Access to Justice: save the Court Challenges Program and the Law Commission of Canada

Monday, July 26 2010

On Thursday the 23rd of November, the Law Union of Ontario, in coalition with other concerned organizations such as the National Action Coalition on the Status of Women, local anti-poverty organizers, the Osgoode Hall Women's Caucus, concerned law school faculty and members of the progressive legal community demonstrated our dismay at the Conservative government's elimination of the Court Challenges Program and the Law Commission of Canada by rallying outside the National Club where Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was giving an address to members of Toronto's elite legal community. The event was highly successful in renewing media interest in the impact of these regressive cuts (see the article from Friday's Toronto Star below). We strongly urge you to help us build upon this momentum by writing letters to the Editor in support of the campaign to save our important national legal institutions.

Thursday's event was a vital step in this ongoing campaign, building on the work of hundreds of legal aid clinics, law students, social justice organizations and individuals, to save the Court Challenges Program and the Law Commission. We will continue to pressure the government for the restoration of this funding until we are successful. To get involved with the campaign, or for further information, please contact the Students, Recent Graduates and Legal Workers working group of the Law Union of Ontario at

Protestors target Flaherty for axing court challenges program Nov. 24, 2006. 01:00 AM. Armed with signs demanding "Access to Justice," protestors attempted to disrupt Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's visit to the National Club last night, decrying his axing of the Court Challenges Program. The federal government calls the $2.85 million-a-year program an "inefficient" use of tax dollars.

But protestors said it helped open a highly expensive justice system to disadvantaged Canadians and minorities. The program funded test cases on behalf of people who felt their equality and language rights had been violated.

It was the only program of its kind. Provincial legal aid programs, battling their own financial problems, long ago stopped funding civil cases. "We're really treating this as an access-to-justice issue," said Estair Van Wagner, 28, a second-year student at Osgoode Hall Law School, who helped organize the demonstration.

It was perhaps the first time the words "access to justice" were used as a political rallying cry and one of the few protests to feature placards with the names of famous cases funded by the program. It was also part of a burgeoning social justice movement, fuelled in part by law students, who don't want to inherit a justice system that revolves around money.

"We're dedicated to entering the legal profession as a venue for creating social change, as a venue for improving access to justice," Van Wagner said.


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