RobsonHallFaculty members of the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba have significant human rights expertise across the spectrum of human rights including discrimination based on gender, disability, age, Aboriginal status, race, economic condition, sexual orientation and status as an immigrant, refugee or prisoner. The full time tenure/tenure track and full time staff with some teaching obligations reflects the diversity of Canada’s population and is the result of the Faculty’s commitment to the practice of human rights principles. Currently we have 18 tenure/tenure track faculty members including nine women; two Aboriginal people; two members of racial minorities; one person with a significant disability and three LGBTQ folks. If our full-time, non-tenure track professional staff members with some teaching obligations are included in this count, we have a total of 24 faculty of whom 13 are women, three are Aboriginal, and two are racial minorities. Drs. Turnbull, Heckman and Gallant are fluently bilingual (English-French).

Our extra-curricular programming (including guest lectureships and faculty seminars) has always had a strong human rights and Aboriginal justice component. Many faculty members have been involved in conference planning on local, national and international levels. The inaugural Yude Henteleff Human Rights Lecture is being organized.

For more information, including registration details, contact the Faculty of Law.

Constitutional Law  (LAW 1460)

A general introduction to the constitutional law of Canada with a concentration on division of powers, Aboriginal constitutional law and the Charter.

Human Rights  (LAW 3018)

Issues of social justice occupy a prominent place in Canadian society and law is often perceived as the most common forum for addressing human rights issues. This course asks us to consider the ability of law to achieve social justice – and to consider law’s limitations. We will try to gain an understanding of the current situation concerning human rights in Canada and globally, but with an emphasis on the situation in Canada. We will investigate how rights discourse and strategies are employed by and applied to various communities in society as part of socio-political struggles. Through readings and discussion, we will attempt to understand, first, the ever increasing, but contested, role of international law (as well as other modes of regulation and other forms of normativity) in the promotion and protection of human rights the worldwide. We will explore the sources and content of human rights norms, including questions of cultural relativism, and the incorporation of international human rights norms into domestic legal settings.

COURSE CONTENT: While this course will investigate how human rights legislation and state policies (“formal law”) regulate our lives and can be used to achieve social justice, a good portion of our time will be spent considering how law is articulated “informally” through an approach known as “legal pluralism”. The particular site of investigation for this aspect of the course will be human rights law in the context of students and schools. While state-issued legislation affects the “day to day” lives of teachers and students, we will also approach schools as sites where power is organized “informally”. The course, therefore, will include such topics as “youth culture”, the hidden curriculum, legal pluralism and the social construction of race, gender and sexuality.

We will give consideration to the proposition that while the law of the state may be the most visible, public and high profile form of regulation and recourse, perhaps “law on the books” may not be the most important determinant of peoples’ experiences (particularly students) – and that the effects of legislation and policy need to be measured rather than assumed.

Accordingly, this course will explore how law can be an agent of social ordering and how it can be used to bring about social change, but we will also entertain questions about how “law on the books” plays out “on the ground” in practical ways.

Gender and the Law (LAW 3070)

An exploration of ideas about gender differentiation in law, the legal system, legal education and the legal profession. It will offer an introduction to the feminist critique of law and feminist theories about sexual equality and discrimination. This course will explore how law is an agent of social ordering and how it can be used to effect social change for women. After some introductory seminars on feminist and legal method and the history of women’s status in law we will focus on current legal issues where there are significant differences among feminist on how to tackle the issue. We will focus on issues connected to women’s bodies or women’s families although students will be able to choose the topics for 1 or 2 seminars and students have often chosen topics connected to women and money.

Children and the Law (LAW 3090)

Relationships between child, family, state and law are examined within an interdisciplinary context, focusing on such issues as rights theories and the public/private distinction; regulation of young offenders, child protection and state intervention; and child victims in the courts. 
COURSE CONTENT: Children in the last few decades have been given special recognition and increased protection under provincial, federal and international law. But doctrines and beliefs developed in periods when the social value of children was low, and the legal duty of parents and the state minimal, continue to influence the way the law views children. Values associated with parental autonomy and family privacy and beliefs about the capacity of children limit the role of the state in protecting children from parental incapacity and in providing appropriate social and legal structures to ensure their general welfare.

These issues are explored from an interdisciplinary perspective through an examination of the relationship of child, family and state; theories of children’s rights, including rights of the young offender; child abuse theory, construct and remedies; dilemmas in civil and criminal intervention; and alternate families.

Immigration and Refugee Law (LAW 3200)

An explanation of immigration and refugee law through a study of a representative selection of problems. 
Topics to be discussed may include the following: 
The refugee definition; the need for refugee protection; procedural protection for refugee claimants; a comparative study of refugee determination systems; the legality of a refugee sanctuary movement; the legal status of refugee claimants in Canada; refugee and immigrant detention; the relevance of Charter guarantees to refugees and immigrants; visa requirements and airline fines; the international system of refugee protection; racist intention and effect in immigration and refugee law; material misrepresentation as a ground of exclusion; medical inadmissibility; equivalance of Canadian and foreign criminal offences for purposes of exclusion; the relevance of foreign laws in determining family composition of sponsored immigrants.

Wilson Moot (LAW 3210)

Each year, four upper-year students are selected to represent Robson Hall at the Wilson Moot, held at the Federal Court in Toronto. Named in honour of Bertha Wilson, the first woman Justice of the Supreme Court, the annual Wilson Moot competition recreates an appeal of a Charter equality rights case and always raises fascinating and timely social issues. The Wilson Moot presents a unique and rewarding opportunity to hone one’s legal knowledge and advocacy skills and to network with students, lawyers, judges and law professors from across the country.

Immigration Law (LAW 3212)

The refugee definition; the need for refugee protection; procedural protection for refugee claimants; a comparative study of refugee determination systems; the legality of a refugee sanctuary movement; the legal status of refugee claimants in Canada; refugee and immigrant detention; the relevance of Charter guarantees to refugees and immigrants; visa requirements and airline fines; the international system of refugee protection; racist intention and effect in immigration and refugee law; material misrepresentation as a ground of exclusion; medical inadmissibility; equivalence of Canadian and foreign criminal offenses for purposes of exclusion; the relevance of foreign laws in determining family composition of sponsored immigrants. May not be held with LAW 3200.

Kawaskimhon Moot (LAW 3210T04)

The Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Moot is open to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. “Kawaskimhon” means “speaking with knowledge.” The moot may or may not involve traditional appellate mooting; however, it usually involves presentation of a 20 minute argument and consensus building. The moot may involve the use of a talking circle or other indigenous processes to resolve the legal issues that arise from the selected topic.

Laskin Moot  (LAW 3210T06)

The Laskin Moot is a national competition in Canadian administrative and constitutional law, founded in 1985-86 named in honour of former Chief Justice Bora Laskin. The moot is bilingual: each team’s presentation must include the use of both English and French.

The problem is set each year by a scholar of administrative and constitutional law and concerns a subject of timely interest in these fields, within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Canada.

Aboriginal Peoples and Land Claims (LAW 3230)

The course shall provide an overview of land claims and treaty land entitlement policies in Canada and their impact upon land claims by Aboriginal communities.

Aboriginal Peoples and the Law (LAW 3310)

A study of the laws relating to Native Peoples in North America from the colonial period to the present. Special emphasis will be given to aboriginal rights, hunting and fishing rights, the legal aspects of Indian Treaties and the Indian Act. A more general treatment will be given to a study of Native Peoples’ relationships to civil and criminal law in modern Canadian society.

Administrative Law (LAW 3530)

A general introduction to administrative law with concentration on judicial review of administrative tribunal decision making on procedural and substantive grounds.

Issues in Law and Bio Ethics (LAW 3380) 

The course deals with the legal aspects of prevention, creation, alteration, maintenance and termination of life through medical and other scientific means.

International Law (LAW 3740)

By tracing the principal structures and norms, this course offers a critical introductory perspective on international law. Students will be introduced to the concept of international legal personality, the sources of international law, the national application of international law, and issues of state jurisdiction over territory and persons.  The course will also consider substantive international legal issues which may include international criminal law, human rights, rights of Indigenous peoples, environmental law, and the use of force.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  (LAW 3940)

This advanced course in constitutional law is designed to be an in-depth follow-up to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms component of the first year introductory Constitutional Law course.

Course Content: Students will read and engage with a variety of perspectives on particular Charter rights, rights theory, the legitimacy of judicial review under the Charter, and the capacity of the Charter to address significant social issues such as, for example, terrorism, poverty, inequality and subordination, and democratic participation. The course will have a significant comparative component, with reference to South Africa, the United States, and other jurisdictions. Each student will, in consultation with the instructor, choose a paper topic that relates to the course materials while being of interest to the student.

Critical Conversations (LAW 3980)

Each year, the Centre for Human Rights Research based at Robson Hall organizes an interdisciplinary seminar series on a current human rights topic. Law students and graduate students in other disciplines (with permission from their departments) can register for this course.

Poverty Law  (LAW 3980T08)

This seminar will engage students in both a critical analysis of and practical experience with the social phenomenon of poverty and the varying roles that the law plays in the lives of poor people. Specific topics to be covered will include: income security, homelessness and housing, legal aid, panhandling, and anti-poverty advocates’ use of international and domestic law in lobbying and test case litigation. The protections afforded by human rights instruments and procedural safeguards/administrative law will also be explored as well as the intersection of poverty with race, gender, family status, age and disability. At the end of the seminar, students will have a basic understanding both of the substantive law and of the nature of legal practice involved in the topics discussed.

Miscarriages of Justice (LAW 3980T09)

Deprivation of liberty for a crime not committed by an individual is arguably one of the most egregious violations of human rights that can occur. Despite Canada’s adherence to a number of international instruments focussing on fundamental human rights, and despite the myriad legal protections built into our criminal justice system that are designed to protect the innocent from being convicted, miscarriages of justice have occurred with alarming frequency in Canada. Evidentiary, legal and human factors can fuel each other into a wrongful conviction in ways that were simply unknown prior to the advent of DNA. This course examines the causes of wrongful convictions, how to avoid them, detection mechanisms and remedies that should be provided under international instruments when a miscarriage of justice has occurred.
The course starts by examining the adversarial process and the role of the various players in the criminal justice system. It then moves into the environmental factors that nurture a miscarriage of justice, as well as the specific and immediate causes of wrongful convictions such as eyewitness misidentification, police mishandling of the investigation, inadequate disclosure, jailhouse informants, prosecutorial misconduct, unreliable scientific evidence, calling criminals as witnesses, false confessions and judicial errors. It concludes by considering the mechanisms that exist, or should exist, to uncover wrongful convictions, the role that Royal Commissions can play, the role of the media, and, finally, an assessment from the Bench of the causes of and cures for wrongful convictions.

Philanthropy and the Law (LAW 3980T13)

The scope of this seminar is potentially as broad as the idea of the voluntary sector itself. It will explore the question of the allocation of responsibility for addressing particular problems between the voluntary, non-profit, for-profit, public, and private sectors. It will look at techniques that both those organizations and governments have used to motivate donors and volunteers to give their time and money to address societal challenges. It will also consider the structure and governance of those organizations and foundations to which donors contribute and how governments hold those organizations accountable. Additionally, it will consider the history of the law of philanthropy and how the Canadian experience parallels and yet differs from that of other countries who share the same legal origins. Students will not only receive an overview of some of the issues affecting the organization, structure, and governance of philanthropic and non-profit organizations, but, moreover, some of the public policy issues confronting the future of this sector of society.

Aboriginal Law – Criminal Justice and Family Law (LAW 3980)

Advocating for the Rights of Indigenous People in International Law (LAW 3980)

Language Rights (LAW 3980)

Métis Peoples and Canadian Law (LAW 3980)