Administration of Criminal Justice: Mental Illness

For the student wishing to practice criminal law, it is inevitable that they will encounter individuals with mental health issues. Studies consistently show that 1 in 5 of all Canadians will be affected by a mental illness, either personally or through a close family member. The percentage of individuals with mental health issues increases when one looks at those charged with criminal offences and those in the correctional system. Accused persons with mental health issues raise difficult and complex issues for the criminal law practitioner, whether you are a prosecutor, duty counsel, defence attorney or a judge.

This seminar will develop students’ knowledge of forensic mental health issues throughout the criminal justice system.  That objective will be achieved by enhancing students’ understanding of the nature and extent of mental illness in our society and the various legal issues that arise when a mentally disordered individual comes into contact with the criminal justice system. Students will become familiar with Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code and related sections through lectures, guest speakers and class discussion. Students will also see how these statutory provisions arise in practice through field trips (conditions permitting) to the specialized Mental Health Court at Old City Hall, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and/or the Ontario Review Board. The seminar will also afford students an opportunity to reflect critically on the various social, legal and ethical issues that arise as an individual with mental health issues goes through the criminal justice system, including the use of measures to divert persons away from or out of the criminal justice system.

Health Law

This seminar explores the dynamic and challenging field of health law, with a focus on practical issues.  The course provides a survey of the legal framework and policy considerations underlying the cornerstone areas of health law, including: consent to treatment; mental capacity and substitute decision-making; professional regulation and governance; medical malpractice; emergency management and civil protection; and health information privacy. Practical and topical issues will be explored in the areas of: elder law (issues in long-term care facilities, retirement homes); the law of medical assistance in dying in Canada; human rights in health care; hospitals and health care facilities (including physician privileges, employment issues and tensions between administrators, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders); pandemic and emergency management; reproductive health and surrogacy; and research ethics.  

Typical seminars will cover substantive law including case law and statutes, as well as policy issues and professional responsibility concerns. Students are expected to actively participate via class discussion and a class presentation. Guest speakers will provide unique perspectives on particular topics.  Students will be asked to attend (in person or through electronic means) a hearing in the health law field and to reflect on that proceeding in a midterm written paper.  Through readings, class discussion and assignments, students will gain a foundation for a dedicated health law practice and an analytical framework for addressing health law issues as they arise in other practice areas.

Law & Social Change: Disability, Technology and Law

What is the role of technology in advancing the rights and welfare of about a billion individuals with disabilities in the world today?  Is technological advancement a catalyst for a more inclusive society?  How so?  Does technology enhance access for people with disabilities, and access to what exactly?  Does it ultimately and unconditionally lead to fostering respect for their human dignity?  Is dignity relevant here and should we be bound by a timeless and universal understanding of that in assessing the present and future impact of technology on the well-being of people with disabilities?  Most importantly, does and should technology change our understanding of (dis)ability?  Does technological advancement change the relationship between law and disability?  How?
This course is a collective exercise in tackling these and related questions in an introductory fashion.  The literature on disability rights and technology is a tripod: ethics of approaching disability (such as questions  arising from medical and genetic technology, artificial intelligence etc.); human and civile rights of people with disabilities and their full inclusion in the society (such as questions of standards of access and meaningful participation as citizens); and disability and development (such as questions around the role of technology in reducing socio-economic and power disparities or creating new unanticipated forms of that among individuals with disabilities in the world or between the disabled and able-bodied population).  We will become familiar with this tripod in order to open a new window to the evolving relation between disability, technology, and law.  
Central to this new path is a fundamental focus on the future of our understanding of disability in light of inevitable and fast-growing technological changes.  Could it be the case that law’s anxious choice between a medical and social approach to disability will have to come to terms with new and further sources of confusion when the enabling or further disabling impact of technology will ruffle current definitions of (dis)ability?  If those definitions are destabilized, so shall the punitive, identity-protecting labels such as ‘ablism’ that further divides the disabled from the able.


This course deals with the law of patents in Canada. Patent law is one of the main headings of intellectual property law (along with copyrights and trademarks); trade secrets arise from a combination of contracts, equity and property law. The regime of patents protects inventions by granting inventors a limited monopoly of twenty years in exchange for disclosing the invention to society. The essential justification of the patent system is that it enables and rewards innovation. Arguments may also be made that patents afford a secure means by which inventions may be put to commercial use by investors. The course will examine the statutory basis of patent law in Canada, the judicial construction and interpretation of both primary and subsidiary regulations of Canadian patent law. The course will also locate developments in Canadian patent law in the context of international and regional transformations in the field. In this context, the course will explore contemporary controversies over the expansion of patent rights in biotechnology (from patenting mousetraps to patenting mice), and the shift from copyright protection to patent protection for computer programs. It is expected that at the end course, students would have a solid understanding of Canadian patent law as well as how international developments shape and influence Canadian patent law.

Disability & the Law

This course examines disability as a legal category with implications for the rights of persons with disabilities. Students will be introduced to alternative conceptions and theories of disability and impairment, and will examine how law constructs and regulates the lives of persons with disabilities. Throughout the course we will examine statutory provisions and jurisprudence in different areas including: family, reproduction, death and dying, health, mental health, human rights, social and economic welfare to understand how disability is defined and regulated by law. This course analyzes and evaluates how law can best achieve the goals of social justice and equality for persons with disabilities. This course offers in-class instruction in an interactive lecture/discussion/presentation format. Students are expected to read the assigned materials before class and to participate in analytical class discussions. From time to time, guests will be invited to speak about their area of expertise and/or their experience of law and disability.

Environmental Law

This course introduces the law of environmental protection in Canada.  In considering a wide range of environmental issues, we will bring major issues and contemporary developments to life using news stories, videos, case studies, and possible guest lectures.  We will begin with an overview of the controversies and problems that environmental disputes, laws and policies attempt to resolve.  We then will explore topics such as common law environmental litigation (e.g. toxic torts, class actions, SLAPP suits); jurisdiction to legislate (e.g. federal/provincial division of powers, local government powers, Aboriginal self-government); command regulation, regulatory innovations, and market-based alternatives (e.g. emissions trading); public participation and environmental rights (e.g. Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights, community right to know laws); environmental compliance and enforcement (e.g. environmental sentencing, citizen enforcement); judicial review of environmental decision-making (e.g. standard of review, public interest standing); major federal and Ontario environmental statutes (e.g. air, water, waste, contaminated lands; parks/protected areas; species at risk); comparisons with U.S. environmental law and policy; international law and the environment (e.g. multilateral environmental agreements, international trade and investment law; and cross-cutting issues (e.g. climate change, food policy).  During the term, students will present on an assignment relevant to the current topic(s).
The course is integrated with the Faculty of Environment & Urban Change graduate course ENVS 6164 and typically includes students from the MES and MBA programs, whose presence greatly enriches the learning experience.