“Modernizing Our Family Law System” – Report

The Manitoba government has just released a report titled Modernizing Our Family Law System, by Manitoba’s Family Law Reform Committee. The 10 page report, followed by 4 pages of appendices, is written in plain English, befitting the audience it is intended for. The Committee suggests a three year pilot project.

Our model would by legislation, require all matters proceeding
under the Family Maintenance Act to be commenced by
an application form which would be simple enough that an
individual could complete it with or without the assistance
of a lawyer.


While restricting this pilot project to Family Maintenance Act
matters will significantly limit the scope of this initiative, we
believe there will be a large volume of matters, sufficient to
test the effectiveness of this approach during the pilot phase.

The Committee was formed in the fall of 2017, and completed their report in record time, as mandated by Justice Minister Stefanson.

As many studies have noted, the adversarial court system does not work well for family law matters. Families must continue to work together after divorce and custody issues are taken care of. We will be watching for the government to introduce legislation to enable this project, and keep you informed when it has been released.

News Release: Family Law Modernization Report Recommends Innovative Pilot Project to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families

Both ‘opportunity’ and loss for lawyers in revamp of Manitoba family law

Supreme Court of Canada on Civility in the Courtroom

The Court just released its decision on Groia v. The Law Society of Upper Canada, 2018 SCC 27, clarifying the test for when a lawyer’s conduct in the courtroom becomes professional misconduct.

In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice  Moldaver, the Court laid out the framework under which lawyers can provide a vigorous defence of their clients. While the Court agreed the law society’s appeal panel adopted the correct test for a finding of professional misconduct, they disagreed with the application.

Since this decision was just released on June 1st, there will be more commentary to come. Keep checking CanLII Connects for more news.

Additional Commentary: 

The Lawyers Daily: SCC rules Groia not guilty, sets test for when lawyers’ incivility in court becomes professional misconduct

Supreme Advocacy

Slaw: “A Trial is not a Tea Party,” is What They will Say by Omar Ha-Redeye


Ottawa Proposes Changes to the Divorce Act-Updated

The Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson Raybould, recently introduced Bill C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act. This is the first major overhaul to the Divorce Act since the child support guidelines were enacted in 1997.

Some of the reforms included in the Bill include:

  • Establishing a framework for relocating a child;
  • Fleshing out the term “best interest of the child”;
  • Provide for orders requiring contact with a child for another person, e.g. a grandparent.

The federal government has been consulting with members of the family bar and other stakeholders for the past two years in preparation for this bill.

Commentary from The Lawyers Daily: Bar Gives Good Initial Reviews

A Brief Overview of Bill C-78, Part 2, by John-Paul Boyd

A Brief Overview of Bill C-78, Part 1, by John-Paul Boyd


Gladue Reports Database coming…in Saskatchewan

Gladue reports are pre-sentencing or bail hearing reports which take into account Indigenous offenders’ background on sentencing. They stem from a landmark 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision. The University of Saskatchewan has developed a research database to assist Gladue report writers by making them easier and less costly to prepare. Access to the database is by subscription, which revenue will be used to hire students to update the database.

The new Gladue Rights Research Database provides lawyers, researchers and others with instant access to the insights and conclusions of more than 500 academic works related to the history of settler colonialism in Saskatchewan. It also includes a large and growing body of oral history resources and key archival documents.

Robson Hall at the University of  Manitoba has developed a Gladue Handbook to help report writers in Manitoba.

This is a really interesting and exciting development for the protection of Gladue rights.

News release from University of Saskatchewan


Access to Justice Conference in Winnipeg

Experts are meeting this week for Accessing Justice: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Access, Justice, Law and Order at the University of Winnipeg, May 9-11, 2018.

The University of Winnipeg’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Justice Studies is hosting a public conference beginning Wednesday that will bring together academics, human rights and legal experts, as well as Manitoba Queen’s Bench Justice Colleen Suche. [Winnipeg Free Press, p. B1, May 7, 2018] (subscription required)

Topics range from accessing legal professionals and legal services to the effects of decolonialization for identity and migration.

The full program is available here.