At the forefront of national advocacy: Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The Pro Bono Cause

The CCLA has served as Canada’s national civil liberties association for more than 50 years. It continues to be at the forefront of national advocacy in the protection of Canadian citizens’ rights and democratic freedoms. It is an independent, non-governmental and non-profit enterprise. And their work is more important than ever.

Osler is proud to be a contributor of pro bono legal services on behalf of the CCLA and has represented the organization in its important cases over many years. Two of our more recent and important cases are noteworthy for the fundamental access to justice each represents.

Partner David Morritt and associate Eric Morgan were counsel for the CCLA when it intervened in the landmark decision of P.S. v Ontario (2014 ONCA 900). The CCLA argued before a five-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal that there needed to be adequate safeguards for people in involuntary, indefinite detention under the Mental Health Act (MHA) to protect their Charter rights.

In its decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down parts of the MHA, limiting such detentions to six months. The decision led the Ontario Legislature to pass Bill 122 which amended the MHA and the Health Care Consent Act. The amendments affect practices and procedures at the Consent and Capacity Board and in psychiatric facilities across Ontario for the management of long-term involuntary patients.

In another case (Good v Toronto (Police Services Board), 2016 ONCA 250), David, Eric and associate Alexis Beale served as counsel for the CCLA before the Ontario Court of Appeal. The CCLA intervened in a class action certification decision regarding more than 1,000 individuals (protestors, bystanders, legal monitors) who were arrested during the G20 Summit in Toronto in 2010. In its decision the Court of Appeal emphasized two key themes brought forward in the CCLA’s intervention: access to justice and police accountability.

The Osler Pro Bono Connection

David Morritt, Eric Morgan, Alexis Beale and several articling students worked pro bono on these matters. They gave Osler an opportunity to make submissions on behalf of the CCLA about key Charter issues and access to justice issues. These issues are important to how individuals interact with the justice system and how the justice system can better serve the community.

Volunteer Reflections

“These matters raised important and interesting legal issues about how the justice system treats individuals in very challenging situations – whether they are in detention or making allegations against police action. The impact of these proceedings was significant. In particular, the P.S. decision quite literally changed the law on detention under the Mental Health Act in Ontario. We were very honoured to be retained the CCLA in these matters and to be given the chance to contribute to these decisions.” Eric Morgan

Eric Morgan

Eric Morgan: Litigation Associate