Access to Justice
The Clinic is guided by an overall vision for a just Canadian society that values and respects all people and the environment in which we live. This vision directs the Clinic to work with community organizations and individuals who are advocating for systemic change in public law and policy matters generally, as well as strengthen access to the justice system. Some Clinic projects do not fit within one of our more specific subject areas, but they are undertaken because of a significant contribution towards access to justice for the disadvantaged or vulnerable members in our community.
In 2016, JD students registered in the Clinic organized and hosted a stakeholder roundtable discussion with representatives from community organizations to discuss concerns with the RTDRS. This discussion resulted in the Clinic forwarding a submission to the Director of the RTDRS with suggested amendments to address noted concerns from the community. In 2017, the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service Regulation was amended to make some enhancements to procedural fairness in the dispute resolution service, however not all concerns were addressed.
Articling students employed by the Clinic and JD students registered in the Clinic’s teaching program worked under the supervision of volunteer lawyers to provide pro bono assistance and advice to individual debtors. The project also included legislative reform initiatives. Students spearheaded an outreach campaign to responsible Ministers and other officials in relevant government departments to raise awareness on systemic problems in consumer debt.
The Clinic is investigating the need for anti-SLAPP legislation in Alberta. This project has several phases: (1) literature review on SLAPPs, including consideration of Byron Sheldrick, Blocking Public Participation: The Use of Strategic Litigation to Silence (WLU Press, 2014); (2) research on the use of SLAPPs in other jurisdictions including the European Union; (3) doctrinal research on judicial decisions interpreting anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario and British Columbia, including the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in 1704604 Ontario Ltd. v Pointes Protection Association, 2020 SCC 22; (4) consultation.