such as Friends of the Earth, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Métis National Council, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and various specialized legal aid clinics. We have also acted for trade unions, professional regulatory bodies, individuals, companies, and governments facing constitutional issues. We have helped to advance and develop key rights such as freedom of association for agricultural workers and government employees, freedom of expression, and equality rights for the marginalized.

Constitutional cases raise fundamental issues, but can be among the most complex and specialized of all cases to bring forward. The lawyers at Paliare Roland have the expertise and experience to take them on, and an unparalleled track record of success for our clients.

  • Lawyers
  • Representative Work
    • Andrew Lokan and Michael Fenrick are representing three migrant farm workers who are trying to increase the constitutional protections afforded to workers employed in Ontario through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program.

    • Andrew Lokan and Lindsay Scott represented the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and individual litigants in Daniels v. HMQ at the Federal Court, seeking a declaration that the Federal Government is constitutionally responsible for approximately 600,000 Métis and Non-Status Indians, under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. The decision is currently on reserve at the Federal Court.
    • Linda Rothstein, Andrew Lokan and Michael Fenrick represented the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in R. v. Bedford, 2012 ONCA 186 in which the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down substantially all of the Criminal Code provisions regulating prostitution in Canada.
    • Andrew Lokan, Massimo Starnino and Michael Fenrick represented the Foundation for the Advancement of Investor Rights in the Reference re Securities Act, 2011 SCC 66 respecting the constitutionality of proposed federal securities legislation.
    • Ian Roland and Michael Fenrick appeared at the Supreme Court of Canada in the appeal of Fraser v. Ontario (Attorney-General), 2011 SCC 20 on behalf of the interveners, the Canadian Police Association (CPA). The CPA supported the Appellant's position that s. 2(d) of the Charter protects a process of collective bargaining that includes a dispute resolution mechanism.
    • Michael Fenrick was co-counsel to Professor Kent Roach of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law on behalf of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in the first three appeals to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada respecting the constitutionality of the anti-terrorism offences in the Criminal Code.
    • R v. Nasogaluak, 2010 SCC 6 where Andrew Lokan and Danny Kastner represented the Canadian Civil Liberties Association at the Supreme Court of Canada and successfully argued that sentence reductions, even below mandatory minimum sentences, ought to be available as a remedy for unconstitutional state conduct in the criminal justice process.

    • Ian Roland, Jean-Claude Killey and Michael Fenrick acted on behalf of the intervener, the Canadian Police Association, in the Mounted Police Association of Ontario's successful Charter challenge of the statutory exclusion of RCMP officers from collective bargaining legislation in Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada (Attorney General), 2009 CanLII 15149 (Ont. S.C.). The Attorney-General of Canada's appeal was heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal.
    • Ian Roland, Emily Lawrence and Danny Kastner intervened on behalf of the Ontario Police Association in R. v. McNeil, 2009 SCC 3, the Supreme Court’s most recent consideration of third-party disclosure obligations.

    • In R v. Ferguson, 2008 SCC 6, Andrew Lokan and Nini Jones represented the Canadian Civil Liberties Association at the Supreme Court of Canada and argued that mandatory minimum sentences for unlawful act manslaughter violate s.12 of the Charter, and that constitutional exemptions may be an appropriate remedy where the mandatory minimum would result in a grossly disproportionate sentence.
    • In 2011, Andrew Lokan and Jodi Martin acted for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association as interveners before the Federal Court in a constitutional challenge to the hate speech provision (section 13) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The decision in Lemire v. Canadian Human Rights Commission is pending.

      In 2011, Andrew Lokan and Jodi Martin appeared at the Supreme Court of Canada, on behalf of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, in Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v. William Whatcott. The CCLA supported the respondent's position that section 14 of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Act violates section 2(b) of the Charter. Andrew Lokan also appeared twice at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Whatcott v. Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses, 2008 SKCA 6 and Whatcott v. Saskatchewan (Human Rights Tribunal), 2010 SKCA 26.

    • Rob Centa was involved in the successful challenge to the constitutionality of the federal security certificate regime, on behalf of our clients the International Human Rights Clinic at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto and Human Rights Watch, who intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Charkaoui, Harkat, and Almrei, 2007 SCC 9 cases.
    • In Broomer et al. v. Ontario, Rob Centa represented the CCLA in a constitutional challenge to the life-time ban on receipt of welfare benefits for individuals convicted of welfare fraud.
    • In Jehovah's Witnesses v. Village of Lafontaine, 2004 SCC 48, Andrew Lokan and Megan Shortreed represented the Canadian Civil Liberties Association as an intervener at the Supreme Court of Canada in respect of a challenge to the decision of a municipality to deny permission to a religious group to build a church.
    • In Mussani v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, 2003 CanLII 45308 (Ont. Div. Ct.), Linda Rothstein and Rob Centa acted for the College of Nurses of Ontario in successfully defending the constitutionality of legislation mandating the revocation of a health practitioner's licence where the practitioner sexually abused a patient. The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the legislation's constitutionality in 2004 CanLII 48653 (O.C.A.).

    • In R. v. Malmo-Levine, 2003 SCC 74, Andrew Lokan and Andrew Lewis represented the Canadian Civil Liberties Association as an intervener at the Supreme Court of Canada in respect of a challenge to the criminal prohibition of the possession of cannabis.
    • In Dunmore v. Ontario2001 SCC 94, Chris Paliare successfully argued at the Supreme Court of Canada that the total exclusion of agricultural workers from Ontario's collective bargaining regime contravened the Charter.

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