2018 News

December 31, 2018 by CrimSL Communications

A History of Law in Canada, Vol. 1

December 17, 2018

Dr. Philip Girard, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School who has been a Visiting Professor here at CrimSL for the last year and a half, and Dr. Jim Phillips, cross-appointed to CrimSL from U of T Faculty of Law and a former director the Centre, have recently published a book with Dr. R. Blake Brown, a professor in the Department of History and Atlantic Canada Studies at Saint Mary’s University. A History of Law in Canada, Vol. 1: Beginnings to 1866 was published by University of Toronto Press this November, and will be available as an ebook later this week. 

From the publisher: 

This book is the first of two volumes devoted to the history of law in Canada. This volume begins at a time just prior to European contact and continues to the 1860s, while volume two will start with Confederation and end at approximately 2000. The history of law includes substantive law, legal institutions, legal actors and legal culture. The book assumes that since 1500 there have been three legal systems in Canada – the Indigenous, the French, and the English. At all times, these systems have co-existed and interacted, with the relative power and influence of each being more or less dominant in different periods. 

The history of law cannot be treated in isolation, and this book examines law as a dynamic process, shaped by and affecting other histories over the long term. The law guided and was guided by economic developments, was influenced and moulded by the nature and trajectory of political ideas and institutions, and variously exacerbated and mediated by inter-cultural exchange and conflict. These themes are apparent in this examination, and through most areas of law including family law, constitutional, commercial, land settlement and tenure, and criminal.

OHRC Interim Report on Race and Policing

December 13, 2018

On Monday, December 10th, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released an interim report on race and policing. “A Collective Impact: Interim report on the inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service” includes as one of its section the Wortley Report, a preliminary report by CrimSL Professor Scot Wortley, which provides a preliminary analysis of police use of force cases investigated by the Government of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

From the Wortley Report’s introduction: 

The study is designed to address the following five research questions with respect to the TPS:

  1. To what extent are Black people represented in police use of force incidents?

  2. To what extent are Black people represented in police use of force cases – including police shootings?

  3. To what extent do cases involving Black civilians differ from cases involving civilians from other racial groups?

  4. What proportion of SIU investigations result in criminal charges against police officers?

  5. What proportion of SIU cases experience problems with police cooperation? 

There has been extensive coverage of the OHRC report in local, national, and international media. Professor Wortley, CrimSL PhD grad and instructor Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, and PhD student Julius Haag have made television, radio, and print appearances regarding the report. The list below will be updated as coverage continues: 

Scot Wortley: 

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah: 

Julius Haag: 


Mariana Valverde on Waterfront Toronto, Sidewalk Labs, and Toronto’s Quayside Development

December 12, 2018

Professor Mariana Valverde has published a series of blog posts for Ryerson’s Centre for Free Expression on Waterfront Toronto, Google’s Sidewalk Labs, and the development of Toronto’s Quayside district: 

[Note: List to be updated as series progresses]

December 3rd, 2018: “Mystery on the Waterfront: How the “Smart City” Allure Led a Major Public Agency in Toronto Into a Reckless Deal with Big Tech” cowritten with Alexandra Flynn 

December 4th, 2018: “Public Lands, Private Control, and Housing Needs in the “Smart City” Quayside Development“ 

December 7th, 2018: “The waterfront toronto crisis: what are the options?” cowritten with Nabeel Ahmed

January 14th, 2019: “What Is a Data Trust and Why Are We Even Talking About It? Sidewalk Labs’ Magic Tricks

February 19, 2019: “Toronto’s Leadership Dithers While Sidewalk Labs Plans City Revenue Grab

May 13, 2019: “Google’s “Urban Data” Plan: Evading Regulation While Promoting the Appearance of Transparency

July 2, 2019: “The Google ‘Smart City’ Plan: Financial Language of Hi-Tech Colonialism


Law and the “Sharing Economy”: Regulating Online Market Platforms

November 27, 2018

CrimSL Professor Mariana Valverde has authored a chapter in a new book published today by University of Ottawa Press. Law and the “Sharing Economy” Regulating Online Market Platforms, edited by Derek McKee, Finn Makela, and Teresa Scassa, looks at the so-called “sharing economy” and the regulation of the technological platforms on which it operates. 

Professor Valverde’s chapter, “Urban Cowboy E-Capitalism Meets Dysfunctional Municipal Policy-Making: What the Uber Story Tells Us about Canadian Local Governance” looks at Canadian cities and the challenges of regulating Uber: 

When Uber began operating in Canadian cities without first seeking approval from municipal licensing authorities, and taxi drivers started to protest in large numbers, municipal authorities were faced with an unprecedented law-breaking situation. Some mayors, such as Toronto’s John Tory, responded not by defending municipal regulation but by praising ‘innovation’. This article looks at how Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal dealt with the regulatory crisis posed by Uber. It concludes that only provincial governments have both the legal powers and the political muscle to develop ride-sharing company regulations that simultaneously protect the public interest, drivers’ economic wellbeing, and the licenced taxi industry. 

Other contributors include: Harry Arthurs (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University), Francesco Ducci (University of Toronto Faculty of Law), Gautrais Vincent (Université de Montréal Faculty of Law), Sabrina Tremblay-Huet (Université de Sherbrooke Faculty of Law), Michael Geist (University of Ottawa Faculty of Law), Marie-Cecile Escande Varniol (Université Lumière Lyon 2), Eric Tucker (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University), and Nofar Sheffi (University of New South Wales Law). 

From the publisher: 

Controversy shrouds sharing economy platforms. It stems partially from the platforms’ economic impact, which is felt most acutely in certain sectors: Uber drivers compete with taxi drivers; Airbnb hosts compete with hotels. Other consequences lie elsewhere: Uber is associated with a trend toward low-paying, precarious work, whereas Airbnb is accused of exacerbating real estate speculation and raising the cost of long-term rental housing. 

While governments in some jurisdictions have attempted to rein in the platforms, technology has enabled such companies to bypass conventional regulatory categories, generating accusations of “unfair competition” as well as debates about the merits of existing regulatory regimes. Indeed, the platforms blur a number of familiar distinctions, including personal versus commercial activity; infrastructure versus content; contractual autonomy versus hierarchical control. These ambiguities can stymie legal regimes that rely on these distinctions as organizing principles, including those relating to labour, competition, tax, insurance, information, the prohibition of discrimination, as well as specialized sectoral regulation. 

This book is organized around five themes: technologies of regulation; regulating technology; the sites of regulation (local to global); regulating markets; and regulating labour. Together, the chapters offer a rich variety of insights on the regulation of the sharing economy, both in terms of the traditional areas of law they bring to bear, and the theoretical perspectives that inform their analysis.


“Why are things like this?” Senator Murray Sinclair at the 2018 Edwards Lecture

November 20, 2018

“We are calling upon Canadians to ask themselves what kind of country they want to leave for their children and grandchildren.”

On Monday, November 19th, CrimSL hosted Senator Murray Sinclair, who delivered the 20th John Ll. J. Edwards Lecture. The enthusiasm was overwhelming. The Hart House Debates Room was filled to capacity, and the lecture was watched live via webcast by even more attendees in the Music Room. It is a testament to the stature and achievements of Senator Sinclair that so many people wished to attend.

The evening began with a drum song from Jenny Blackbird, a multidisciplinary artist, hand drummer, singer, fashion designer, and jingle dress dancer affiliated with the University of Toronto Centre for Indigenous Studies. After a welcome from CrimSL Director Audrey Macklin, Senator Sinclair was introduced by poet and author Lee Maracle, an Indigenous Elder and instructor at the Centre for Indigenous Studies and mentor to Indigenous students at U of T. Detailing Senator Sinclair’s many roles and accomplishments over the course of his career, she highlighted his role in creating an impetus to action among Canadians: “The Senator didn’t make recommendations, he made ninety-four calls to action. Pick one and do it.” 

In his lecture, titled “The Accidental Jurist: Thoughts on a life in the law,” Senator Sinclair spoke about his childhood and the effects that residential schools had on his family members and that public schools had on him. As an illustration, he shared the video “Perfect Crime” by Aaron Peters. Senator Sinclair noted that, of his childhood peers, he was the only one who graduated high school and went to university, which left him asking “why are things like this?” He went to law school to become a politician and change things. 

Senator Sinclair shared reflections on significant moments in his career: realizing, after a workshop with Elders following the repatriation of the Canadian constitution, that he needed to “set out on my journey to learn what it means to be Anishinaabe”; speaking with a man he had once sent to prison, who said that he worked to instill in his son that “It does not have to be like this for you.” 

Senator Sinclair ended with a discussion of the importance of respect. “In reconciliation, we need to find a way to build a relationship that is founded on respect,” he said. “We are not there yet. Reconciliation will take us a while because it took us a while to build this relationship built on disrespect. It will take us a while because it is a long time coming.”

“Reconciliation is not going to happen so long as one side believes that it is about rights and the other side believes that it is about benevolence. It has to be more. We have to be more than kind.” 

Named after the founder of the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, John Ll. J. Edwards, this is an annual public lecture on issues related to criminal law, crime, policing, punishment, and security sponsored by the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, the UofT Faculty of Law, and Woodsworth College. 

Photo caption: Senator Murray Sinclair receives a standing ovation at the end of the 2018 Edwards lecture


CrimSL at the 2018 ASC meeting

November 20, 2018

This November, CrimSL faculty, students and alumni traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for the 2018 American Society of Criminology meeting. They presented research, chaired sessions, and participated in roundtables. Here is a sampling of where they appeared: 

PhD student Alex Luscombe and PhD grad Akwasi Owusu-Bempah presented “Race, Cannabis and the Canadian War on Drugs: An Examination of Cannabis Arrest Data by Race in Six Major Cities” in the session “A New Era of Policing? New Technologies, New Methods, Old Victims.” 

PhD student Adam Ellis presented “My Life in ‘Urban War’: Exploring Trauma, PTSD and Gang Violence through the Lens of a Former-Street Soldier” in the session Marginalization, Strain, and Mental Health in Life-Course Criminology.” He also chaired the roundtable “Researcher, Expert, and/or Spectacle? Insider/Outsider Academics and the Advancement of Thug Criminology,” where CrimSL Professor Scot Wortley was a discussant. 

PhD student Dikla Yogev chaired the roundtable “Police Legitimacy and Crime Reporting” and also presented the paper “The complexity of police legitimacy.” 

PhD grad Katharina Maier presented “On the Outside: The Day of Release from Prison” in the session “Comparative Perspectives on Prisoner Reentry” and chaired the session “Employment & the Reentry Process.” 

In the session “Race and Policing,” Professor Wortley and PhD student Julius Haag presented “The Impact of Police-Citizen Encounters on Perceptions of Justice: Lived Experiences of Youth in Toronto, ON.”

Photo caption: Julius Haag presents at ASC 2018. Photograph by Derek Silva.


Community forum on gangs and gang violence

October 9, 2018

On Thursday, October 4th, CrimSL hosted a community forum on gangs and gang violence. “The Rose(s) that Grew From Concrete: Conversations with Former Gang Members about Violence, Trauma and Policy Options” brought together community members, academics, members of the Toronto Police Service Gun & Gang Taskforce, and former gang members.

In recent months gang violence in the city has drawn the attention of law enforcement, politicians, media, and the public. While there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the so-called gang problem, there has been inconsistent and often conflicting knowledge that has informed the issue. The goal of this community forum was to provide an intellectual bridge where former gang members, researchers, policy makers, law enforcement and state officials are able to discuss and explore the gang phenomena in more detail.

Former gang members gave firsthand accounts of the causes and consequences of gang violence and how they became involved. Panelists and audience members discussed poverty, youth programming and the need for long-term sustainable funding to address community needs, the negative impacts of the criminal justice system on racialized and marginalized youth, and recent proposals to address gun violence in Toronto.

Photograph from Julius Haag.


CrimSL at the 2018 LSA Conference

June 11, 2018

The 2018 meeting of the Law and Society Association, ‘Law at the crossroads,’ was held in Toronto from June 7th to 10th. The conference brought together scholars from around the world to a forum for discussion on myriad topics in the areas of legal research, sociolegal studies, criminology, and more. The Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies was well represented, with CrimSL faculty, PhD students, and alumni were among the conference organizers, volunteers, session chairs, discussants and presenters.

Professor Mariana Valverde was program chair for the conference and Centre Director Audrey Macklin was chair of the Local Arrangements Committee. Professor Valverde was also a discussant for two sessions and presented at the Law and Society Association/Canadian Law and Society Association Junior Scholars Workshops on June 6th.

The conference program featured research by many current PhD students at the Centre: “Making Enemies: Military Justice, Civilian Protesters and ‘Treason Against the Homeland’ in Venezuela,” by Giancarlo Fiorella; “The Power and Limits of Judicial Review: Analyzing the Interaction between the Court and the Police Complaints System in Producing ‘Accountability,’” by Jihyun Kwon; “Halfway House Residency, Reentry, and Desistance: The Narratives of Indigenous Ex-Prisoners,” Katharina Maier; “Implicating the state: the production and authorization of Indigenous people’s social histories in Canada, from Indian Agents to Gladue Reports,” by Jacquie Briggs; and “Power and order in a non-traditional prison. The case of Punta de Rieles prison in Uruguay,” by Fernando Avila. “The Queen’s Red Children: Commissions, Law & Empire in Canada,” by Mayana Slobodian was accepted for presentation at the conference, and her presence there was missed by friends and colleagues. The session Kinder, Gentler, More Benevolent: Interrogating the Myth of Canada’s Liberal Settler Colonialism was chaired by PhD student Jacquie Briggs, with CrimSL Professor Catherine Evans and PhD student Mayana Slobodian scheduled as discussants.

Centre faculty also presented research, including “Old Age and Law in the British Empire” by CrimSL Professor Catherine Evans. “Police unionism and ‘lawfare’ in postcolonial India” by CrimSL Professor Beatrice Jauregui; “Property as a Site of Colonial Contestation: The Legal Form and the Legality of Anti-Colonial Protest” by CrimSL Professor Honor Brabazon; and “Police, Politics, and Demobilization: Exploring Policy Feedback Effects in Britain” by Ayobami Laniyonu, who will join the Centre in 2019. Finally, CrimSL Professor Matthew Light was a reader in one of the Author Meets Reader sessions, Recent Socio-Legal Books on Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union.


Congratulations to 2018 LSA Graduate Student Paper Prize winner Ayobami Laniyonu

May 22, 2018

Ayobami Laniyonu, who will be joining the Centre in July 2019 as an assistant professor, has been awarded the 2018 Law and Society Association Graduate Student Paper Prize for “Coffee Shops and Street Stops: Policing Practices in Gentrifying Neighborhoods.” The Law and Society Association presents this award to the graduate student paper that best represents outstanding law and society research.

From the awards announcement: “This article explores the effect of gentrification and neighborhood change on policing patterns. Ayobami approaches the challenging topic of spatial implications of the postindustrial policing hypothesis. Analyzing recently released quantitative data from New York City, Ayobami tests the implications of the extant research, finding a strong and positive association between gentrification and Stop-and-Frisk police stops. His article emphasizes the importance of spatial dimensions in the analysis of urban policing. Ayobami’s work was nominated by Professor Mona Lynch.” Laniyonu wrote a blog post discussing the research published in this prize-winning paper for the Urban Affairs Forum.

Laniyonu is currently a PhD candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles and a research scientist at the Center for Policing Equity. His research explores the impact of the criminal justice system on political behavior and the impact of urban revitalization on policing practices.

This prize, and the other 2018 LSA awards, will be presented at the International Meeting in Toronto on Thursday, June 7 at 1:30 pm. Congratulations to Ayobami and to all of the award winners!


CrimSL PhD student collaborates on open-source investigation of political violence

May 14, 2018

Since early this year, CrimSL PhD student Giancarlo Fiorella has been collaborating with the Bellingcat Investigation Team and Forensic Architecture on an open source investigation into the events that lead to the death of Óscar Pérez in a raid on a safe house in El Junquito, Venezuela on January 15, 2018.

On May 13, 2018, the team published a report, in English and Spanish, researched and authored by Fiorella and Aliaume Leroy, of the Bellingcat Investigation Team, which describes the investigation so far. Fiorella and Leroy also published an op-ed in the New York Times appealing to members of the public to help with the investigation by getting in touch with videos, photos and details from El Junquito the morning of the raid.

The team is using open-source forensics—collecting, identifying, verifying, and plotting in space and time available media online to reconstruct a narrative—and have located about 60 pieces of evidence, including tweets, videos, and photos from citizens, security forces, and Pérez himself, and leaked audio of police radio communications, within a navigable three-dimensional digital platform that shows a model of the safe house and the environment of El Junquito around it.

Fiorella, whose research interests centre on political violence in Venezuela, protest policing, and social movements, wrote that “working on this report made me gain a new perspective on the incredible work that Venezuelan journalists are doing, in the most adverse conditions possible. We could not have concluded this report without their tireless efforts to uncover the truth and reveal it to others.”

A note for prospective students: the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies does not have a program in forensic studies. You can learn more about the University of Toronto Mississauga undergraduate forensic science program from their website or by contacting their office at 905-828-3726.


Context for the arrest in the Toronto van attack

April 25, 2018

In the wake of the van attack in Toronto on Monday, April 23rd, scholars from the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies have provided expert commentary and insight in various media regarding the arrest of the suspect without the use of lethal force. This list will be updated as media appearances continue.


Vice series on cannabis arrests and race

April 20, 2018
PhD student Alex Luscombe and PhD graduate Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, who teaches a course at the Centre as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at UTM, collaborated with journalist Rachel Browne on a Vice News Canada series about cannabis arrests and race. In the lead up to legalization later this year, they looked at arrest statistics for six Canadian cities: Regina, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Ottawa. They compared race-based data from police with census data from Statistics Canada. The first part of the series, written by Browne, gives a city-by-city breakdown of the racial disparities that the analysis demonstrated.

In the second part of the series, Luscombe and Owusu-Bempah co-authored an op-ed arguing that legalization alone won’t solve the problem of overrepresentation. They discuss the limitations posed by Canada’s lack of systemically collected, racially disaggregated criminal justice data “racial disparities in arrests for drug offences are the result of broader policing practices that are themselves heavily racialized.”

“Drug legalization will only amount to racial justice if the broader forces that promote injustice in Canada’s law enforcement apparatus are addressed. Effective oversight of police stop and search activities in general, and of drug law enforcement in particular, are crucial. This requires access to meaningful and reliable data that should be proactively released and not left up to our news agencies to acquire under inadequate freedom of information laws.”

In the third and final part of the series, Browne wrote about the calls for the federal government to proactively grant mass pardons for cannabis possession in the lead up to legalization.


Indigenous Youth Perspectives on the Justice System: Listening and learning

April 20, 2018

On Friday, April 20th, Kruger Hall Commons, Woodsworth College, held Indigenous Youth Perspectives on the Justice System: Listening and learning. This event was a collaboration between the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, the Ontario Justice Education Network, the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution, the Ontario Child Advocate, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives (VP & Provost Division), Woodsworth College, and the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources.

The event was an opportunity for students, scholars, practitioners, and community members in Toronto to support Indigenous youth in their ongoing work towards justice system education and reform. The speakers delivered an update on the implementation of recommendations identified at the Aboriginal Youth Designing a Better Justice System event in August 2017 and the Feathers of Hope: A First Nations Youth Action Plan forum and report released March 2016, and shared their efforts to develop technology solutions to build a justice system that is reflective of Aboriginal experiences and responsive to Aboriginal traditions.


Vanessa Iafolla at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance

April 18, 2018

On April 18th, CrimSL PhD graduate Vanessa Iafolla, now a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo, testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. As part of the Statutory Review of the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act, Dr. Iafolla shared her research on money laundering and terrorism.

The review of the act, which takes place every five years, is meant to ensure that anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing legislative framework keeps pace with technological, market, and environmental developments and commitments.

Iafolla discussed several issues regarding the identification and reporting of suspicious financial activity, including the need for guidance and feedback, the role of discretion and subjective judgements, and the impact of corporate secrecy. Iafolla’s testimony and her responses to questions from members of the committee can be read in the Evidence for the committee meeting and are also available as video (timestamp 16:39:42).


Special Advisors Appointed for Adult Corrections

April 6, 2018

Dr. Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Professor of Criminology and Sociolegal Studies and University of Toronto Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity, has been appointed as Ontario’s independent expert on human rights and corrections. In this role, she will provide impartial advice, including advice regarding the province’s plan to track inmates placed in restrictive confinement and segregation, and regarding the way public data is released.

Professor Hannah-Moffat’s advice will assist the government’s implementation of a joint agreement with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), reached in January 2018, which continues the implementation of ten public interest remedies that were mandated in the 2013 settlement with former inmate Christina Jahn. In this agreement, Ontario committed to appointing special advisors to analyze and comment on the continued improvement of services and the conditions of confinement for individuals in Ontario’s adult correctional institutions—particularly those with mental health issues. The Honourable Justice David Cole has been appointed as Ontario’s independent reviewer to monitor the government’s compliance with both the 2013 settlement and the terms of the new agreement.


2018 Graduate Student Conference: Rethinking Law, Criminal Justice Policy, and Regulation

March 9, 2018

The 2018 Graduate Student Conference was held on Friday, March 9, 2018. The annual conference provides graduate students with an opportunity to present their academic research in an interdisciplinary context and network with others doing work on related issues.

Graduate students from the University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University, Université Laval, Ryerson University, and Carleton University presented in sessions facilitated by conference organizers and Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies PhD Students Samantha Aeby, Andrea Sterling, and Jihyun Kwon.

Check out conference highlights on Twitter with the hashtag #crimGSC


Keynote address: Beyond privatization and neoliberalism: analysing hybrid networks of urban development

February 2018

Professor Mariana Valverde’s keynote address at the Birbeck Law review 2017 Conference, ‘Law and the City: Exploring the Urban Revolution in Critical Legal Studies,’ is available as a podcast on Soundcloud.